If you want to get something done, involve Jean Kitchin UNC Class of 1970. People who know the Scotland Neck resident will say she has one setting — full speed ahead.
Her contributions to UNC Lineberger are across the spectrum. From service on the Board of Visitors to interviewing UNC researchers for local television to engaging community groups with UNC Lineberger, her contribution to expanding awareness of and support for the cancer center in her community and across the state is difficult to exaggerate!
Kitchin lost her late husband to metastatic lung cancer and then experienced a serious cancer diagnosis with her new husband, Hodge, shortly after getting married. She says, “After completing eight years on the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees, I wanted to stay involved in an area of the university that was especially important to me. At that time, the University Cancer Research Fund was approved by the General Assembly and the forwardthinking, strong leadership at UNC Lineberger and UNC Health Care made the Lineberger board a great fit for me.”
Kitchin, a local business owner who runs several pharmacies, got into television by volunteering to demonstrate recipes from a Junior League cookbook she worked on in the early 1980s. She loved it and ended up cohosting and coproducing a live morning show. Now, her involvement with “Tar Heel People,” a public affairs show on five N.C. stations, and two local shows in Rocky Mount gives her a place to showcase the things she cares about. At least once a year, she and her camera crew come to UNC Lineberger to film a series of interviews about the latest research and treatments coming out of UNC labs and clinics.
“The preparation is really interesting,” she says, “I study really hard to understand what they do, and it is such a priceless opportunity to ask questions on television so a broad audience can experience firsthand their passion for their work and their great care and concern for their patients. I am always in awe of these bright scientists who are trying to find better treatments and cures for all of us.” Kitchin also works hard to make connections in the community. On a previous charity project, she met a local minister who is now a good friend. Last spring, he mentioned that he was trying to educate a group of about 300 predominately African-American men about prostate cancer. Kitchin suggested someone from UNC Lineberger. Matthew Neilsen, MD, volunteered to drive to Rocky Mount to speak on a Saturday morning. “Close to 300 men took a PSA test after hearing him speak.”
Kitchin spreads the word about UNC Lineberger wherever she can. “When a person gets diagnosed with cancer, it is so important to go to a comprehensive cancer center. At UNC Lineberger, the treatment is not only state-of-the-art, but it is given by the kindest, most caring physicians and health care professionals found anywhere.”