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Foundation Story

Giving Back

Published on Tuesday November 1, 2022

Fifteen months after Rowena and Phil Mason retired, Rowena knew something was wrong with her husband. Providers at Centra Medical Group-Brookneal confirmed that Phil had suffered a heart attack and sent the Masons straight to the emergency department at Centra Lynchburg General Hospital. It calmed Rowena knowing they were fortunate enough to live close to the top hospital system in the region. 

Rowena credits his cardiologist and the cardiology team with saving Phil’s life and knows they were fortunate to be around such great doctors.

Shortly after his heart attack, Phil was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. From diagnosis to treatment, he grew close to Cecilia MacCallum, MD, in the oncology department of the Centra Alan B. Pearson Regional Cancer Center. Rowena remembers that Dr. MacCallum and Phil were instant friends and thinks of Dr. MacCallum as family, not just another doctor. “We could ask her any question, and she knew we wanted to know the whole story. Dr. MacCallum genuinely cared about Phil. That’s when you know you have the right doctor.”

Through all of his health issues, Rowena is proud that Phil did not let his diagnosis overshadow his life. She said Phil was a hard worker with a lifelong love of learning, having earned a doctorate and serving for 20 years in the Navy Reserves.

Although she lost her husband in 2016, Rowena gained a family at Centra. Reflecting on her final years with Phil, she said she does not know if they could have gotten through everything if not for the staff at Centra. “When the doctors and nurses work together, you know you’re in a good place.”

Grateful for the care her husband received while a patient, Rowena chose to give back to Centra in memory of Phil by donating to both cardiology and cancer care, helping to ensure that other patients, families, and communities served by Centra have access to state-of-the-art services, clinical expertise, facilities, and technology.

Rowena said, “I will never be able to pay back what the doctors, nurses, and Centra hospitals did for us. They always made things easy for Phil when he was receiving treatment. Every step of the way Phil said nothing but good things about Centra. Thank you. You gave me and my husband 16 ½ more years together.”

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