“My Extended Life”

Grateful patient honors doctor with planned gifts

After Joan Tamulevich’s physician diagnosed her with multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer, her goal was to live life as well as she could for as long as she could. Joan also wanted to give hope to patients like her, which is why she made two planned gifts to Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in honor of her doctor, Arthur Rabinowitz, MD.

Dr. Rabinowitz treated Joan for 15 years before her death in 2018, performing two stem cell transplants that the Natick resident credited with prolonging her life. Chronicling the days after her transplants in a blog called My Extended Life, she posted this in 2009: “I am grateful and need to say LIFE IS GOOD.”

This gratitude prompted Joan to establish two planned gifts: a $50,000 charitable gift annuity (CGA) whose principal and interest went to the hospital after her death, and instructions in her will for a bequest to Lahey. These gifts were her way of paying back the doctor who gave her more time to enjoy the things she loved, like bowling, golf and any activity that allowed her to revel in sunny weather whenever she felt up to it.

“The Lahey Clinic has saved my life at least three times,” Joan wrote in her blog.

Even though cancer treatments sapped her energy, they didn’t stop Joan from making the most of every moment she had left. After a post-transplant round of golf, she blogged: “Playing 18 holes was an accomplishment for me. I am trying to keep my body in shape and am doing things I did before the transplant. Everything I do has been an accomplishment for me since the transplant.”

 

 

A life of service

Joan devoted her entire life to helping people, serving as a medic in the U.S. Navy in her younger years and — after her military service — as a psychologist, counseling service members and their families. “She was always more concerned about your well-being than her own,” said Dr. Rabinowitz. “She was a kind person.”

Because Joan specified in her will that she wanted to help people with the same condition she had, Dr. Rabinowitz plans to use the money she left to Lahey for the hospital’s stem cell transplant program.

Her faith in Dr. Rabinowitz’s work was clear from her blog, where she wrote: “He may be the one that may find a cure for multiple myeloma.”