Posts tagged with Cancer

Zach has died

people.com photograph

people.com photograph by Lawrence Morgan

No one in Lawrence cared enough about Zach or the blog to even make one comment.

Now he has died.

http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/208137091.html?refer=y

Does it make any difference to anyone? It does to me, but apparently no one else even read the blog.

I wonder - do most people read the blogs in well commons?

Do most people really care about other people?

Reply 6 comments from Carolyn Crawford Thin_mint Kyle Chandler Lecomptoncitizen Alice Lieberman Marilyn Hull

Relay for Life begins planning for 2013

Relay for Life of Douglas County will have an informational meeting from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the auditorium in Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s lower level, 325 Maine.

The meeting will discuss the 2013 Relay for Life, which will be June 7-8 at the Free State High School track. The relays raise money for the American Cancer Society as well as local community services. For more information contact Barb Gorman at 785-841-7723 or douglascountyrfl@hotmail.com.

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Lawrence resident walking 26.2 miles Sunday in honor of brother, others affected by cancer

Despite the heat, Michael Travis, Lawrence, walks south on Wakarusa Drive, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012, in preparation for a 26.2-mile walk on Sunday from Topeka to Lawrence. He is bringing the annual Boston Marathon  Jimmy Fund Walk to Lawrence in honor of his brother, Mark, who is a cancer survivor, and the hundreds of thousands of others affected by cancer.

Despite the heat, Michael Travis, Lawrence, walks south on Wakarusa Drive, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012, in preparation for a 26.2-mile walk on Sunday from Topeka to Lawrence. He is bringing the annual Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk to Lawrence in honor of his brother, Mark, who is a cancer survivor, and the hundreds of thousands of others affected by cancer. by Mike Yoder

Lawrence resident Michael Travis plans to walk 26.2 miles Sunday from Topeka to Lawrence in honor of his brother, a cancer survivor, and for others who have been affected by the illness.

Travis, 51, is doing the walk simultaneously with the Jimmy Fund Walk in Boston, where thousands of participants walk along the Boston Marathon route to raise money for patient care and research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where his brother was treated.

Travis has participated in the Jimmy Fund Walk for the past two years, but he was unable to make it this year so he contacted the organizers and asked if he could have a walk in Kansas. So far, he has raised $2,160.

At 7 a.m. Sunday, he will start his trek at Payless Shoesource, where he works in Topeka, and will follow Highway 40 west to Lawrence, where he will wend his way through the Kansas University campus and north along Massachusetts Street, ending at Starbucks, where he frequently stops for coffee.

“I will be thinking of my brother and celebrating,” Travis said. “It will be a celebration of strength.”

His older brother, Mark Travis, 55, of Grantham, N.H., was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, in April 2010.

Mark said the illness “came out of nowhere.” He was walking on the beach and his knee started hurting, so he took pain medication and went to bed. The next morning, he passed out while taking a shower. He went to the doctor because he thought he had a bad reaction to the medicine. The doctor ordered a blood test and it showed Mark was anemic. After a few more tests, he was diagnosed with ALL, a fast-growing cancer of the white blood cells.

“In a matter of days, I went from thinking I was a middle-aged guy who twisted my knee to realizing sort of my life was on the line,” he said.

He needed a stem cell transplant, and Michael, one of his three siblings, was a perfect match. He had intense chemotherapy treatments that wiped out his immune system while his brother had injections of drugs to stimulate cell growth. On Sept. 17, 2010, he began receiving his brother’s life-saving cells intravenously and a nurse sang “Happy Birthday” to him.

“I marvel at the attitude he had. He was a fighter,” Michael said.

Last year, Mark walked five miles with Michael and other family members in the Jimmy Fund Walk after living about a year in isolation as he recovered from the transplant and regained an immune system.

“It was my coming-out party,” he said. “It felt good to raise money for the cancer center, and it felt really good to be with my family and poised to sort of begin a second life.”

Lawrence resident Michael Travis, back row, left, stands next to his brother Mark, before participating in the Jimmy Fund Walk in 2011 in Boston. The Travis family was celebrating Mark's recovery from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a progressive cancer of the white blood cells. Michael, who donated stem cells to Mark, is walking 26.2 miles Sunday from Topeka to Lawrence to honor his brother.

