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Markey patient inspires bluegrass tradition

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Daphne Scruggs Fields loved music. She taught herself how to play the banjo and upright bass, and she was well known throughout her local bluegrass community, where she played with numerous bands.

The Frankfort, Ky., woman passed away at the age of 34 in 2013 from triple-negative breast cancer, two years after her initial diagnosis, but her family knew they wanted to keep her memory alive and honor her love of music.

That’s why the Scruggs family created the nonprofit Daphne’s Legacy to raise funds for research and promote awareness of triplenegative breast cancer. The disease is an aggressive and hardto-treat form of breast cancer that often affects younger women like Fields, a wife and mother of two children.

Daphne’s Legacy holds an annual 5K run/walk, silent auction, concert and other events over the course of two days each April, around the time of Fields’ birthday.

  • Donating close to home

    The family initially gifted funds raised through Daphne’s Legacy to a national research organization but shifted its focus to benefit the local community because Fields received her treatment at the UK Markey Cancer Center. The family was also inspired by the Markey researchers who are pursuing new treatments for this type of breast cancer.

    Daphne’s Legacy has raised $23,000 for research at Markey, allowing Markey Director Dr. Mark Evers to determine the best use of the funds for research related to triple-negative breast cancer.

  • A legacy of music

    After meeting and talking with the Markey Cancer Foundation’s philanthropy staff, the family also wanted to give back to the music therapy program, which was important to Fields when she was a patient.

    “Music is great for the soul, and Daphne and our entire family believes that wholeheartedly,” said Melissa Mills, Fields’ aunt and president of the nonprofit.

    Music therapy, which is part of the UK Creative Arts Therapy program, can help patients cope with stress, pain, anxiety and other challenges associated with illnesses. It includes everything from singing and playing an instrument to musical movement and writing songs. Any physician can prescribe music therapy for a patient at UK HealthCare.

    Fields’ family donated money to establish a scholarship fund for UK’s music therapy interns, who must complete supervised clinical training. Most music therapy internships nationally are unpaid, but this scholarship includes a stipend for interns, which will give UK an advantage in attracting the best students from around the country.

    The family also gave a banjo for music therapists to use so that patients can enjoy bluegrass music or try their hand at playing the instrument themselves.

    Mills says the family is grateful for the opportunity to support current and future patients at Markey in honor of Daphne.

    “We’re extremely happy to be able to give locally,” said Mills. “Our hope is to give a little bit more each year. We’re glad to be in this partnership with UK, where scientists and doctors are actively pursuing better treatments and a cure for triple-negative breast cancer.”