Strategic Benefits & Chemo Unity: People are Good

Strategic Benefits & Chemo Unity: People are Good

Imagine being told you have Stage 4 cancer. You’re only 46 years old. It’s the type of cancer you once believed only impacts those who have reached the later stage of life or have a genetic predisposition. You have three children and you’ve lived a healthy, happy life until this very moment. This is the moment the whole world stopped for Robby Hertzel and his wife Cindy.

Robert (Robby) Hertzel passed away on Nov. 11, 2011, after a two-year battle with colorectal cancer. An active father of three, he was often seen on the golf course or playing paddle tennis. A leader at Northwestern Mutual, he was incredibly passionate about helping other people, especially his clients. With no prior family history of cancer, Robby never once placed priority on preventive cancer testing. However, after months of abdominal issues, his gastroenterologist encouraged him to get his first colonoscopy — the test that would change his life and the lives of his wife and three children. 

“By the time he had the colonoscopy, they found the cancer and rushed him into emergency surgery,” Cindy recalls. “By that point, it was in his liver and lymph nodes, and it was Stage 4. We had two children in high school, and one was a sophomore in college at the time.”

A two-year journey with chemotherapy ensued, but sadly it left Robby weak and helpless against the cancer.

“At one time, colonoscopies were reserved for patients over 50 years of age, and weren’t always covered by health insurance benefits, making them incredibly expensive for the average healthy patient. Barriers to screening were everywhere,” says Jennifer Homer, partner and strategic consultant for Strategic Benefits, Inc. of Cincinnati. “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, so many important screenings are now covered by insurance, opening the doors for preventive medicine.”

Robby chronicled his health journey through a blog and began encouraging his followers to get checked early and often. Like many malignancies, colorectal cancer can be treated if it is caught early. 

“Robby would want other men like him to know it’s OK to listen to your body when it is talking to you, slow down, and make time to take care of you,” says Cindy. 

He also wouldn’t want cancer patients to go through the struggle alone. That’s why he started Chemo Unity, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping cancer patients feel a little less alone during treatment sessions. Since 2011, the Chemo Unity crew has delivered more than 2,000 care bags to patients at area hospitals.

No matter what he was facing, Robby always found the good in people, Cindy says. “He would always say, ‘People are good.’ It was a phrase we believed in so much that we created stickers to support Chemo Unity. Occasionally, I still see these stickers on cars across the country, and it brings a smile to my face.” 

People are good. Indeed, they are. 

To learn more about benefit coverage and preventive screenings, reach out to Strategic Benefits, Inc. of Cincinnati at To support Chemo Unity, reach out to them on Facebook @Chemo-Unity.

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