Lawrence resident Michael Travis, back row, left, stands next to his brother Mark, before participating in the Jimmy Fund Walk in 2011 in Boston. The Travis family was celebrating Mark's recovery from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a progressive cancer of the white blood cells. Michael, who donated stem cells to Mark, is walking 26.2 miles Sunday from Topeka to Lawrence to honor his brother.

Mark has returned to work as publisher of the Lebanon News and he has self-published his first novel, “Pliney Fiske,” a Civil War mystery. More importantly, he said, he has been spending time with his family — wife Brenda and their two children, ages 23 and 17. He’s also grown closer to his brother, Michael, and thinks it’s wonderful that he’s walking Sunday.

“I’m proud of him, and wish I could be there with him,” he said. “I sort of owe this second life to Michael for donating cells and to Dana Farber for the treatment I received.”

If you would like to support the cause, visit Michael’s personal web page at http://ljw.bz/RHgrxK.

Reply 2 comments from Karrey Britt Lawrence Morgan

Q&A: KU Cancer Center director discusses national designation, upcoming challenges

Roy Jensen, director of the Kansas University Cancer Center, middle, talks with Lawrence Noon Rotary Club president Scott Morgan, left, and Rotary board member Beverly Billings on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, before anmeeting at the Holiday Inn Lawrence. Jensen spoke about the center's recent National Cancer Institute designation and its plans for the future.

Roy Jensen, director of the Kansas University Cancer Center, middle, talks with Lawrence Noon Rotary Club president Scott Morgan, left, and Rotary board member Beverly Billings on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, before anmeeting at the Holiday Inn Lawrence. Jensen spoke about the center's recent National Cancer Institute designation and its plans for the future. by Nick Krug

Dr. Roy Jensen, director of Kansas University Cancer Center, said doctors are able to save the lives of about two-thirds of patients who are diagnosed with cancers, but for one out three, there is no treatment.

“We’ve got to have better drugs. We’ve got to have drugs that take new approaches against this disease,” Jensen said Tuesday during a Lawrence Noon Rotary Club meeting at the Holiday Inn Lawrence. “Our university is one of the leading centers across this nation for drug discovery and development and that has been and will continue to be a critical aspect of what we are as a cancer center.”

Jensen said while KU Cancer Center recently earned the coveted National Cancer Institute designation, its work is far from over. In four years, it plans to apply for NCI’s Comprehensive Care Center designation, which is the highest level given. To achieve such status, Jensen said the center will work closely with its 18 partners in the Midwest Cancer Alliance, including Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Oncology Center, to grow its research, education and outreach.

“It’s really demonstrating to the NCI that we’ve taken the cancer center and really want to get the benefits out into the community and move the needle in the right direction in terms of cancer incidence and mortality,” he said.

Jensen has been giving presentations across the state, including in Hays, Goodland, Pittsburg and Manhattan, during the past couple of weeks. Before his presentation Tuesday in Lawrence, he sat down for a one-on-one interview with the Lawrence Journal-World.

Here are excerpts from the 15-minute interview:

Q: What does NCI designation mean?

A: NCI-designated cancer centers are really the crucible from which all therapeutic advances of the last 40 years have sprung from, and it involves the application of basic science research to understanding cancer and then translating that information into new therapeutic advances.

Q: What is the Midwest Cancer Alliance that Lawrence Memorial Hospital recently became a part of?

A: It has really brought together cancer professionals from all across the state into what we refer to as a community of care in that it helps them understand all of the institutions throughout this entire area and what the different options are for patients as they start on their individual cancer journeys. It helps us really provide the infrastructure to ensure that every patient, no matter where they are or where they are treated, gets the best possible care and has access to cutting-edge clinical trials.

Q: What have been the keys to getting NCI designation?

A: We grew our cancer research funding over the last few years and now if you look at all of our sources, it’s over $50 million. It was about $26 million in 2004 when we started working toward NCI. Not only leveraging the School of Pharmacy and molecular biosciences at the Lawrence campus, but we also partnered with the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Mo., developed the Midwest Cancer Alliance and then there’s the incredible support that we’ve gotten across the region. That includes state government, the Kansas Bioscience Authority and Johnson County residents who passed a sales tax in support of the initiative. All of those things, I think, were critical to getting us to where we are today.

