Denise Kranich of CancerLINC
Denise Kranich began her professional life as a TV reporter and anchor, including a stint with Matt Lauer. She’s known locally for her role in developing Innsbrook After Hours. In 2006, however, she received news that continues to impact her life.
Denise Kranich began her professional life as a TV reporter and anchor, including a stint with Matt Lauer. She’s known locally for her role in developing Innsbrook After Hours.In 2006, however, she received news that continues to impact her life. When Kranich was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, she worried about her own mortality and her daughter’s welfare. Today, her experience impacts multitudes of people – in a positive way. After battling the disease, Kranich found herself wanting one thing – to help other cancer patients. Now, she’s doing just that with a local nonprofit.
Bill Bevins: Our special guest is Denise Kranich, executive director of CancerLINC in Richmond. We’re going to find out more about LINC in just a moment, but first, thank you for spending some time with us.
Denise Kranich: Thank you for having me.
BB: You and I have been friends for a long time.
DK: A long, long, long time.
Shelly Perkins: Are we talking decades?
BB: Many! I met you when Innsbrook was first starting, and they just had their 30th anniversary, so there it is. You were there putting together the Innsbrook After Hours concerts.
DK: I came in after Anne Joyner. She started the concert series when they were over by the front of Innsbrook.
BB: Behind what was Defazio’s at the time.
DK: Right. When I came along, it was kind of the second phase.
BB: So, this grew, obviously. It took off. Were you prepared for that success or did it kind of catch you off guard?
DK: We were hoping for it to do that well. Beach music had drawn a lot of crowds for a while, but we wanted to bring in other bands, to bring a whole new group of people and keep them coming out on Wednesday nights.
BB: You’re not from Richmond, are you?
DK: I’m a Floridian, born and raised in Tampa. I finished school at University of Houston and got a job at a television station in Port Arthur, Texas, KJAC-TV. I wanted to be Katie Couric or Jane Pauley. I wanted to be an anchor/television reporter. I started out as a weather girl and a reporter and then moved to being a full-time reporter.
SP: It’s funny you said you wanted to be Jane Pauley or Katie Couric, because you actually worked with somebody who did go on to national success.
DK: Yes, I worked with Matt Lauer here in Richmond with PM Magazine, way back there in the 80s. They were looking for a new female co-host.
BB: This was on Channel 8?
DK: It was WXEX back then. I had to put on a little tennis outfit and hit tennis balls and talk with Matt to see if we had chemistry. Apparently, we did.
SP: Here in Richmond? Who knew!
BB: Young Matt Lauer. How long did that go on?
DK: Actually, Matt was ready to move on to bigger times, but we were here together for about six months or so. I was really his first Katie Couric.
DK: He went on to Providence, Rhode Island, then they were on the search for a new co-host for me. I was the only host for a couple of months, then Cory Shields came on, and I was here for another year or so.
BB: So after your TV career, where did you go?
DK: My husband at that point, we opened a candle shop called Scentsations – you’d build [your own] candle.
BB: A natural progression from a TV career to a candle shop!
DK: I did some health club promotions, then I worked for the Independent Insurance Agents of Virginia.
BB: So you had a family. You have a daughter, right?
DK: I have a daughter. I got married when I was doing PM Magazine here in Richmond and then my husband started buying and renovating houses so it was hard for me to leave. You know how television and radio careers work: you work someplace for a couple of years and then you move on to the next place. Well, I got married so I stayed here, and then I tried to figure out, what am I going to do next?
BB: Let’s jump ahead – you had some health problems?
DK: Yes, in 2006 I was diagnosed with Stage 2-A breast cancer – a big shock. I had recently gotten separated and my daughter was 15. First thing you think is, “Oh, my god, am I going to die?” The next thing you ask is, “What’s going to happen to my daughter? I want to be here for her when she graduates from high school, when she goes to college and gets married.” Very terrifying.
BB: That led you to change careers, correct?
DK: I was at Innsbrook for 18 years. I had cancer when I was there. They were so good to me and told me to take as much time as I needed. When I had cancer, deep down inside, I knew that someday I would probably be working with cancer survivors or patients. I just felt that in my heart.
SP: What does CancerLINC do for people who are suffering with cancer?
DK: We help people who have cancer with their legal and financial issues. It could be something as simple as someone needing a will or power of attorney or advanced medical directive, or it could be more complicated issues like employment discrimination, insurance denials, Social Security denials, foreclosures on their home, bankruptcy, medical debt. We have about 200 attorneys and financial consultants who help – free of charge – all of our clients. We’re in Richmond, Petersburg, 13 surrounding counties – the only organization of its kind in the United States.
SP: Is this how you saw yourself helping cancer patients?
DK: I didn’t, because what CancerLINC does is very different. I just knew that I wanted to help cancer patients someday. When it was time for me to leave Innsbrook, LINC [was] looking for an executive director and I said, “Isn’t that something to do with cancer? Maybe I should check it out.” The rest is history.
BB: You help a lot of folks who don’t have the money for a lawyer. You’ve said most people don’t even know what questions to ask.
DK: They don’t. A lot of these folks are very low income – they’ve never talked to an attorney before and they’ve just been diagnosed with cancer. They don’t even know if their rights are being violated. Like, if they get fired from their job, do they have rights? Can they take time off? Do they have a job that’s physically demanding, and can their company let them do something that’s a little less demanding while they go through cancer treatment? We can put them in touch with an attorney; they can call for a consultation. If they need more, they can meet with the attorney. As long as they qualify for our services, the attorney does it free of charge.
BB: If you have a cancer victim that’s reading the article right now, how do they get in touch with you?
DK: They can call 804-562-0371, ext. 101. Barbara Apostle is our client services assistant and will gather the information we need.
BB: Thank goodness you got cancer. Isn’t that a strange thing to say? It really worked out well for a lot of people.
DK: I wouldn’t change that. A lot of cancer survivors would say that. I don’t want to get it again, ever, but it’s changed my life, changed the lives of people because helping one person at a time is great. I’m a different person now and I like this person a lot better than the one 10 or 11 years ago.
BB: I liked you all along. Our very special guest is Denise Kranich, executive director of CancerLINC in Richmond. Thank you. It’s always good to see you.
DK: Thank you guys very much.