shame on chestnut hill college – no compassion for cancer patient

File under God don’t like ugly:

Posted: Thu, May. 3, 2012, 3:00 AM  College rigid on cancer patient’s request

Ronnie Polaneczky, Daily News Columnist Philadelphia Daily News

Maybe not enough administrators at Chestnut Hill College know what it’s like to fight cancer.

If they did, how could they deny a student named B. Elizabeth Furey?

In July, Furey, 28, will finish the final three credits required for her master’s degree in clinical and counseling psychology. She had hoped the school would allow her to hear her name called as she strode across the graduation stage on May 12, to the cheers of her family and friends.

However, Chestnut Hill has a policy that no student may cross the stage until his or her courses are complete. So Furey isn’t permitted to walk until May 2013.

The problem is, Furey is sick with a rare form of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer. There’s a chance that, this time next year, she will be too ill to participate in graduation. And, although she won’t dwell on it, there’s also a chance she won’t be here at all.

“We just don’t know,” says Furey, who grew up in Doylestown and was working as a schoolteacher in Florida when she was diagnosed in 2006. She’s now back in Doylestown, where she counsels victims of violence.

“I try to live as though everything will be OK. But in reality, it’s an unknown.”

For about 85 percent of people with Hodgkin’s, the cancer is curable. Sadly, Furey falls into the 15 percent for whom the disease is recurrent. Since her diagnosis, she’s had many setbacks. After the last one, in 2010, her parents were advised to prepare her “for a good death.”…..

Chestnut Hill College accepted 12 of the master’s credits that Furey had earned in Cambridge, then another 12 when she proved to be a stellar student. In the last two semesters, Furey completed clinical work that takes most students three semesters to finish. She wanted to make as much progress as possible while she was feeling well.

“The image of different milestones keeps me going,” she says. “This past year, I would picture myself walking across that stage at graduation and hearing my name called. I would picture my family cheering. It got me through some very hard days.”

In January, Furey learned of Chestnut Hill’s stringent graduation policy, which is different from the policies of many other colleges…..Furey and oncologist O’Connor wrote to Chestnut Hill’s dean of academic affairs, Kenneth Soprano, explaining the unpredictability of Furey’s cancer and requesting flexibility….But the school wouldn’t budge.

I am finding this Catholic College has questionable Christianity.   Not that we should be surprised at their unfeeling hypocrisy.

Chestnut Hill College is also my mother’s alma mater.

Well the Chestnut Hill College of today seems to have more oops they did it again moments than Britney Spears.  In the not too distant past there was the issue of the firing of the gay professor .  Yes a beloved prof was canned for being gay. Now at the time, I wrote the school because I thought that was horrible, naturally they never responded.

But now my mother’s alma mater has done something offensive which hits close to the cancer feelings in me.  It involves a woman with a rare form of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  She has a few more credits left, and will finish in July.  But she wants to walk with her class at traditional graduation now.  You know, while she is feeling well enough to do that?  Not get her diploma, just walk.  So her friends and family can celebrate her accomplishments.

But this is not to be, apparently.

Chestnut Hill said “no”.    Who knows if this brave woman named Elizabeth Furey will be well enough or alive NEXT May when Chestnut Hill says she can walk.   We all know once cancer touches you, every day is a gift.

Chestnut Hill College should change their policy.  Other schools in the area, including other Catholic institutions, allow people to walk if they have just a couple of credits left.

Even if Chestnut Hill College did not want to change their policy, they could on compassionate grounds make a one-time exception.

Shame on Chestnut Hill.  If you or a loved one has ever been touched by cancer, take a minute to contact the college to ask them to reconsider.  It would be nice for Elizabeth Furey to be able to do this.  And it would cost the school nothing.  What jerks they are being.

Kathleen M. Spigelmyer
Director of Communications
Chestnut Hill College
9601 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19118
Phone: 215.248.7025
FAX:    215.248.7196

Kenneth J. Soprano, Ph.D.

Vice President for Academic Affairs/Dean of the Faculty
Office Location:  St. Joseph Hall, Third Floor, Room 80
Office Phone:  215.248.7022

School of Graduate Studies Phone: 215.248.7018


Carol Jean Vale, SSJ, Ph.D.

Office Location:  St. Joseph Hall, Second Floor
Office Phone:215.248.7021

Mary Darrah, SSJ, M.A.

Assistant to the President for Mission and Ministry
Office Location:  St. Joseph Hall, Third Floor
Office Phone:215.248.7031 E-Mail:

Galbally, Mary Ann Assistant to the Dean215.753.3606


About carla

Writer, blogger, photographer, breast cancer survivor. I write about whatever strikes my fancy as I meander through life.
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2 Responses to shame on chestnut hill college – no compassion for cancer patient

  1. John D says:

    This college needs to take responsibility for their actions. There is so much that goes down at that college. Students are scared to talk because of consequences from the administration. I am tired of being told to be quiet just because I work there. It’s time to speak up and speak out. I know people who work there and they have seen not only disability claims but also racial issues.

  2. Pingback: saving face: chestnut hill college changes mind on cancer patient | ihavebreastcancerblog

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