Foundation Suffers Loss of Two

Wendy Wasserman-Kellogg and Adam Burke

NorthBay Healthcare Foundation lost two of its boardmembers in the fall of 2018 to cancer, a huge loss for their families, for NorthBay Healthcare and the entire community, according to Brett Johnson, NorthBay Healthcare Foundation president.

Wendy’s Courageous Battle

Wendy Wasserman-Kellogg passed away Sept. 27 at VacaValley Hospital after a nearly five-year battle with breast cancer.

“Wendy’s battle with cancer was a courageous one that was met with strength, resolve and good humor,” said Johnson. “She will be missed by her family, her lifelong friends in the community, her Soroptimist sisters in Vacaville and all of us at NorthBay Healthcare.”

Wendy was under the care of oncologist and hematologist James Long, M.D., and was the first NorthBay patient whose case was reviewed by Mayo Clinic experts, after NorthBay Healthcare became a member in the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

She shared her story with readers of our Fall 2016 Wellspring magazine.

She was diagnosed with her first bout of breast cancer in 2014, and a year later teamed up with her good friend, graphic designer and local artist Tara Baumann, to create “Jewel,” a sculpture of a woman’s torso covered in jewels that tell the story of Wendy’s journey.

It was purchased by oncologist and hematologist J.D. Lopez, M.D., at a fundraiser, and is featured on the third floor of the NorthBay Cancer Center.

At the time, Wasserman explained the symbolism.

“The stomach area in front is all black jewelry because it represents the pit in my stomach when I found out I had cancer,” she said.

As you move up the torso, bright colors take over. This was the façade she showed the world.

“My message was always, ‘I’m great; I’m going to beat cancer.’ But on the back, red jewelry runs from the base up the spine, representing fear. On the back, the jewelry becomes pure white. It was me, pushing my fear away, always going for a cure.”

On the neck, colors alternate between white and black. “I’m cured. Maybe not… It represents the big question,” said Wasserman. “Are we ever really cured? It’s the big wonder.”

Wasserman joined the Foundation Board of Directors in 2016, bringing enthusiasm, community connections and a willingness to participate and promote programs and events.

She became one of the first members to join NorthBay’s Patient and Family Advisory Council, sharing her patient experience with those who could effect positive changes in specialty and hospital care.

She was well known in Vacaville, where her family owns and continues to operate Wasserman Travel on Merchant Street. She was a longtime member of Soroptimist International of Vacaville, serving as president from 1987-88. She and her husband Jim Kellogg were honored as Vacaville Fiesta Days Parade grand marshals in 2013. She wore the sash as Miss California Queen in 2014 and that same year was presented with the Christine Franklin Award by NorthBay Healthcare for her exemplary advocacy and support of women’s health issues in Solano County.

Loss of a Creative Genius

Adam Burke was diagnosed with lung cancer in January and passed away Oct. 8. NorthBay Healthcare leaders, board members, employees and volunteers said goodbye to Foundation Board Member Adam Burke during a celebration of life event, held on Oct. 20 in Vacaville.

Adam, a non-smoker, is survived by his wife, Kim, and their two sons, Aidan and Zachary. Zachary works in NorthBay Medical Center’s Environmental Services Department.

Adam became a board member in 2015 because he wanted to help his community, said Johnson.

An extremely talented artist-animator and creative genius for Pixar, Adam contributed to the success of the Solano Wine & Food Jubilee and other philanthropic endeavors. His artwork was featured for Open That Bottle Night and for the 2017 Jubilee.

“He elevated the reputation of many of our public fundraising events, donating his own imaginative artwork and hosting fabulous, one-of-a-kind tours of Pixar Studios in Emeryville for lucky families of the highest bidders,” said Johnson. “He gave his time at NorthBay management and employee meetings, showing how Pixar did its magical work.”

Adam’s wife, Kim, has also been generous with NorthBay, serving as a Guild volunteer. Adam and his family were deeply moved when the Foundation organized “The Burke’s Christmas in September,” inviting a few hundred people to stop by the family’s Fairfield home and share their love with Adam. Although it was 90-plus degrees that day, many guests wore Christmas sweaters and Santa hats, sharing cheer through the tears.