You Make Life Remarkable

Campaign honorary co-chairs Techy Rodriguez-Doyle and Patrick Doyle with Phil Stella, MD

On June 6, 2019, “Life is Remarkable” Campaign lead donors and volunteers celebrated and toured the renewed and re-opened Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Center with Health System leaders and hospital president Bill Manns.

“When we talk about the impact of your gifts for the Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Center, the real measurement is the lives you are saving, extending and making better. ‘Life is Remarkable’ is more than a campaign, it’s a belief we practice every day, because patients are fighting cancer every day,” said Bill Manns, President, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston.

India Manns; Judy Dow Rumelhart, Campaign Honorary Co-chair; Phil Stella, MD, Medical Director of Oncology; Bill Manns, President of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston; Sister Yvonne Gellise, SJMHS Senior Advisor for Governance

Each day, approximately 200 patients receive care at St. Joe’s transformed Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Center, re-opened December 2018 with thanks to 1,024 donors to St. Joe’s “Life is Remarkable” campaign.

“This project was built upon a legacy of support from donors who gave to the original cancer center more than 25 years ago, and have continued to serve as partners in our healing mission. We are grateful for the ongoing support, and to the generous community members, physicians and staff who are making an incredible impact today through their inspirational giving to the “Life is Remarkable” Campaign,” said David Ripple, SJMHS Vice President for Development.

“Making our gift was something special Teresa and I did together to recognize the compassion and expertise of her care team and help ensure personalized care for others. This is a reflection of how Teresa lived her life with gratitude, and I hope it inspires others.” – Andy Yu

Photograph: Adam Zimmer, Megan Yu, and Andy Yu on a tour with Susan Wyman, Regional Oncology Director, SJMHS (second from right)

Your support is still needed. Because every patient has a life that is remarkable.

To date, gifts for the Campaign have reached $9.5 million toward the $10 million philanthropy goal. And, the first two phases of our campaign are complete – renewing and re-opening our Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Center and transforming our services.

Additional gifts through December 2019 will help complete the campaign, supporting the Cancer Care Innovation Endowment and the future of cancer care for our patients.

To learn more or make your gift, please contact the Office of Development:

Katie Elliott, Director of Major and Planned Gifts, at 734-712-3919 or Katie.Elliott@stjoeshealth.org Karen Campbell, Gift Officer, at 734-712-2890

Karen Campbell, Gift Officer, at 734-712-2890 Karen.Campbell@stjoeshealth.org

Melissa Sheppard, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, at 734-712-4079 or Melissa.Sheppard@stjoeshealth.org

To make a gift online today, visit:
https://giving.stjoeshealth.org/ann-arbor

The Impact of Your Giving…Through the experience and courage of a patient

Sandy Lymburner

“Recently I came across the definition of the word Courage.  It is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty or pain.  You have to have courage just to walk through these doors and hear your diagnosis,” said Sandra Lymburner, 58-year-old Ann Arbor resident, of her experience facing breast cancer. “Cancer can make you feel overwhelmed and alone. But together with your cancer team here at St. Joe’s you find the courage.  There is strength in knowing you will receive the best cancer care possible.”

Sandy Lymburner with Philip J. Stella, MD, Medical Director of Oncology, SJMHS at the 2018 Blessing and Dedication of the renewed St. Joe’s Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Center.

While Sandy celebrates five years cancer-free this past September, her journey of braving a new treatment path will have an ongoing impact on others.  She’s quick to credit the cancer care and research team at St. Joe’s Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Center.

Weeks after being diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in the right breast and lobular cancer in the left, Sandy underwent a double mastectomy in September 2014. Her chemotherapy port was placed the next month, fully expecting it was the next course of treatment.

But on the day of Sandy’s first scheduled chemotherapy session, Dr. Philip Stella, medical director of oncology at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, suggested she might be able to bypass chemotherapy altogether.

“He came into the room with a big smile on his face,” Sandy described. Dr. Stella had sent in her breast tumor samples for molecular testing.  Sandy had some of the lowest cancer recurrence risk scores he had seen, making her a good candidate for the groundbreaking Trial Assigning Individualized Options for Treatment (Rx), or TAILORx trial.  Sandy received a score of 10 and 7 (on a scale of 100), and was randomly selected to receive hormone therapy alone.

Rather than receiving infusion chemo treatments, Sandy chose to participate in the clinical trial, which includes a treatment regimen of medications to block the production of hormones and reduce her risks of the breast cancer recurring.

She also followed her cancer team’s recommendations for radiation therapy – to tackle the microscopic cells.  But avoiding chemotherapy and its drastic side effects was a huge morale booster for Sandy, who began journaling and running every day.

In 2016, Sandy completed a half-marathon, and, in 2018, to mark four years of being cancer-free, she ran her third half-marathon in Chicago on Sept. 23.

At the Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Center Dedication and Blessing in December 2018, Sandy shared her experience with our community and donors as a speaker at the event, “The clinical trial allowed me to walk out of the cancer center that day without requiring chemo.  Every time I tell the story, I recall the moment I looked back at the chairs in the infusion clinic.  I was on the other side. I got to go home.  My good fortune was due to the outstanding staff in the Oncology and Research Departments at St. Joe’s and Dr. Stella. 

At that time I didn’t realize St. Joe’s is recognized as one of the nation’s best National Cancer Institute funded community research programs. They have 100 trials open to enrollment at any given time.  These studies offer investigational treatments for a wide variety of cancers, symptom management, and cancer prevention.” 

Sandy went on to explain, “The exceptional care I received at St. Joe’s has been incredible and is the main reason I decided to become an Experience Advisor.”  As such, Sandy was closely involved in the Cancer Center redesign and renovation project and found it enlightening and gratifying to have another unique opportunity to shape the care of those following a similar path.

Closing her remarks at the Dedication, Sandy shared these powerful words, “Society has labeled me a cancer survivor.  That term doesn’t really resonate with me.  I like to think of myself as a resilient fighter… Someone that didn’t know how strong she was until being strong was the only choice she had.  Thanks to my family and the staff at St. Joe’s we embraced the unknown together and I have celebrated almost five years of being cancer free.”

TAILORx trial shows no need for chemotherapy for most women with early breast cancer

The TAILORx trial, launched in 2006 and supported by the National Cancer Institute, analyzed breast tumors using the Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score and assigned a cancer recurrence risk score to each individual.  Based on those scores, the trial randomly assigned participants to hormone therapy alone, or a combination of hormone therapy and chemotherapy.

Forty St. Joe’s patients participated in the trial.

In June, the National Cancer Institute said new findings from the TAILORx trial show no benefit from chemotherapy for most women with early breast cancer. Researchers hope the new data will help inform treatment decisions for many women with early-stage breast cancer, especially for those deemed to have an intermediate risk of recurrence.

To learn more about St. Joe’s Cancer Care and National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program, visit: stjoesannarbor.org/cancer

To make a gift to St. Joe’s Ann Arbor “Life is Remarkable” Campaign
Cancer Care Innovation Endowment Fund today, visit: giving.stjoeshealth.org/ann-arbor

Or to learn more about how you can support this important effort, contact:
 Katie Elliott at
Katie.Elliott@stjoeshealth.org or 734-712-3919
Karen Campbell at
Karen.Campbell@stjoeshealth.org or 734-712-2890
Melissa Sheppard at
Melissa.Sheppard@stjoeshealth.org or 734-712-4079

(Source: “Gift of Health” Fall 2019)

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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