It’s simple enough to think of cancer as an individual affliction, but when Cody Ponder began his journey with the disease he was not the only victim. Friends, family, and loved ones were all impacted by the news. Much the same way, when cancer ultimately claimed Cody’s life, it was those left behind who suffered the most, among them, Cody’s wife Johnnie-Margaret McConnell.
“For me, Stephenson modeled genuine care and concern. They did that for me, my late husband, and any other family member or friend who might have been there with him.” Mrs. McConnell says of the experience, “As Cody walked through his 27 month journey, we were treated honestly, with care, and with respect. For what it was… it was the best experience we could have hoped for.”
Though losing a loved one is a blow that can’t easily be softened, McConnell says that the compassion she and her husband received during his battle with cancer has left a lasting impression.
“When we were in oncology receiving his various chemo treatments, the way every single staff member, physician, or assistant in that space treated you was like you were one of theirs. It was like being welcomed to a family.” She says, “As we were meeting with people, their genuineness in wanting to care for Cody was apparent to both of us… Even today when I see Stephenson’s people out and about, their first question is ‘how are you?’ The care continues whenever I run into them, and I can’t thank the staff enough.”
Today Johnnie-Margaret McConnell aims to pay that kindness forward, both in her work to train undergraduate tutors, and by serving on the Stephenson Cancer Center Board of Advocates. Whether it’s through volunteer work, advocacy, or financial contributions, she encourages anyone with a heart for giving to support the facility which made such a lasting impact on her life.
“There is always a way to give to Stephenson that supports the way you want to fight cancer,” McConnell says, “I want to help other people’s needs, that’s why we founded Cody’s Run to support current patient needs. This is what my husband genuinely cared about, and it’s part of his legacy.”