Q: Are there certain cancers that KU Center will focus on?

A: We are a Phase 1 program, and a Phase 1 program is primarily intended for patients that have exhausted all therapeutic approaches and they are looking for new drugs that may have an effect on their particular cancer. I think leveraging all of the expertise that we have around drug discovery and development makes it logical to focus in that area. We have a lot of other clinical strengths particularly breast cancer, bone marrow transplantation, prostate cancer, head and neck cancer that are extremely strong and I think we will be able to attract patients from all over.

Q: What are your thoughts on the Affordable Care Act?

A: It actually has a big effect on cancer patients. If you look at people who are diagnosed with cancer, particularly those who have health insurance at that time or don’t have health insurance at that time, those that don’t have health insurance have a 50 percent lower five-year survival rate. That’s a stunning difference. It points out the fact that you can not get comprehensive, coordinated cancer care in your local ER. So, I think being able to insure somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 million additional Americans absolutely will save lives particularly for the cancer patients.

Q: Do you have any advice for medical students thinking about specializing in oncology?

A: I think we are undergoing a huge revolution in not only how we treat cancer patients but how we think about cancer and how we develop new therapeutic approaches. We are set for one of the most exciting times in the history of medicine as far as I’m concerned. That’s the good side. The bad side is the discretionary funding of the federal budget is under greater pressure right now. So, there may not be funding to explore the knowledge and advance medicine.

Q: Why have you taken an interest in cancer? Have you been personally affected by cancer?

A: I have way too much motivation in this regard. I have folks who contact my office practically every week looking for help and direction.

Q: It seems like everybody knows someone with cancer. Why is it so prevalent?

A: There’s a lot of things that come into play. Demographically, our country is getting older, and older individuals are much more likely to get cancer. As we move towards 2030, it’s likely that we will see a doubling of cancer patients in this country. We have got to get the infrastructure in place to deal with this and we can’t just accept that fate. We’ve got to work towards making that better and turning the needle so that we decrease the number of cancer cases and we give hope to folks who wind up getting cancer.

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Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s new partnership with Midwest Cancer Alliance to increase access to clinical trials

Dr. Ronald Stephens, medical director of The Oncology Center at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, laughs with registered nurse Stephanie Norris on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011. LMH marked the 10-year anniversary of The Oncology Center with a celebration on Sept. 20, 2011.

Dr. Ronald Stephens, medical director of The Oncology Center at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, laughs with registered nurse Stephanie Norris on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011. LMH marked the 10-year anniversary of The Oncology Center with a celebration on Sept. 20, 2011. by Nick Krug

Lawrence Memorial Hospital announced Monday that it has become a member of the Midwest Cancer Alliance, which connects medical facilities and research organizations to Kansas University Cancer Center’s clinical trials, education programs and outreach efforts.

Sheryle D’Amico, vice president of LMH’s Physician Division, said one of the benefits of membership would be access to more clinical trials.

LMH’s Oncology Center already has access to more than 150 clinical trials through the Wichita Community Clinical Oncology Program, and it will continue to be part of this program.

In addition to new clinical trials, D’Amico said LMH oncology staff members will have new opportunities to take continuing education classes. They also will be able to offer their expertise.

“I think it’s going to be mutually beneficial,” she said.

D’Amico believes the partnership will increase awareness about research that’s conducted at LMH.

“We certainly have been very supportive of KU and its overall mission to get NCI designation and to the overall mission of the Midwest Cancer Alliance, which is taking really good care of cancer patients in our whole state. It’s good to be a part of that,” she said.

The Midwest Cancer Alliance was formed four years ago, and it has grown from four members in it inaugural year to 17. Besides LMH, members include the Kansas Bioscience Authority, Stormont Vail-HealthCare, St. Luke’s Health System and Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics. Last fall, Via Christi Hospital in Wichita also joined; it administers the Wichita Community Clinical Oncology program that LMH belongs to.

To become a member, LMH filled out an application and Midwest Cancer Alliance officials visited LMH’s Oncology Center in mid-May and helped determine which membership level would best suit the hospital. There are three membership levels: $25,000, $55,000 and $100,000 annually.

