Memorial Hospital is the recipient of a large gift this holiday season from the estate of former Soddy-Daisy resident Rees Skillern, whose life was taken by cancer in 2012.
His parents, Hamilton County Commissioner Fred Skillern and his wife Bettye, donated $3 million from their son's estate to Memorial, which will use the funds to establish the Rees Skillern Cancer Institute.
"Memorial was very good to our son," Fred Skillern said. "We thought this might help some of his friends and will certainly help the community."
Rees Skillern was originally diagnosed with bone cancer, and he had a good six years before contracting myelodysplasia from exposure to radiation during chemotherapy, his father said. This turned into leukemia, and Rees Skillern went to Vanderbilt for a stem cell transplant.
He then went to Memorial for around 40 days and was in remission when he passed away in January 2012.
Fred Skillern said the new cancer center will enhance Memorial's research on detecting cancer in humans. Rees Skillern's bone cancer was misdiagnosed for two years, said his father. New technology will tell cancer patients whether their parents, children and siblings are at an increased risk for cancer and need to undergo testing, said Fred Skillern.
"It will basically enhance their ability to diagnose and treat cancer," he said of the new center, on which construction is set to begin soon. "Memorial was so good to our son, from the ones who cleaned his room to the nurses and doctors. We wanted to enhance their ability to do more for people in this area."