Be Resilient: Keep Pedaling Forward

After overcoming HPV-related squamous cell carcinoma, Matthew looks forward to embracing an active lifestyle again.

Matthew Robinson was unsuspecting and shocked when he learned that the months of headaches he had been experiencing were likely due to cancer, and not just long work hours.

The 58-year-old triathlete was diagnosed in July 2017 with squamous cell carcinoma, after a PET scan showed a tumor at the base of his tongue.

Even more surprising, Matthew said, was learning that his cancer was probably caused by human papillomavirus, or HPV.

While tobacco and alcohol are two of the most common risk factors of cancers in the back of the throat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says recent studies show that about 60% to 70% of cancers of the oropharynx may be linked to HPV.

Continue reading “Be Resilient: Keep Pedaling Forward”

Be Resolute: Crossing the Finish Line Twice

Facing cancer again, marie is determined to cross the finish line with her oncology nurse navigator, for a second Time

Marie Candiotti has her eyes set on Orlando 2020. Her mission – to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon in full princess costume.

She’s also fighting cancer for the second time around.

“She is the embodiment of courage,” described Marie’s husband, Lou. Self-dubbed Captain of Team Candiotti, Lou has watched his wife face cancer fearlessly since receiving the first diagnosis in 2017.

It was stage 3 ovarian cancer, Marie and Lou were told on Feb. 15, 2017. Marie had been having trouble emptying her bladder, and went to the ER after she couldn’t complete a set of jumping jacks. A lifelong fitness instructor, she otherwise looked and felt healthy. She was working for St. Joe’s ShapeDown program at the time.

This diagnosis was shocking and disorienting.

Continue reading “Be Resolute: Crossing the Finish Line Twice”

St. Joe’s Ann Arbor Gynecologic Oncology Team Receives Grant to Fund Pilot Project for Ovarian Cancer Patients

Rebecca Liu, MD, Nicole Brashear, NP, and the gynecologic oncology team at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor received the 2019 Geri Fournier Ovarian Cancer Research Award from the Michigan Ovarian Cancer Alliance (MIOCA). The $50,000 grant will fund their pilot project for ovarian cancer patients.

MIOCA announced the research grant on May 8, World Ovarian Cancer Day. Since it started giving grants in 2014, MIOCA has awarded over a half-million dollars to researchers in Michigan who are finding new ways to improve the early detection and treatment of ovarian cancer.

St. Joe’s project, titled, “EASE: Education, Alliance, Solace and Empowerment for Ovarian Cancer Patients” was designed by Dr. Liu and her team, and is a comprehensive curriculum to complement the care and management of ovarian cancer patients.

Continue reading “St. Joe’s Ann Arbor Gynecologic Oncology Team Receives Grant to Fund Pilot Project for Ovarian Cancer Patients”

Be Driven

Michael McCarty, this year’s patient speaker at the annual Shine a Light on Lung Cancer event, credits his survival to a single, desperate message he sent from a hospital bed to transfer his cancer care to St. Joe’s.

Photo_Michael McCarty
Michael McCarty (left) was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2012, when his children were 13, 11 and 7 years old. Today, his cancer is managed with a variety of targeted therapy drugs.

Over the course of his six-year lung cancer journey, Michael McCarty has been to the brink of death and back. And though he accepts the sober truth that time is limited, he tells people, “it’s never too late.”

Michael was diagnosed in September 2012 with non-small cell lung cancer – a type of cancer that occurs mainly in current or former smokers. As Michael would soon learn, it’s also the most common type of lung cancer seen in non-smokers like him.

He was just 43 years old. His children were 13, 11, and 7. He was given 18 months to live. Continue reading “Be Driven”

Low-Cost Mammography Days 2018

2018-09-28 09_41_27-15601_MammographyDayFlyer(2018)-PRINT-D2.pdf - Adobe AcrobatSt. Joseph Mercy Breast Imaging and Huron Valley Radiology, P.C. are offering low-cost 2D screening mammograms for $50 in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month on the following days:

Oct. 18, 2018 |Chelsea

Oct. 19, 2018 | Brighton, Canton, Chelsea, Howell, Livonia, Plymouth and Ypsilanti

  • Women 40 years* and older with no current breast problems and have not had a mammogram within the last year are eligible.
  • Fee is $50 cash, check or credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express) will be accepted at appointment time.
  • A signed physician order is required.
  • If your mother or sister was diagnosed with premenopausal breast cancer, mammography screening is recommended at age 30, and you are eligible to participate in this program.

Call now for details or to schedule an appointment:

• Brighton, Canton, Howell, Plymouth, Ypsilanti: 734-712-2335
• Chelsea: 734-593-5540
• Livonia: 734-655-1159

NOTE: Callback appointments for further images, 3D tomography, ultrasounds and biopsies are NOT included or covered by low-cost screening.

