Lucy Harp knows what it’s like to battle cancer, more than once, and that’s why she’s passionate about helping others fight the disease. That’s also why she has such gratitude for her employer, Citizens Union Bank, who stood by her every step of the way.
“If I made it into work for 20 minutes some days, they gave me credit for that whole day of work,” says Harp, Vice President of Accounting at CUB, remembering the months she walked through chemotherapy. “CUB was really, really good to me.”
Harp is one of many CUB employees who enthusiastically participate each year in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, a multiple-hour tag-team relay event that raises money for cancer research.
“CUB has raised as much as $5,000 some years,” Harp says. “They are huge supporters of Relay for Life.”
Harp, who has been involved with CUB’s Relay team since 1998, had a double mastectomy and 36 rounds of chemo in 1996 after learning she had breast cancer. Several years later cancer reoccurred. But after six months of chemo, she has been cancer-free since 2002.
Lots of support for employees
Spring Smith Yocum, Assistant Vice President and Manager of CUB’s customer care center, learned three years ago that her five-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia.
“It’s the worst feeling not being able to help your child,” Yocum says. “You can give all kinds of material things, but you can’t give them health.”
“CUB has been great and never questions when I have to leave to go to the doctor’s office or hospital,” says Yocum, who also participates in Relay for Life. “If I have to leave in the middle of the day to take him to the hospital, they say ‘Go.’ There’s never any question.”
Belinda Nichols found out she had early-stage cancer in June 2010, just weeks before her 50th birthday.
“That was not a very good birthday present for me,” says Nichols, Senior Vice President of Shelby Business Development at CUB. “I had a lumpectomy and 28 days of radiation. The radiation later led to skin cancer because I’m so fair-skinned.”
Nichols said Lucy Harp, who had recovered from cancer years earlier, was her supporter and cheerleader after Nichols joined CUB in 2014.
“When my five-year survivor anniversary came up, Lucy walked with me in Relay for Life and held my hand,” Nichols says.
On top of everything else, both of Nichols parents died within eight weeks of each other just months after she became a CUB employee.
“At the end of my first year, the CEO David Bowling called me into his office and told me to redo my attendance sheet because CUB wasn’t going to count the days off that I had to care for my parents,” Nichols says. “He wanted me to start the new year with a clean slate. Of course, I burst into tears right there in his office. I was so thankful for his kindness.”
Another way CUB employees help relieve the toll an employee faces with having to be out of the bank or taking sick days—they donate days out of their own accounts.
Helping the community at large fight cancer
Nichols says that because of her experience with surviving cancer, CUB’s customers have come to her for encouragement.
“I’ve had a few people stop by my office and ask if they could close the door and talk,” Nichols says. “I said ‘sure.’ They’d ask me if I could tell them about my experience with cancer and what to expect. Those are the things I feel I can do to give back and CUB allows me to do that. My conversation with a customer has nothing to do with banking. We’re talking about being a cancer survivor.”
Frank Page, Vice President of commercial lending and CUB’s Relay for Life team chair this year, lost his mother to lung cancer 22 years ago, and both his sister and niece have battled thyroid cancer.
“Cancer has hit me pretty close to home,” Page says. “One of the lessons I’ve learned is that cancer doesn’t discriminate. Rich or poor, old or young. It makes you know that tomorrow is never promised. Just enjoy each day and don’t take anything or anyone for granted.”
Page, who has been co-captain of CUB’s Relay team for three years, said CUB’s fundraising goal this year is between $4,000 to $5,000.
“The bank has always been very, very supportive of the community, especially Relay for Life,” Page says. “It’s really nice to work for an organization that isn’t just there for you during the good times to celebrate, but it’s also there in the rough times when things are hard. CUB’s got our back.”