In 2011, Dr. Nathan Bennington returned to his native Portsmouth after completing his residency in Dayton and spending some time at Yale University. A neuroradiologist, Bennington was working his first shift at Southern Ohio Medical Center when one of his best friends showed up complaining of somewhat vague symptoms of fatigue. As a reader, you might be able to guess where this story is going.
Bennington did a chest x-ray and quickly decided more tests were called for, including a CT scan. The ultimate diagnosis for his friend, Matt, who was then 32, was Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Bennington notes he could not even think about backing out on telling his friend the bad news. He says the visit was what is known as a “hold and call,” meaning the tests are taken and the patient waits around for the results.
“I had to tell him about this, and his son is running around the room playing,” Bennington adds. He says the son would have been about 4 years old at the time. In any case, Bennington explains that even from early on in his career, he had decided he had to be honest with his patients, to tell them what he saw and what it might mean.
“You can’t really beat around the bush,” Bennington continues. “I’m pretty straight forward.”
Bennington ordered a biopsy for his friend and shortly was about to get more practice in sharing bad news. About two months later, the stepfather of a different friend, someone Bennington looked upon as a second father, came to SOMC. Chuck had visited a hospital in a different city, but apparently was not satisfied with the results. It’s probably a good thing he wasn’t. The ultimate diagnosis in this instance was an aggressive form of B-cell lymphoma.
There is some good news in all this. In fact, one could argue there is lots of good news in this story. Naturally, both Matt and Chuck received treatment.
“Thanks to cutting-edge treatments funded by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), both Matt and Chuck recovered and have been in remission for over five years now,” Bennington wrote on his website, telling The Daily Times if there is no sign of the return of cancer over a span of five years, the patient is considered cured.
At least partly due to his experiences early in his career, Bennington quickly decided he needed to devote some time raising money for LLS. His first effort was what has become an annual soccer tournament, with all proceeds going to the tri-state chapter of LLS, meaning all money raised stays in Southern Ohio. Bennington has held his soccer tournament – Hat-Tricks for Hodgkin’s — each summer since 2011, with another coming up in August, though all the details are not yet worked out. Because of his efforts, the LLS, headquartered in Cincinnati, asked him to take part in the 2018 Man and Woman of the Year fundraising campaign. As of early this week, Bennington has amassed donations topping $11,000. He flatly refuses to take any of the credit for that fundraising himself.
According to Bennington, he is the first person outside of Cincinnati to be asked to take part in the event. He says the average nominee raises about $10,000. He repeatedly says it is a credit to the “incredible generosity” of the people of Portsmouth that his efforts have equaled or even surpassed that of his big-city counterparts.
“People have just been very generous,” Bennington says, further noting that, of course, Cincinnati’s population far exceeds that of Portsmouth’s. He adds many donations coming out of Cincinnati are from businesses and corporations, not individuals. Bennington says that while others depend on big-dollar contributions from a few sources, he has received money from small, local businesses, from teachers, from construction workers and so on. Bennington argues that is the best part of this tale, that relatively small Portsmouth is enabling him to keep pace with the fundraising being done in the much bigger city of Cincinnati.
While Bennington held one fundraising event, a wine tasting at a local business, most of his donations have been made to his website. The last day to donate is Saturday. Go to http://pages.mwoy.org/soh/cincy18/nbenningto. Those interested can also mail donations directly to LLS and simply mention you are donating in Bennington’s name.
While Bennington repeatedly says how proud he is of his hometown’s response to his fundraising efforts, he is also proud of where he works. He argues SOMC’s diagnostic tools are state-of-the-art, “the best I’ve ever seen.”
Reach Tom Corrigan at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931