 

Be Present

One year after sharing his hopeful story, Kenn Sheats opens up about facing cancer recurrence

Sitting in a corner of Joe’s Java, Kenn Sheats sips on a latte. Sporting a baseball cap and button-down shirt, he’s trimmer than a year ago – a sign that his body has endured much change over the last 12 months, since the first time he publicly shared his cancer journey.

Kenn Sheats 05_RESIZED“I want today to be the best. Maybe tomorrow will be better, maybe it’ll be worse. We’ll deal with it tomorrow, you know?” he said. Something in his smile suggests this pearl of wisdom was learned the hard way.

Today, Kenn is on the other side of his battle with mantle cell lymphoma, which took him on many twists and turns. His calendar is now full of follow-up visits, regular lab work, meticulous medication tracking and a much-anticipated return to his job as a patient access training coordinator for Saint Joseph Mercy Health System. And, for all of it, he says, he is grateful. Continue reading “Be Present”

Leaders, Teachers, Healers

Meet Kathleen Beekman, MD, Medical Director of Infusion and Genetic Services, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System

Tell us a little about yourself:
I grew up in Michigan, one of five kids.  I went to medical school and did my residency at the University of Michigan and earned an Oncology Fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering.  I live with my husband, who is a hand surgeon, and our three children in an 1880s Victorian home that we restored.

How did you choose your specialty?
It came down to a combination of two things.  The first is that with oncology you have the chance to build relationships with your patients and the second is that oncology patients have a level of complexity that I find challenging.  Since my internship, I’ve always loved taking patient histories and hearing how they describe their symptoms.  Knowing how their symptoms connect to the latest knowledge of the disease and treatment is key to helping them.  There’s always something new to learn and ways to improve care and outcomes for patients. Continue reading “Leaders, Teachers, Healers”

Be Hopeful

John Huling returned to his favorite fishing hole after beating throat cancer

John Huling loves nature. When he’s not fixing cars at the auto repair shop, he’s either casting a line at the lake or tending to the vegetable garden at his Milan home.

John_Huling_01In 2016, John began experiencing severe ear pain and trouble swallowing. At first, John’s doctors didn’t find anything wrong. Seeking answers, he ended up at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor. A CAT-scan revealed a tumor pushing on a nerve on the inside of John’s throat leading to the constant pain he was feeling.

The cancer diagnosis hit him like a sudden tug on his fishing pole and cast his future in doubt. Within hours, however, the cancer team at St. Joe’s Cancer Center had mobilized and developed a treatment plan for John.

“They told me about the tumor around midnight on a Thursday. By Friday afternoon, I already had a biopsy and was preparing for a trach,” John said. “I was overwhelmed. I wasn’t expecting this and it all happened so fast”

“There were times I felt stressed. There were times I was afraid. I am very thankful to you for helping me through all of it. You listened. You cared. You all became like family to me.”

The trach, a surgically created hole in the front of the neck, provided relief from the mass impacting his airway. John met radiation oncologist Eva Bieniek, MD, and the rest of the St. Joe’s cancer team. He underwent weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, while relying on a feeding tube for nourishment.

Throughout his treatment, John took time off work as a mechanic but found solace tending to his vegetable garden. At first, John couldn’t speak and communicated through notes to his family and health care team.

“You and the entire team met with me to talk through my treatment plan, which addressed many of my questions and eased my fears,” John wrote in a letter to Dr. Bieniek. “There were times I felt stressed. There were times I was afraid. I am very thankful to you for helping me through all of it. You listened. You cared. You all became like family to me.”

This past summer, John returned to his favorite fishing hole and reflected on his cancer journey. The mist was thick in the cold morning air but the lake was pristine and calm. The sun was slowly starting to rise, like the new hope John had.

“I love to fish and that day was extra special. When I was diagnosed, I didn’t know if I’d have another summer to fish. But now, I’m cancer free. It’s been a life changing year but I have a new lease on life.”

For more information about cancer prevention and treatment programs at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, visit www.stjoeshealth.org/cancercare. To speak with a representative, please call 1-877-712-HOPE.

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Be Blessed

A routine self-exam leads to life-saving treatment for mother of two

Michelle Docherty found a lump in her breast during a self-exam. How could this be? Almost a year ago, Michelle’s mammogram was clear.

Things progressed quickly for the 47-year-old mother of two from Lake Orion.

Michelle called her OB/GYN on a Friday and saw her physician on Monday morning. A mammogram and biopsy occurred within days. On her kids’ first day of school, she got the call – breast cancer.

“My doctor told me it was curable,” Michelle recalled. “She said to remember that, even though I would be going through a lot of scary things. It was jarring to say the least. Right away I thought of both of my kids. I didn’t want to do anything that would distract them from school. I was also thinking of my husband. My life. I wanted to be here.”

