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Donna Bush, Lymphoma Cancer Survivor

For Love and Money

Donna BushThis is a story about disease, fear, love and money; four things that link Donna Bush and Dr. Matthew Beldner in a quest to live and learn about each in a very special way.

Let’s begin with Donna. Five years ago she was blindsided by a diagnosis of Lymphoma. She’d just moved to Charleston. She didn’t know anyone. Her husband was still working in Texas.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” she said when first told she might have lymphoma. “I thought I had a bladder infection, I’d take a pill and go home.”

Instead, she was quickly maneuvered through the Roper St. Francis system to the doorstep of Dr. Matthew Beldner, a partner in Lowcountry Hematology and Oncology.

“When I met Dr. Beldner, I told him I was freaked out,” she said. “But he was the most calming and compassionate person. He told me what was going to happen, that I would need a bone marrow biopsy. And that everything would be okay.

“As far as I’m concerned, it was God and divine intervention working for me. Dr. Beldner cares for you like part of his family. He empowers you.”

So we’re happy to report that Donna is doing fine. She’s had a clean bill of health for three years, and counting, which makes her grateful. She can’t say enough good things about Dr. Beldner.

All of which covers two of the aforementioned topics, disease and fear. But what about money?

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society chose Dr. Beldner as one of six people in the Lowcountry to raise money and compete for the society’s Man & Woman of the Year honors at this year’s gala on June 6.

And while Beldner is more than happy to help in any way he can, this was one way he hadn’t really considered.

“It’s tricky asking people for money,” said Dr. Beldner, who wants to raise $30,000 before the big event. “I’m not really a fundraiser. And you can’t just ask your patients for money for something like this.”

So before accepting, he and his wife talked about it and decided this was something important that he should participate in. But how do you do it?

“Well, we pulled out our Christmas card list and I wrote everybody a letter,” he said.

In that letter, Dr. Beldner said this was a cause near and dear to his heart. He wrote that the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s mission is clear: to cure the disease and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.

To that end, he wrote, much of the money goes to research. But it also goes to help patients pay for the care, even providing gas cards so they can get to their appointments.

And, he’s been successful. As the deadline approaches, Dr. Beldner has raised more than half his goal. If you want to help, you can make a donation on his website. But the real payoff is yet to come.

“One day toward the end of my treatment, I told Dr. Beldner I loved him,” said Donna Bush.

See, I told you this was a love story.

By: Ken Burger, former Post and Courier sports columnist and local author. Reach Ken at

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