Angels on Earth

Helen and Jimmy CarlosHelen Carlos’ history with Piedmont Healthcare began long before her 2015 Breast Cancer diagnosis. Helen was born at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital and, along with her husband Jimmy, is well known throughout the Atlanta non-profit community for her generosity and vibrant personality.

Now cancer-free, Helen reflects on her journey and her role as Chair of Piedmont Healthcare’s annual fundraiser for Cancer Wellness programs, Angels on Earth. Helen reported, “On December 5, 2020, I [became] a 5-year cancer survivor. When you have that surgery, and they remove that cancer from your body, that’s when you are considered cancer-free because it’s been removed.”

Shortly after her diagnosis, Helen began receiving treatment at Piedmont West, which is also the home of the Thomas F. Chapman Cancer Wellness Center in Atlanta. She confessed, “To be honest, I knew nothing about the cancer wellness center. While I was sitting at the radiation center at Piedmont West, and I’d be waiting for my treatment, I would read the newsletter that was sitting out on the tables."

The newsletter Helen mentions is published every other month and made available to cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers who visit one of the five Cancer Wellness Centers at Piedmont for support. Almost every day of the week, Cancer Wellness Centers at Piedmont Atlanta, Henry, Fayette, Newnan, and Athens Regional Hospitals offer a variety of classes that help participants manage their circumstances by tapping into creativity, gaining knowledge, movement, and finding peace. Programs are open to all cancer patients, survivors and caregivers regardless of where they receive treatment and are free of charge.

Helen expressed the internal conflict she felt about participating in the offerings, stating, “I wanted to go, but one of the reasons I couldn’t go to some of the things I was interested in was because they were scheduled during the time of my radiation. The second reason is because I was having a really good outcome, and I couldn’t bring myself to face people who were not. That was a struggle I had within myself, but when I became more involved, I realized the importance of the center.”

Helen found a way to make an impact and did so initially by starting the Helen S. Carlos Education Fund. She said, “I wanted to give back, so Jimmy and I started a scholarship for nurses who work with cancer patients so that they could have the most updated knowledge.” Her next step was accepting the invitation to chair Angels on Earth for the past two years.

Angels on Earth started as a small group effort in individuals’ homes and then became an informational luncheon with a panel of expert speakers where friends and community partners were invited to learn more about the programs available and the importance of supporting the Center. In its 10th year, Angels on Earth became what we are more familiar with today—a celebratory reception on a Thursday evening in February. Now approaching its 14th year, Angels on Earth has raised over $600,000 to support Thomas F. Chapman Cancer Wellness.

The February 2020 fundraising event was the last largescale event held in partnership with the Piedmont Healthcare Foundation before restrictions were put in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and out of the abundance of caution, the Foundation has decided not to hold the fundraiser in person this year. As Helen states, what remains true is, “COVID has not put cancer on hold. People still need the center. People still need the services.”

Funds raised by Angels on Earth help to sustain the Thomas F. Chapman Cancer Wellness programs, and continued support is vital. In light of the current circumstances that may inhibit individuals’ and businesses’ ability to make charitable contributions, Helen says, “People’s finances have changed, and someone that may have given $1,000 in the past may only be able to give $500 or $250, but I’m finding that people are still being generous at this time. People are going to give to what they think is important. Any amount that people give is appreciated because it takes all amounts of money. Every amount helps.”

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