/////Family of Breast Cancer Victim Sets Up Fund at UAMS
Family of Breast Cancer Victim Sets Up Fund at UAMS 2018-01-05T09:11:33+00:00

JAN. 9, 2004 | Ashley Keener knows what it means to keep a promise. Last year, the 15-year-old made a promise to her mother, who was struggling with breast cancer, that she would run in the Race for the Cure. Unfortunately, her mother didn’t live long enough to see that pledge carried out. Her mother died at age 49 on Oct. 4, 2003, the morning of the race. But that didn’t stop Ashley – she kept her promise and ran in the race anyway.


 On Jan. 5, 2004, Ashley visited the Arkansas Cancer Research Center (ACRC) at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to make another promise – to help others like her mom fight the battle of breast cancer.


In memory of her mother, Edna ‘Kaye’ Bruce Keener, Ashley and the Keener family presented a $10,500 check to the UAMS Foundation at a special reception held at UAMS. The gift establishes the “Edna Kaye Keener Memorial Fund,” which will be used to support breast cancer research at the ACRC. The family collected the money from friends and various churches and plans to raise $10,000 each year to add to the fund.


Rev. Malcolm Keener, Ashley’s father, expressed his gratitude to the UAMS physicians who cared for his wife during her illness. He personally thanked Ronda Henry-Tillman, M.D., assistant professor in the department of surgery in the College of Medicine and director of cancer control at the ACRC; Kent Westbrook, M.D., professor of the department of surgery in the College of Medicine and co-founder of the ACRC; and Laura Hutchins, M.D., professor of medicine in the College of Medicine and director of the division of hematology and oncology.


“This loss set into motion a mission and challenge that we believe Kaye would have wanted us to meet,” Rev. Keener said. “This challenge has three parts: First, we are setting up this fund in Kaye’s name that will raise money for the cure and research of breast cancer. Second, we are going to start a support group for children in public and private schools who have lost loved ones because of this disease; and third, we want to aid women of color who are struggling with breast cancer.”


Sandra Nichols, M.D., a graduate of the College of Medicine at UAMS and former director of the Arkansas Department of Health who is Kaye’s sister, described Kaye as a fighter: “She fought a very courageous battle. But she would always remind us that the battle was not hers; it was the Lord’s,” Nichols said. “She was on a mission to save other women’s lives. You could often find her encouraging others to get tested for breast cancer.”


Kaye also touched the lives of the physicians who cared for her. According to Westbrook, it was Kaye’s optimism that kept her alive for so long. “I’ve treated thousands of cancer patients and I don’t remember all the names and faces, but I will always remember Kaye. She fought as hard as any patient I have ever seen.”


E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., vice chancellor and dean of the College of Medicine, thanked the Keeners for the gift and applauded Ashley for her remarkable courage. “The resolve she had – to run the race just hours after her mother’s death – is beyond her 15 years,” he said.


Donations can be made to the fund by calling (501) 686-8200, or by writing to the Edna Kaye Keener Memorial Fund, 4301 W. Markham, # 716, Little Rock, AR  72205.

Links on This Page

Arkansas Cancer Research Center: www.acrc.uams.edu/
UAMS College of Medicine: www.uams.edu/com
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