System News

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - Ken Burger, who “generously shared his wisdom and experiences with our prostate cancer patients,” passes away

Ken Burger, well-known author, columnist, Roper St. Francis Healthcare ambassador and patient comforter, died Tuesday evening after a long, public battle with prostate cancer.

Born in 1950 and raised in Allendale, S.C., Burger never hesitated to share his personal story of graduating dead last in his class at the University of Georgia, marrying five times, recovering from alcoholism and fighting cancer. Despite those hardships, Burger remained upbeat, always saying he felt like a blessed, happy man.

Burger was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007. At The Post and Courier, Burger used his column on the Sports and Metro pages to urge men to get checkups for prostate cancer. After retiring from the newspaper, Burger focused on helping others, specifically counseling patients at the Roper St. Francis Cancer Center and chronicling his treatment on Roper St. Francis Healthcare’s blog, Health Hub.

“When I was first diagnosed I was scared to death,” he said in May, “but through writing about it, and through readers from across the state who reached out and shared their experiences with me, that fear dissipated.
“It’s like we’re all members of a big club. Knowing you’re not alone really helps.”

In addition to his visits with patients, Burger taught writing workshops for recently-diagnosed cancer patients who wanted to express themselves.

He also sponsored the Ken Burger Prostate Challenge Golf Tournament, held annually at Kiawah Island. Proceeds from the tournament support a nurse navigator for prostate cancer patients.

As a way to thank Burger for his contributions to Roper St. Francis Healthcare, the Roper St. Francis Foundation and Cancer Center leaders dedicated on May 21 a room in Burger’s honor. The new Ken Burger Consultation Room is located on the seventh floor of Roper Hospital in the Cancer Center. Burger nearly was speechless.

“I never ever expected this kind of recognition,” Ken said. “What I do is such a small thing compared to what the doctors and staff do in caring for patients.”

The cancer program staff, and the many patients who have been comforted and helped by Burger’s visits with them in waiting rooms, would disagree.

“Through his personal involvement as a lay navigator for our cancer program, Ken has so generously shared his wisdom and experiences with our prostate cancer patients and had a major positive impact on the prostate cancer patients’ experience at Roper St. Francis Healthcare,” said Dr. Steve Akman, medical director of Roper St. Francis Cancer Care.
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