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Auction benefits family medicine residents fighting cancer

Katherine and David Strickland react after learning Katherine Strickland's residency assignment last March. Photo by Cliff Hollis
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Dec. 31, 2009)   —   Two family medicine residents at East Carolina University benefited from the generosity of their peers during a silent auction held Dec. 21.

ECU and Pitt County Memorial Hospital employees and friends contributed a total of $3,800 in winning bids for photos by Dr. John Stanton, a Brody graduate; photo calendars by Dr. Laura Zimmerman, an ECU resident physician; dinners at local restaurants; and more all to raise money to help Drs. Katherine Bray-Strickland and Anna Hudson, who are battling cancer, cope with medical expenses.

Dr. Daniel Becerra, one of the auction organizers, is a fellow family medicine resident. "The last thing these two people, who've inspired a lot of people at Brody, should have to worry about is medical bills," he said.

Becerra was a classmate of Bray-Strickland's at the Brody School of Medicine; they graduated in May. Hudson is a 2008 graduate.

Bray-Strickland was diagnosed with maxillary osteosarcoma, a cancer of the jaw, in 2005 and has had two recurrences. She praised her fellow residents for their work.

"It has been incredibly beautiful how the residency program has come together to support Anna and myself," she said. "The support has been a real source of strength for us. And I personally am so pleased that there are plans to help the program continue to help other residents having medical issues."

At Match Day in March, when graduating medical students received their residency assignments, Strickland received a standing ovation when her name was called and she walked up to retrieve her envelope.

"Katherine was a M1 student when she was diagnosed with cancer," said Dr. James Byrd, a clinical professor of internal medicine. "The first year of medical school is the most challenging. During the time away from Greenville, when the diagnosis was confirmed and treatment initiated, she never missed a beat and finished the year in good academic standing. And she did it with a fabulous smile and inspiring attitude."

Byrd said he and his wife, Dr. Lee Byrd, also a faculty member at Brody, bought 100 bracelets Becerra had made to "tell Katie's story to current M1 students." The bracelets are inscribed with the words "always believe" and "never back down."

Becerra said he would like not only to help Bray-Strickland and Hudson but also establish an emergency fund to help any resident faced with unexpected expenses. He thinks such a fund would help recruit residents to ECU and PCMH.

"We not only care about patients. We also care about each other," Becerra said.

Editor's note: Katherine Bray-Strickland died Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010.


Contact: Doug Boyd | 252-744-2482