Ohio State Navbar

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma caregiver honored at Stefanie Champions Awards Luncheon


CHAMPION: Cindy Kip, 52, Gahanna, Ohio (mother)

Nominator: Alex Kip, 24, New York, NY (son, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor)

During Christmas 2010, Alex Kip was embarking on a challenging journey of a stem cell transplant. While his friends were worrying about trivial things, he was wondering whether he would beat his 30-percent odds at life. As Alex was weeks away from graduating college, he was diagnosed and needed to be transferred to the OSUCCC – James. Cindy Kip made sure the insurance transferred smoothly. “My mother cared about one thing and one thing only: me,” wrote Alex Kip.

Cindy not only worried about the financials, but she also asked questions, finding out all of the information and making sure everything went well. She also suggested altering eating habits for a healthier lifestyle, including cutting out gluten and soda. “Changing the eating habits of a college student is not an easy task. Through leading by example, she pressured me to restructure my health habits, a crucial part in my battle and now daily life,” Alex wrote.


The 13th annual Stefanie Champions Awards Luncheon, held April 11 at the Ohio Union, celebrated five extraordinary heroes in the lives of cancer patients and a pair of important milestones.

One was surpassing $10 million in combined revenue generated over the years for the two Spielman Funds: the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at the OSUCCC – James and the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Patient Assistance (see related story, below).

The other was the 2011 opening and subsequent naming of the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center, an event that OSUCCC Director and James CEO Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, said reflects “continued growth in our breast cancer program.”

“Naming the Center for Stefanie last October is a wonderful tribute to the life and legacy of one of Ohio State’s greatest alums,” said Caligiuri, who noted that the facility is the first of its kind in the Midwest to offer in one location the full continuum of breast cancer care, from prevention and screening through detection, diagnosis and treatment.

Alluding to all that Stefanie did to heighten awareness of breast cancer and to raise money for research and patient assistance before losing her battle to this disease at age 42 in November 2009, Caligiuri said he “can’t think of a better name for a facility where we detect and treat – and will one day find a cure for – breast cancer.”

Stefanie and her husband Chris, a former Ohio State and professional football standout, established the Champions Award in 2000, less than two years after her diagnosis at age 30. The award recognizes an important factor in cancer treatment: the healing presence of a devoted caregiver. Stefanie named Chris as her first Champion when he put his professional football career on hold to care for her after her initial diagnosis.

Chris Spielman, who now hosts Stefanie’s Champions and continues to support the cause against breast cancer, agreed that the new Center will play a key role in curing this disease.

“My goal is for that beautiful new building to someday be turned into a party house or a rec center or a retirement home for Dr. Gee,” he said, referring to Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee, who served as honorary chair of this year’s Stefanie’s Champions luncheon. 

“With each passing year, month and day, breakthroughs are being made in the fight against cancer,” Spielman said. “Today we announced passing the $10 million mark for the Spielman Funds, and 100 percent of that money goes to research and patient assistance.

“When we started out, I told Stefanie that if we’re going to ask people for money, we’re going to hold that money to account,” he added, explaining that if no progress is being made on a particular study, funding would be discontinued and applied to a more promising project. “I kind of look at everything as competition, and you must produce.”

Speaking as honorary chair, Gee jokingly said he accepts Chris’ suggestion that the new breast center one day be converted “to a rec center or retirement home for me. I believe we can cure cancer at Ohio State, and I intend to still be president here when we accomplish that.”

Gee called Stefanie “a champion of life, and that’s really what we’re celebrating here today. Her vision was to cure cancer, and that vision is being realized at The James.”

Noting that his wife Elizabeth died at The James in 1991, Gee said he will be “forever grateful for the great care she received while there. So I’m deeply honored to serve Chris as honorary chair for this luncheon. By all of us working together, I have no doubt that we will one day cure cancer.”