McLeod Health Foundation

Sam Altman's Legacy - Turning Heartbreak into Victory

Sam and Gloria at RelaySam Altman was just the kind of guy that you know you would have liked.  He was what Southerners affectionately refer to as a "good ole boy." In this case, the emphasis is on "good."  Sam was born and raised on a farm in Johnsonville, SC. He enjoyed fishing, camping, boating and riding his Harley with friends; all attributes held in high esteem in the south.  He loved working and was part owner of Johnsonville Mechanical Contractors, Inc. Sam dearly loved his family, friends, church and especially his sweetheart, Gloria Evans.  This love, evident in a life spent looking for ways to help others, carries on to this day.

His desire to serve actually transformed his tragic early death from cancer into a decision that would continue to help others for years.

Sam's journey began on January 7, 2007, after he learned he had lung cancer. Sam dealt with this diagnosis by working furiously with his backhoe, recalls Gloria.  Dr. Rajesh Bajaj of McLeod Oncology and Hematology Associates began caring for Sam.  He was treated with both radiation and chemotherapy at McLeod. 

In 2010, Sam learned that the cancer was back in the form of a brain tumor.  He received traditional surgery at McLeod Regional Medical Center from neurosurgeon Dr. Andy Rhea. While there, his beloved grandmother who had helped raise him, Crosier Altman Daniels passed away.  Sam was able to be released in time to attend her funeral. 

Sam then followed up by traveling to Columbia for treatments by Dr. Rhea's partner, Dr. James Brennan with the Gamma Knife.  (Gloria and Sam's family were pleased to learn that with the Stereotactic Radiosurgery Unit being installed as part of the new McLeod Center for Cancer Treatment and Research, patients like Sam will no longer have to leave loved ones and travel to another city for this specialized care.)

It was at one of his appointments that Sam, accompanied by Gloria, asked Dr. Bajaj how he could use his estate to best help others who would be facing this diagnosis.  Dr. Bajaj was able to share with Sam that McLeod Health was in the process of building a new Cancer Center to benefit patients in the region, through both treatment and research.  This appealed to Sam's love of home and he and Gloria were put in touch with the McLeod Foundation for assistance in fulfilling Sam's wishes.

On December 11, 2012, Sam passed away peacefully with just Gloria by his side, as he had wished.

In February of 2013, Gloria fulfilled Sam's desire to help others by presenting a check from his estate to Dr. Bajaj and his nurse, Wendy Yarborough.  This very generous gift to the McLeod Foundation, designated for the new McLeod Center for Cancer Treatment and Research, will help ensure the best cancer care for patients in Sam's beloved region of South Carolina and extend his legacy of love and caring for generations to come.

To learn more about bequests and how they can support McLeod, contact Roxanna Tinsley, McLeod Health Foundation, at (843) 777-2694, rtinsley@mcleodhealth.org or visit the Foundation’s Web site at www.mcleodfoundation.org.