LMH decided to become a clinical research partner, which is a midlevel membership. The hospital has made a three-year commitment and will pay $30,000 annually. The rest of the money is being paid through a $5 million annual state appropriation to KU Cancer Center.

“Our goal is to make sure Kansans can access the latest advancements in cancer care close to home,” Gary Doolittle, medical director of the Midwest Cancer Alliance, said in a news release. “Lawrence Memorial Hospital shares this goal and we are excited to welcome them to the network.”

LMH’s Oncology Center serves about 600 new patients each year and administers about 18,000 treatments.

Cancer survivor and rural Lawrence resident Lorraine Rowe, left, shares a smile with Julie Tuley, a registered nurse and clinical director of the oncology unit at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. "I don't have to sit in your chair anymore," said Rowe to Tuley, who administered chemotherapy treatments to Rowe as she fought breast cancer. Rowe and her husband Stan, stopped by LMH to deliver cookies to members of the staff as she celebrated her five-year anniversary of being cancer free on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012.

Cancer survivor and rural Lawrence resident Lorraine Rowe, left, shares a smile with Julie Tuley, a registered nurse and clinical director of the oncology unit at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. "I don't have to sit in your chair anymore," said Rowe to Tuley, who administered chemotherapy treatments to Rowe as she fought breast cancer. Rowe and her husband Stan, stopped by LMH to deliver cookies to members of the staff as she celebrated her five-year anniversary of being cancer free on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. by Nick Krug

Reply 1 comment from Marilyn Hull

Tickets available for Friday luncheon benefiting Mario’s Closet at Lawrence Memorial Hospital

Former Kansas basketball player Mario Chalmers spoke Friday, July 22, 2011, during the grand opening celebration of Mario's Closet at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 325 Maine. Chalmers' foundation donated $25,000 to the LMH Endowment Association to help establish the specialty shop for cancer patients.

Former Kansas basketball player Mario Chalmers spoke Friday, July 22, 2011, during the grand opening celebration of Mario's Closet at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 325 Maine. Chalmers' foundation donated $25,000 to the LMH Endowment Association to help establish the specialty shop for cancer patients. by Kevin Anderson

Tickets are still available for a Friday luncheon to benefit Mario’s Closet, a specialty shop for cancer patients at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

The closet is named after former Kansas University basketball player Mario Chalmers who made a $25,000 donation through his foundation to establish the closet, which opened one year ago. The shop offers a variety of items including cosmetics, skin care products, wigs and prosthetics.

The luncheon will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, July 20, in The Hancock Room at The Oread, 1200 Oread Ave.

Among the speakers will be Carrie Rangel, a cancer survivor, and Lawrence doctors Michele Affield, Cheryl Rice and Sharon Soule, Chalmer’s mother Almarie Chalmers, and Cindy Self, wife of KU basketball coach Bill Self.

Tickets are $55 and can be purchased by at the LMH Endowment Association’s website at lmhendowment.org/events or by contacting Kathy Clausing-Willis at 505-6134 or kathy.clausing-willis@lmh.org.

Mario's Closet, a specialty shop for cancer patients, opened for business Friday, July 22, 2011, at Lawrence Memorial Hospital after a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The closet offers wig and salon services, mastectomy bras and prostheses, cosmetics, skin care products and more.

Mario's Closet, a specialty shop for cancer patients, opened for business Friday, July 22, 2011, at Lawrence Memorial Hospital after a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The closet offers wig and salon services, mastectomy bras and prostheses, cosmetics, skin care products and more. by Kevin Anderson

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Two Lawrence women team up to start Rock’N Bowl fundraiser to help cancer patients

Michelle Derusseau, a Livestrong leader for Douglas County, and Cindy Sargent, founder of the Catch a Break fund, have teamed up to organize a new bowling event "Rock'N Bowl: A Strike in the Fight Against Cancer" which is July 21. Half of the money will go to Livestrong and half will go to Catch a Break.

Michelle Derusseau, a Livestrong leader for Douglas County, and Cindy Sargent, founder of the Catch a Break fund, have teamed up to organize a new bowling event "Rock'N Bowl: A Strike in the Fight Against Cancer" which is July 21. Half of the money will go to Livestrong and half will go to Catch a Break. by John Young

Two Lawrence women have teamed up to organize a bowling event July 21 that will benefit the organizations they are passionate about: Livestrong and Catch a Break.

