The Silver Lining of Kindness: Dr. Sandy Goldberg Brings Humanity to Healthcare
Over the next few weeks, GOOD will be telling select winners’ stories in an effort to elevate kindness and its transformative power. Dr. Sandy Goldberg will use her award money to fund care for the 273 women (and counting) who are waiting in the queue for breast health testing and diagnostics.
Dr. Sandy Goldberg is a force. With a PhD in Clinical Nutrition, she spent much of her career treating patients with nutritional health issues but her path in the medical field did not stop there. This Chicago native saw an opportunity to have an even greater impact on others—and it stemmed from her own experience.
In 2000, just four months before Dr. Sandy got married, she went in for a regular mammogram. In her words, it looked “funky.” “I had a biopsy and they told me everything was okay, but it proved nine months later not to be the case.” Dr. Sandy had breast cancer. With the best medical care available and a strong support system, she went from patient to survivor and her experience propelled her to action.
After attending an American Cancer Society meeting with her oncologist, Dr. Sandy teamed up with them to create a cable show. “I was the host. They would find the guests specialized in the field of cancer, and people would call in for advice. I learned very quickly that people were using our show as their primary care physician. It broke my heart.”
The calls started to take a toll on Dr. Sandy. She would call every caller back to share her personal experience and provide perspective. One night, she started to cry about the work and the callers. “Have you ever had that lightning bolt thing happen?” she asks. “My husband asked me what I wanted to do about it, and in that moment I knew I wanted to start a foundation.”
In 2003, sitting at her kitchen table with her husband and a $2,500 check, A Silver Lining Foundation was born. It now has 24 participating organizations and 15 hospital partners with a potential 16th on the way.
“We started out providing resources and information for people who didn’t know where to go,” she says. Today, A Silver Lining Foundation includes five programs that were built over time based on the needs of the people they were treating. The core program is Buy a Mom a Mammogram. In that program’s first year, 95 screening mammograms were provided to uninsured women. Buy a Mom a Mammogram includes the entire spectrum of breast health—from screening mammograms, to ultrasounds and biopsies. Should anyone come through A Silver Lining and receive a diagnosis, the partner hospital and/or a charity care program will cover all costs for surgery and treatment. In 2016, more than 3,300 women benefitted from the available programs.
Dr. Sandy, the daughter of immigrants, attributes her Why not? selfless approach to her late mother. It’s why she didn’t keep the scope of A Silver Lining limited to just providing information. It’s also how she created the name for the organization. “My mother often reminded me that there’s always a silver lining,” Dr. Sandy recalls. “I can’t pretend to be blasé about it because this work is my whole heart. I consider this my mother’s legacy.”
Dr. Sandy fondly reflects on time spent with her parents, growing up in an environment where supporting others was a way of life. In reference to fellow human beings, her mother would say, “We’re all family. We help each other through tough times.”
That philosophy, which is rooted in kindness, empathy and generosity, continues to drive Dr. Sandy today. It’s why the Foundation has expanded its support to the underinsured—people that do in fact have insurance but also have astronomical deductibles and high copayments. In reflecting on her approach, Dr. Sandy agrees that it takes extraordinary strength to be kind and extend a hand to those in need. “I consider myself one of the most minor,” she suggests, when describing her own level of kindness. She also feels that people should get out of their own way. “If you’re clear about your mission, if you’re pure about what you do, and if you see the impact on lives, then to hell with what people tell you,” she says. “Just go ahead and do it anyway.”
The KIND Foundation, a separate 501c3 established by KIND Snacks, recently sought nominations for KIND People—individuals transforming their communities through kindness. Nearly 5,000 nominations were submitted, which proves kindness is thriving nationwide. Seven KIND People winners were selected, and The KIND Foundation is now distributing a total of $1.1MM in prizes to further their good work. These awardees are ordinary giants who have united their communities through selflessness and service. They inspire us to lead with empathy, forge an inclusive society, and live a life of purpose. Over the next few weeks, GOOD will be telling select winners’ stories in an effort to elevate kindness and its transformative power. Dr. Sandy Goldberg will use her award money to fund care for the 273 women (and counting) who are waiting in the queue for breast health testing and diagnostics.
Top photo: Dr. Sandy Goldberg with a patient. Middle photo: Dr. Sandy Goldberg in her clinic. Both photos by: Poon Watchara-Amphaiwan