“I just had an overall feeling that I was in fantastic hands.”

Michelle_Docherty_01The day after her diagnosis, Michelle and her husband met with Amy Kirby, MD, surgeon.  Michelle was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, stage 2.

“As we were going over my plan, it felt like an out-of-body experience,” recalled Michelle. “I remember thinking I know that she’s talking to me, it just didn’t feel like I was there. I remember at one point in the conversation she told me that the plan was to get me to 95 years old. Something else will take me, not this cancer. I said, ‘I like that. I’ll do whatever I have to do.’”

After that day, Michelle felt like she was living in the “land of appointments.” Thankfully, her husband was able to manage them for her. Her care was guided by Sarah Riaz, MD, an oncologist at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland. Michelle had 16 treatments of chemotherapy over a 20-week period, surgery, and finally six weeks of radiation treatments to burn out any remaining cancer cells.

Her new diagnosis: no remaining cancer.

“I just had an overall feeling that I was in fantastic hands,” Michelle said.

“My physicians, Dr. Riaz and Dr. Kirby, were warm and caring. These are very knowledgeable women and I knew I was in capable hands. I knew if I did everything they told me to do, I would be okay. They were very patient with me and answered all of my questions.

“They played such a crucial role in giving me my life back. I could tell I mattered to them.”

On Michelle’s last day of radiation treatment, her radiation therapist gave her a blue rubber bracelet with the encryption, strength.  Her son wears it every day.  He says it’s his most prized possession.

“Thank you doesn’t seem like enough,” Michelle said. “I almost see my breast cancer as an unexpected blessing. So many amazing people became a part of my life. My gratefulness far outweighs the bad experiences. Sometimes the road to getting better isn’t very pretty, but I’m going to be okay. It was important for my kids to see that sometimes life is really hard but you can always face it and get through it.”

Since Michelle’s treatments ended, she has started making more time for herself. She pays closer attention to her health and she believes she has a better outlook on life.

If you would like to learn more about St. Joseph Mercy Oakland’s cancer programs, call 1-877-712-HOPE or visit stjoeshealth.org/cancercare-breast.

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Schedule Your Mammogram

Be in tune with your body

Tanya McLeod credits God, family and St. Mary Mercy Livonia for courageous fight against colorectal cancer

Listen to your body. If something feels wrong, go to the doctor. These are the words 61-year-old Inkster resident Tanya McLeod lives by.

Tanya was feeling constipated, bloated and had stomach cramps. She felt pain near her tailbone when she walked. It wasn’t until she found blood in her stool that she knew this wasn’t merely the realities of getting older. She knew her body was telling her something so she made an appointment with her primary care physician.

During her exam, Tanya’s physician felt something abnormal and referred her for a colonoscopy. She received her diagnosis on June 24, 2015 – stage two colorectal cancer.

Accompanied by her husband, two children, mother, sister, and sister-in-law, Tanya met with radiation oncologist Samir Narayan, MD and his team at St. Mary Mercy Livonia. At this first meeting, they gained an honorary family member, she said.

“That day, we gained a family friend; more like I gained a brother. The whole staff is like my extended family.”

Tanya_McLeod_03“I was scared and feared the worst,” recalled Tanya. “All of that fear and uncertainty melted away when I met Dr. Narayan. I felt an immediate connection with him. With a smile that is so genuine it reaches his eyes, it’s hard not to feel comfortable with him.”

“That day, we gained a family friend; more like I gained a brother. The whole staff is like my extended family,” she continued.

Tanya underwent six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. It wasn’t easy. On the sixth week, she felt something was off but was so close to being done that she pushed it aside. But she couldn’t fool the radiation oncology staff.

“They knew when I came in that something wasn’t right just by how I was walking,” she said. “The office staff put me in a wheel chair and took me up to the Cancer Center. I was admitted and spent nine days in the hospital. I’m so thankful they were all so in tune with me and cared about my well-being.”

This minor setback didn’t get her down. After being released from the hospital, Tanya finished her treatments.

While in recovery, she faced a few more setbacks. Part of her colon and intestine were removed due to the side effects of the chemo and radiation. Through it all, she stayed positive and credits God, her family and the St. Mary Mercy staff for providing the help and support needed to overcome her diagnosis and become a survivor.

“As of Nov. 30, 2017, I am two years cancer free!” Tanya exclaimed. “I am so thankful I am still here. The Lord gave me a second chance at life.”

In a letter Tanya wrote to Dr. Narayan, she expressed her gratitude for him and his staff. She wrote:

I continue to thank God for each and every one of you. I am a new creature in Christ! I am courage! I am fearless! I am a survivor! I am remarkable!”

For more information about colorectal cancer prevention and treatment programs at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, visit stjoeshealth.org/cancercare-colon-rectal. To speak with a representative, please call 1-877-712-HOPE.

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