Both organizations help patients and their families in the fight against cancer.

Earlier this year, Michelle Derusseau, 48, became a Douglas County leader for The Lance Armstrong Foundation and its Livestrong campaign. As a leader, she helps educate the community about the free resources that the foundation provides and its mission.

“Livestrong fights to improve the lives of people affected by cancer and that’s not just the person who has been diagnosed but it’s everybody affected by that diagnosis,” she said.

Derusseau said the foundation provides a navigation center where anyone can call and ask about topics such as clinical trials, finances, employee rights and insurance. The foundation also offers a free 198-page guidebook, planner and journal. She said the foundation helped provided guidance for her families as they battled cancer.

Her aunt was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2011 and she died six weeks later. This year, her uncle was diagnosed with lung cancer and he died seven weeks later.

“Livestrong guided them through some stuff in a very short time and helped them make the best choices,” Derusseau said. “It helped them get their affairs in order in such a short time and it offered their kids a place to call and ask questions.”

Derusseau said her father is a prostate cancer survivor and her stepmother is a two-time breast cancer survivor. She’s also had too many friends battle the disease.

“Several of them fought for years and years and went through every painful treatment option until their bodies just wore out, and it’s just really hard to watch,” she said.

Derusseau participated in the Livestrong Challenge, a 5K race and 90-mile bicycle ride, last October and raised $2,500. But, she wanted to do more and came up with the idea of organizing her own fundraiser not only to raise money, but awareness.

She also decided that it would be better to have a partner. As she was doing her research, she came across an online website for Catch a Break, a Lawrence-based nonprofit that was founded by 49-year-old Cindy Sargent, a breast cancer survivor.

Sargent said it started in 2007 when she was contacted by a Kansas University fraternity housemother who was looking to help someone with cancer during the holidays. The housemother knew Sargent was a cancer survivor and belonged to a support group at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and thought she might have some connections. Sargent said she would be happy to help and sent an email to the approximately 20 people in her group.

“I thought I might get one person to respond, but six people did and so, ‘I’m thinking I want to help them all,’” she said.

So, she started calling friends, family and colleagues to adopt the other families during the holidays and they did. Then, it became an annual event and it grew each year.

Soon, she was helping 24 families and it was too much for her to manage on her own, so she met with the LMH Endowment Association which helped her set up a fund. Now, it helps cancer patients year around.

She calls it the Catch a Break because it’s meant to help cancer patients immediately with needs such a groceries, car repairs, medicine, or utility bills.

“Nobody gets a lot of money out of this,” she said. “It’s just enough to catch a break. It’s enough to help get something paid.”

So far, it has raised $25,000 through a fall letter campaign and word of mouth.

She won’t soon forget helping one man pay all of his utility bill before he died of cancer one month later. For the first time, his amount was zero and he would call the company every day just to hear that recording that said his balance was zero.

“It was during the winter and his bill was pretty stout as I recall, but it gave him great joy and helped his family through the holiday season,” she said. “That’s the kind of stuff that makes it worthwhile.”

When she was approached by Derusseau to start a fundraiser, she thought it was the perfect marriage.

Not only will the event help raise awareness about cancer and the work of both organizations, but more importantly, it will raise money to help those fighting cancer. Half of the money will go to Livestrong and half to Catch a Break.

“Cancer is a horrible thing to go through, but for me, a lot of good things came out of it,” Sargent said.


HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN ROCK’N BOWL

Lawrence’s first Rock’N Bowl: A Strike in the Fight Against Cancer fundraiser will be July 21 at Royal Crest Lanes, 933 Iowa St. There will be three times to choose from: noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The cost is $50 per person and includes three games of bowling, shoe rental, food and beverages. The cost is $25 for Kansas University students and Haskell Indian Nations University students and children ages 15 and younger.

There will be chances to win prizes and anyone who brings a nonperishable food item will receive a free spin on the prize wheel and a raffle ticket. The food will be donated to Douglas County’s food bank.

For more information or to register, visit lawrencerocknbowl.com. Forms also are available at Royal Crest Lanes.

