As a brain tumor survivor, Susan Shimkus Lemkuil, a realtor and West Hartford resident, remembers being put in touch with someone to talk to after she was diagnosed in February 2007.
“One person gave me somebody out of state to talk to,” Lemkuil recalls. “She was very negative. I am a really positive person. I am very driven. I never say, ‘why me?’”
Now, as a board member and volunteer for the CT Brain Tumor Alliance (CTBTA), Lemkuil talks to many patients who are living with brain tumors, offering that compassionate ear and sometimes making phone calls to help people get appointments. It is work like this that has earned Lemkuil some recognition.
The Greater Hartford Association of Realtors (GHAR) has announced that it’s awarding Lemkuil, of SML Real Estate, Inc. in Hartford, the first annual 2021 GHAR Good Neighbor Award in recognition of her work with CTBTA. As part of the award, CTBTA received a check for $1,000, which was provided by the GHAR Foundation. The Community Involvement Committee of GHAR organized the Good Neighbor Award program, with criteria provided by the National Association of Realtors.
The CTBTA offers support groups to survivors and their families, and support for people who have lost loved ones.
CTBTA Executive Director Chris Cusano said Lemkuil’s positive attitude was inspirational to him when he was diagnosed in 2008. “She is one of the strongest and most remarkable individuals that I’ve met. I’m glad to have met her and just watching her positivity through it all, connecting with patients and supporting them through their journey, hosting events and raising money for the cause.”
The organization holds several events throughout the year to raise money for Connecticut hospitals, including Hartford Hospital, Yale, and St. Francis as well as for research at the University of Connecticut. Funds go to programs such as patient assistance, providing living expenses including rent, electric bills, and groceries. Previous fundraising has gone toward pediatric brain tumor research at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
“We want to help patients to stay in the state of Connecticut and want them to get the best care,” Lemkuil said.
Cusano said residents incur burdensome expenses by going out of state to receive care.”Your life changes drastically if you have to uproot and move to another state.” He added that tremendous research and medical care is available within the state.
The next event coming up is the group’s eighth annual Path of Hope family fun run/walk on Sun., May 23. While the event is virtual, Lemkuil will be doing a walk with a fellow survivor. To sign up, or donate to this event, go here.
The GHAR is a real estate trade association, serving more than 4,800 members in the Greater Hartford and Litchfield County real estate brokerage communities, which provides technology, training, networking, and business support to its members.