Isaacs carries on wife’s legacy by donating

Donor Spotlight: Steve Isaacs; picture of Steve with sunglasses in a red shirt.

Steve Isaacs lost his wife when she was 40, and they had no viable options outside of the hospital for her final days. But now, with the staff and volunteers at Caring Hearts and Hands, Isaacs does his part to give back to help others in the same situation, carrying on her legacy.

Can you tell us a bit about your life? Work? Family? 

I am from South Dakota, originally.  At least that is where I lived the longest (my father was in the Air Force). I graduated from SEMO and then from Mizzou Law School. I practiced law for about seven-and-a-half years before leaving to work with my best friend’s advertising company, where I’ve been working for the past 17 or so years.  I have a 15-year-old son named Vince.

How did you learn about Caring Hearts and Hands? 

I was previously married, and my wife Stephanie sadly passed away from breast cancer at the age of 40. We would have loved to have a place for her to spend her final days rather than a hospital, but there were no viable options.  

After her passing, I met and began dating Theresa Rardin, who coincidentally was involved with CHHC. That is what introduced me to the organization. I wanted to be able to honor Stephanie, but also help others who are in her unfortunate situation. I feel like I am carrying on her legacy when I am able to help at CHHC.

What draws you to the organization’s mission? 

Mainly the fact that I have been in the exact same situation as the families they serve today. I know how unbelievably difficult it is. To have an organization that helps take care of one of the most anxiety-producing parts of that journey—the end-of-life stage—is very important.

What is the most rewarding part about CHHC?

Knowing that they are taking some of the burden off of the families, while also often times fulfilling the patient’s desire not to die in a hospital.  

Oncologist, fiction-writer and friend

Donor Spotlight: Tungesvik

Dr. Mark Tungesvik, an oncologist with Missouri Cancer Associates, is no stranger to end-of-life care.

According to Tungesvik, oncology is one of the biggest referrers to palliative care where founders, Dorreen Rardin and Jackie Reed worked. He sees the need for Caring Hearts and Hands in our community.

“We will be treating people who are older and living alone. It’s not optimal, and as they get sicker, you’re in a pickle. For some, there’s not a lot of social support, and hospice can’t assist if the patient is alone. There are nursing homes, but that isn’t optimal. It could be a warm, loving place, but many patients don’t see it that way. I do think this is an unmet need.”

“There isn’t much small talk in the office,” Tungesvik says. “Once cancer patients have a diagnosis, their life changes. If it’s terminal, their perspective on life changes. And we form a real relationship. Working with the patients is the best part. That’s what I like, and that’s why I do it.”

But Tungesvik doesn’t stop at medical cancer treatments. He’s also nearing the end of a seven-year project, writing a trilogy of therapeutic fiction. This three-book series is meant to help those struggling more than just physically.

“Some people will have developed a dark worldview, and it’s hard to work out of that. So, I put together this series. It’s not just about providing for a person’s physical needs. They have to turn the corner emotionally and intellectually so they can have some hope. These books are about doing that.”

“I’ve been writing the Song of the Bear trilogy for nearly seven years, but I’m coming to the end of it. I’m going over what may be the final draft. I’ll be sending to a self-publisher soon.”

Song of the Bear Book Cover
A Ship called Eros Book Cover