By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer
In the serene setting of the library room at Reba’s Ranch House, Susan Hooper settled in with Phil Roether and his sister. They were there to discuss a topic Susan knew well — Phil’s sister was preparing to face her battle with breast cancer.
“I told my sister, ‘Why don’t you come talk to Susan?’” Phil recalled. He is an original board member of the Texoma Health Foundation. “‘Susan has been down this road.’”
A fixture at Reba’s Ranch House, Susan had battled breast cancer and was always ready to come alongside anyone making their own journey. But she did more than equip people—she was ready to enter the battle with them.
“You knew you had a warrior on your side,” said Dr. Darius Maggi. He is also an original board member of the Texoma Health Foundation, which manages Reba’s Ranch House. “Her attitude was, ‘I’m with you. I’ll hold your hand. We’ll go into battle together,’” he continued. “The Good Lord put her on the earth for that reason. We need people that love people and take care of people like Jesus did. If anyone exemplifies that, Susan does.”
Susan first entered Texoma Health Foundation (THF) almost 15 years ago when she was battling cancer for the first time. Like so many she has helped since, Susan had been sent home with stage IV cancer. A business owner facing the high cost of health insurance, Susan had no options for treatment or surgery available to her. She called her dear friend and THF Foundation Board Member, Judge Horace Groff who connected her to the foundation’s Cancer Fund. The fund was able to provide dollars to open the door to life saving treatment.
So thankful for what the foundation had done, she joined all volunteer activities for the patient assistance fund and Texoma Health Foundation.
“She walked into my office one day and said, ‘I want to give back,’” said Michelle Lemming, THF CEO. “Fifteen years later, she has been a tireless advocate to the community, a fundraiser, and a loving friend to countless residents facing a cancer diagnosis.”
She eventually joined the Reba’s Ranch House staff in Guest Relations before the Room for Hope was founded in March 20, 2012. There, Susan had the opportunity to fulfill her passion for supporting and assisting those who were beginning their battle with cancer. Today the room assists men and women in their fight, both financially and with needed personal items for the battle.
“Most people came in with a relative or friend,” Susan said. “They usually felt bad and thought they looked bad. After trying on wigs and playing for a time, everyone was in a better mood. We prayed and talked and ended up being one big family.”
It wasn’t only Susan’s dedicated work that made the Room for Hope thrive; it was the heart, positive attitude, and hugs she had for anyone who crossed her path.
Betty, Phil’s wife and a volunteer for the ranch house, said, “Susan’s attitude is an example of how important being positive is to your health.”
Susan’s declining health ushered her into retirement, but not the end of her legacy at Reba’s Ranch House. A new fund is being created in her honor: The Susan Hooper Cancer Care Fund.
One goal of the fund is to assist people who face the same struggles Susan did, helping those who have no insurance or are underinsured receive the treatment they need.
“The fund in my honor means the world because a fund will continue helping people long after I can, personally,” Susan said. “What a great feeling for anyone!”
Through the fund, Susan will continue as a warrior alongside patients and guests at Reba’s Ranch House.
“When you come into the ranch house, you are uncertain of your life at the moment,” Susan said. “To help someone clear their mind is a tremendous gift. Just talking and praying accomplished this with people.”
Phil added, “My sister still remembers how calming it was to talk to Susan, to understand someone else who had been through the battle, what to expect; and that it can be okay.”
If you would like to contribute to Susan’s fund and be a warrior for men and women fighting cancer, please donate here.
(Click on the dropdown arrow next to the “Area of Interest” title and select “Susan Hooper Cancer Care Fund”)