Catherine Sellers, MSN, RN, AGPCNP-BC,OCN, Duke Cancer Center Raleigh, was recently named the The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) 2018 Woman of the Year. Having raised $167,098 over a 10-week period (March 27 through June 9), Seller's cinched the local chapter's Woman of the Year title.
"Participating in this philanthropic endeavor has been the journey of a lifetime," shared Sellers, 42, an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner. "This was an opportunity that I never knew I would have. I feel so blessed and honored to have participated and contributed to the mission of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It has been such a meaningful way for me to complement my professional work and really make an impact on the blood cancer community. What a privilege it was to honor the memories of both my mother and mother-in-law in such a unique way."
Earlier this year Sellers accepted the nomination to compete as a means of memorializing her mother, Terry Steele, and mother-in-law, Laura Anne Carpenter. Both women passed away after "brave battles" with blood cancer. Steele had lymphoma and then was diagnosed with leukemia. She was just 59 years old when she succumbed to the effects of her cancer. Carpenter was 63 when she lost her battle with leukemia.
The LLS’s Man & Woman of the Year (MWOY) campaign is a fundraising competition in which nominees compete for the title of Man or Woman of the Year. Participants raise funds for LLS blood cancer research in honor of local children who are blood cancer survivors. The titles are awarded to the man and woman in each community who raises the most funds during the ten-week campaign; the top local fundraisers in the country also win the national titles. To raise funds, participants reach out to their personal and professional networks and also often host fundraisers—uniting their hobbies and passion with their commitment to support LLS and the fight against blood cancers.
In 2016 Duke's Stefanie Sarantopoulos, MD, PhD, won Woman of the Year, having raised $78,000 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and in 2015 Arati V. Rao, MD, earned the title when she raised $150,000 for the society.
Sellers and her supporters, team CancErasers, raised funds utilizing various strategies. Sellers was able to secure a number of significant corporate donations. Sponsors included Kerry & Simone Vickar Family Foundation; Cozart & Edwards, PA; White Oak Land Development; May Heavy Equipment; Legacy Earthworks and Duke Cancer Institute. She and her team also hosted Cinco de Mayo parties and bake sales at Wake County cancer locations. Seller's 14-member team posted on social media invitations to donate and also organized an email campaign, reaching out to family, friends and colleagues for support.
"I couldn’t have accomplished this without the support of my amazing team," she said. "Not meaning to be sappy, but they truly have been the wind beneath my wings."