Kent State Employee Credits Wellness Incentives for Saving Her Life | Kent State University

Kent State Employee Credits Wellness Incentives for Saving Her Life

Should we all get regular checkups from our healthcare professionals? Yes.

Do we? Not always.

Would getting some kind of financial incentive help?

Well, for Barbara Spencer, the answer is yes. And it saved her life.

Ms. Spencer, business manager for the Office of the Dean of Students at Kent State University, was diagnosed with breast cancer last April. From June through August, she went through four chemotherapy treatments, and her radiation treatments began shortly after in September and ended in November.

“I didn’t want to believe it,” Ms. Spencer says. “I was just so surprised since cancer doesn’t run in my family.”

After five years of skipping her annual mammograms, Ms. Spencer was convinced by Kent State’s Employee Wellness program to get another check-up due to the monetary incentives that were offered. Her friends and family had also advised Ms. Spencer to get a checkup and take care of herself following her recent divorce. Luckily, that was when her cancer was caught early during its first stage.

Kent State’s Employee Wellness program provides services and resources to support Kent State employees physically, mentally and emotionally. The program also provides Wellness Rewards, where eligible employees may earn up to $300 in wellness incentives each year by participating in healthy lifestyle activities. These activities include voluntarily completing a health risk assessment and getting an annual physical.

“They told me it was hormone-driven,” Ms. Spencer says. “I was still dealing with a lot of stress because of my divorce, and I guess that was part of what took a toll on my body and physical health.”

Her initial response was mournful. She told her family. But none of her friends or co-workers knew at the time what she was going through; she did not want them to feel sorry for her. One of Ms. Spencer’s worst fears was losing her hair after going through chemo and radiation, but one of her three sons put her situation into perspective.

“He said, ‘Your hair or your life?’” she says.

It was then that this reality finally clicked for Ms. Spencer. She knew she had to beat this for her family and for herself. She considers herself a strong woman and does not mind weathering her struggles alone.

“I realized that I didn’t have to do it alone, and how fortunate I am to have so many people supporting me and helping me through this battle,” Ms. Spencer says. “I’m used to helping others, but accepting help was something I had to get more comfortable with.”

However, now that she has become a survivor, she is more willing to open up and share her story about how she overcame breast cancer.

With chemo and radiation finished, Ms. Spencer now must take hormone blockers for the next 10 years to prevent the cancer from coming back. After a long, tiring journey, she is hopeful for the future and grateful for her Kent State family and the ability to work in such a supportive environment.

Learn more about Kent State’s Employee Wellness program