Thrive by IU Health

November 12, 2023

Familiar face seen in the movie, ‘Hoosiers’ and on local stages

IU Health Simon Cancer Center

Familiar face seen in the movie, ‘Hoosiers’ and on local stages

He’s quick to offer directions and a kind word and this team member is also an IU Health patient.

By TJ Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist,

Anyone who comes to IU Health University Hospital or Simon Cancer Center has most likely been greeted by Jeffery Hamilton. He is the watchful eye at the hospital entrance off of Barnhill Drive. For the past 11 years, Hamilton has served as a hospital valet cashier.

But his role goes beyond giving directions and parking information. Hamilton is often the first face patients see. He offers a friendly greeting and many team members and patients know they can grab a sugar fix from the candy jar Hamilton stocks up.

What they may not know is that Hamilton is also an IU Health Simon Cancer Center patient.

“The first time I was a patient here was five years ago when I broke my toe and had to have surgery at Methodist Hospital,” said Hamilton. Then three years ago, Hamilton was diagnosed with Adenocarcinoma, a type of cancer that begins in the glands.

Hamilton, was drying off after a shower and discovered some blood under his arms. As time went by he had biopsies and mammograms and was diagnosed with male breast cancer.

November is Men’s Health Awareness Month and Hamilton believes it’s a good time to remind men to follow their instincts.

“Men don’t talk about breast cancer and they don’t typically do self-exams. I would encourage them to get regular checkups - colonoscopies, prostate screenings, heart - whatever is age appropriate. If you feel something, say something,” said Hamilton.

Since his diagnosis, Hamilton has undergone surgery to remove the tumors, and also reconstructive procedures. He has been in the care of Drs. Carla Fisher, Aladdin Hassanein, Gregory Durm, and Mark Langer.

Through his testing, Hamilton was also diagnosed with cancer in his right lung. He recently completed five sessions of Sterotactic Body Radition Therapy (SBRT).

“Being a patient and seeing people come through our doors makes me think about their next steps. I can relate to the radiation patients and I really think about the kids,” said Hamilton. Pediatric oncology patients receive radiation therapy at IU Health University Hospital

“I try to give them a kind word or a smile to just help brighten their day,” said Hamilton. It’s something that has come naturally to him. He’s spent most to his life entertaining others through stage performances. His acting began about 50 years ago when he performed in the musical “Oliver” as a student at Knightstown High School. He has also performed with Footlight Musicals, Guyer Opera House, the Nettle Creek Players, and Theater on the Square. He was once a roving entertainer at Union Station - creating balloon animals and performing fire eating routines. He also worked at two Indianapolis costume shops.

One of his most memorable roles was as the band director in the movie, “Hoosiers,” starring Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper. The Indiana favorite tells the story of a small-town high school basketball team that enters the state championship.

“I like everything about theater but when I got my diagnosis things had to slow down,” said Hamilton. He recently tried his hand at a new hobby - painting. His watercolor illustrating the male breast cancer ribbon was part of IU Health’s 2023 CompleteLife Art show. He also enjoys reading - especially James Patterson books.

“I would say in this role, I always want to treat everyone the same but since my diagnosis I can see things a little more through the eyes of the patients.”

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