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Grateful Patient, Grateful Heart

How the impact of patient care created a gift to last a lifetime

Emily Gohman
Emily Gohman

Every day our employees provide care to patients: sometimes it’s for a one-time encounter, sometimes it’s for ongoing care or even for a long-term health issue. But what if after years of caring for a patient, and even after her passing, you find out she was so impacted by the care she received from your team, that she left a gift big enough to help other patients for years to come?

In 2022, our CentraCare Foundation was notified that a grateful patient, Emily Gohman, who passed away in 2018, left a legacy gift in honor of the care she received during her cancer journey and treatment with us.

Oncologist Hani Alkhatib, MD
Oncologist Hani Alkhatib, MD

According to her Oncologist Hani Alkhatib, MD, “It is an honor to speak about Emily. As my former patient, I will always remember her patience, kindness and resilience during the 11 years I treated her. She fought bravely through her three separate cancer diagnoses.”

“Although one of these three cancer diagnoses alone would have been immensely difficult, she maintained her emotional and physical strength during her cancer diagnoses and treatments. Her resilient, optimistic demeanor will never be forgotten. While she had every reason to, she never complained or questioned her path moving forward. She fought through every obstacle and prepared for the next one. She never missed a single appointment and continued to show her positive spirits and kindness during each of our interactions. She refused to let her treatment or diagnosis deprive her of a life outside of the clinic as she maintained her interests in golfing, travelling to California and spending time with friends and family. She also maintained the strongest desire to keep living and fighting up until she passed away in 2018.

“Her generous donation to CentraCare is the perfect example of her never-ending fight. With her donation, she has effectively ensured that she will never stop fighting against cancer as patients continue to come and receive treatment. She was admirable and selfless. It truly was my honor to be her oncologist.”

The initial $2.5 million gift is held in a fund that will allow it to continue into perpetuity, so Emily’s generosity will help patients like her, and their families, for generations. The gift will include an annual distribution of 5% of the account value each year to the CentraCare Foundation to benefit the Coborn Cancer Center, St. Cloud Hospital Oncology Unit and CentraCare Hospice.

Emily's family
From top left: Betty, Tom, Anton, Frances and Emily

Growing up in St. Stephen and the youngest of three siblings (Betty, Tom and Emily), she was smart and active — skipping a grade in elementary school and eventually going on to business college after high school. She golfed and was a member of a women’s bowling team, among many other activities. Emily married Lewie Gohman, owner and operator of Granite City Redi-Mix in 1971. They were married for 30 years until Lewie’s passing in 2002. Throughout her life, and Emily’s love for warm weather took her to California every winter. According to her brother, Tom Trobec, “She was a great entertainer and so well put-together, she always looked her best. She loved to golf and she belonged to St. Cloud Country Club, and then golfed during the winters in California. She was always willing to help anyone, especially on a cancer journey. And her own cancer journey lasted 11 years and she never complained, not once. She was so kind and courageous.”

And so many others who knew Emily would agree to her kind heart and courageous spirit. In knowing Emily for more than 30 years, Brad Wheelock of RBC Wealth Management said, “She became as much of a friend as a client. She took pride in her presentation, but she was modest and humble. She did not need any fanfare or recognition and that’s what made her special.

“I have the privilege of helping our clients achieve their goals — whether they are focused on family, retirement, business or philanthropy — and in my role, I get the opportunity to help bring these dreams to life. We served as the trustee on Emily’s estate, and in her case the cancer diagnosis gave her an opportunity to reflect and consider where she really wanted her assets to go. As she embarked on this journey alone, the professionals who provided her with care and treatment took on a deeper role for her — one of comfort and support. Ultimately, since CentraCare was so important to her, she wanted something that would benefit their patients for years to come. There was a lot of thought and intention behind the gift, which was a deliberate, conscious effort to help cancer patients who will travel the same journey and has the potential to help a lot of people for years to come. By shining a light on Emily’s giving, our hope is that others may be moved to follow.”

Ken Holmen
Ken Holmen, MD

For CentraCare, the gift from Emily leaves a lasting legacy — one that our patient care staff helped to inspire. According to Ken Holmen, MD, CentraCare President & CEO, this gift is a perfect example of how our teams and the work they do greatly impacts our communities.

“The Emily Gohman gift is centered on the relationship she had with her care team, specifically in the cancer center and hospice program, during her health journey,” Dr. Holmen said. “Her gift emphasizes that trusted relationship. It highlights the valuable services our teams provide — and the impact we have on our patients and communities.”

Joy Plamann
Joy Plamann

“This gift will have a profound impact on the interdisciplinary team that provides cancer care to patients and their families for years to come,” said Joy Plamann, DNP, MBA, RN, BC, CentraCare Senior Vice President of Central Operations and St. Cloud Hospital President. “Emily recognized how the various disciplines work together every single day to provide physical, emotional and spiritual care to those when they need it the most on their cancer journey. We are so grateful for this tremendous gift.”

Emily’s ability to leave a lasting impact on others was documented early on in her senior high school yearbook photo caption, “Small — but so is a stick of dynamite.” Just like dynamite, Emily’s legacy to keep supporting others even after she is gone will have an everlasting impact.