Ponte Vedra couple establishes charity, launches inaugural fundraising event for cancer


A Ponte Vedra couple is set to partner with The DONNA Foundation for an inaugural “Night of Wine and Roses” event co-sponsored by their newly founded charity.

Linda and Bill Adams are co-directors of the CancerKare Fund, a charity that helps people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer pay for imaging and other necessary procedures. After deciding to embark on the journey just this month, the Adams have already planned an event they hope will be the first of many.

On Feb. 2, the Nocatee Welcome Center will be alight with live music, art and celebration. The Adamses will recognize Ponte Vedra Plastic Surgery’s Dr. Brett Snyder for his approach to breast cancer patients facing reconstructive surgery with the first “Breasty” Award acknowledging individuals who contribute to the fight against breast cancer. Fine wine, gourmet hors d’oeuvres, gifts, prizes and silent and live auctions will also be featured throughout the event, the proceeds of which will benefit The DONNA Foundation. Dr. Snyder will also be presented with an original oil painting by Bill Adams.

The couple has wasted no time since establishing CancerKare Fund in a bid to lessen the pain, fear and financial burden of people living with breast cancer. But it was a personal experience that drove them to act.

Empathy by experience

The lone symptom Linda Adams experienced before she was diagnosed with breast cancer seemed benign enough.

It could have been any number of things – trauma caused by the impact of a fall she’d taken while decorating her home at Christmastime, an infection or even plugged ducts in the tissue of the breast.

An ultrasound taken less than two months later would show no cancer, and the small odds of malignant cells kept worry at bay. By the time Linda had been referred to a surgeon for a needle biopsy, she was still under the impression that lone symptom was a sign of anything but breast cancer.

She went on about life as normal as she awaited definitive results when finally, on a shopping trip with her husband, the call came.

“Of course there was the shock and the emotional element,” Linda said, recalling the afternoon her worst fears had been confirmed. “But more than that … you just go numb. You don’t know how to respond.”

The “silent cancer” had gone undetected for Linda because the cells were atypical, or precancerous; and though the cancer was caught relatively early, the realization did little to soothe Linda’s worry. Facing each step presented new problems and realizations that the couple had never considered.

From changing the side of the bed Linda slept on to lessen the pain of getting out of bed to dealing with the insecurity she felt having a breast removed, the acceptance and worry came in waves.

“It was such an emotional time and it greatly affects your self-esteem and your outlook,” she said. “I was thinking of my grandchildren, my family. I kept thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’m too young for this.’”

Paying kindness forward

Like many people diagnosed with breast cancer, Linda thought of the illness as a death sentence. But it was the help she received from Pink up the Pace – which funded her MRI – and her breast cancer team, among them Snyder and next year’s Breasty recipient, Dr. Christine Routhier, that made all the difference. Following her mastectomy, Routhier recommended Snyder for her reconstructive surgery. Together, they worked through aftercare, surgery and recovery, guiding the couple each step of the way with the knowledge and humor Linda says was desperately needed at the time. Their help was ultimately what made the couple decide to pay that kindness forward and establish the CancerKare Fund.

“The journey was a series of steps – ignorance, knowledge, awareness, fright and acceptance,” Bill Adams said. “With CancerKare, we’re trying to share the second phase because it took us a long time to understand what we were getting into. This is how we’re able to help others become more aware.”

Now, they hope to bring their own experience to the table to create a resource that will be of help to others.

“The most important thing about all of this is that people understand it’s okay to reach out,” Linda said. “Don’t isolate yourself, don’t be embarrassed. We want to help people seek the help they need medically and emotionally.”