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Lawrence oncologist Matthew Stein earns award from Rotary club

Dr. Matthew Stein

Dr. Matthew Stein

The Lawrence Rotary Club honored Dr. Matthew Stein with its 2012 Non-Rotarian Paul Harris Fellow Award on Monday at the Lawrence Holiday Inn.

The award recognizes individuals for their professional achievements and for having given service above self.

Rotary member Peter Curran said Stein received the coveted honor because of his dedication to providing medical services for those dealing with cancer in the Lawrence community.

Oncology services were not available in Lawrence until 1983, when Stein joined a private practice in Lawrence. His office-based oncology and hematology practice was the only one of its kind in the community for 13 years.

In 1996, Stein continued to see his patients, but couldn’t keep up with the growing demand for oncology services, so new patients had to see part-time oncologists from Kansas City, Topeka or elsewhere.

In 2001, Lawrence Memorial Hospital opened its Oncology Center and Stein joined the center. Today, he is one of five oncologists who works at the center that serves about 600 new patients and administers 18,000 treatments per year.

Stein is a fellow in the American College of Physicians and he has been published extensively in medical publications. He has served on numerous committees and boards for organizations, including LMH, Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association, Douglas County Community Corrections and Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center.

In addition to his medical work, he served as an adjunct professor in Humanities and Western Civilization at Kansas University for 20 years, and served one year as director of its Study Abroad program. For 14 years, he was a youth soccer coach and served on the Kaw Valley Soccer Board.

Curran said Stein is well known for his modesty and deflecting credit for his work. But LMH staff and his patients told stories about the self-sacrificing service that he provides.

“A small example of his nature is that one Christmas Day, he called the hospital receptionist on duty to thank her for just being there to accommodate patients,” Curran said. “Stein’s patients also give him rave reviews like, ‘Matt is a man who has dedicated his life to saving the lives of other and to making the end of life as comfortable as medically possible.”

Another said, “He is an oncological treasure and we are blessed that he calls Lawrence home.”

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Lawrence Memorial Hospital to pursue partnership with KU’s Midwest Cancer Alliance

Tammie Riccardo, 39, Lawrence, lies on a balance ball in an exercise designed to help stretch muscles around scar tissue left from a double mastectomy, during a therapy session in May 2011 with occupational therapist Dana White at Kreider Rehabilitation Services South, 3510 Clinton Place. Riccardo, who is now cancer-free, was a participant in a clinical trial at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which involved an intense chemotherapy treatment.

Tammie Riccardo, 39, Lawrence, lies on a balance ball in an exercise designed to help stretch muscles around scar tissue left from a double mastectomy, during a therapy session in May 2011 with occupational therapist Dana White at Kreider Rehabilitation Services South, 3510 Clinton Place. Riccardo, who is now cancer-free, was a participant in a clinical trial at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which involved an intense chemotherapy treatment. by Nick Krug

Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Board of Trustees decided Wednesday to pursue becoming a member of the Midwest Cancer Alliance, which connects medical facilities and research organizations to KU Cancer Center’s clinical trials, education programs and outreach efforts.

Sheryle D’Amico, vice president of LMH’s Physician Division, said one of the potential benefits of membership would be access to new clinical trials.

“KU Cancer Center continues to add research folks who are doing trials,” she said. “The hope is that there will be an expansion of the clinical trials that are available through the Midwest Cancer Alliance. It would be an enhancement to what we already have.”

LMH’s Oncology Center already has access to more than 150 clinical trials through the Wichita Community Clinical Oncology program. The trials are funded by the National Cancer Institute.

In addition to new clinical trials, D’Amico believes partnering with the Midwest Cancer Alliance will increase awareness about the research that’s conducted at LMH. She said the staff has expertise that it may be able to offer other hospitals across the state.

Since the Midwest Cancer Alliance was formed four years ago, LMH leaders have re-evaluated whether to join, or not, every six months. Until now, they didn’t believe there would be a benefit to patients. They also couldn’t see the benefits of paying the price tag — $25,000, $55,000 or $100,000 annually, depending on membership level.

Now, they do.

The Midwest Cancer Alliance has grown from four members in its inaugural year to 15, and they include the Kansas Bioscience Authority, Stormont Vail-HealthCare, St. Luke’s Health System and Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics. This fall, Via Christi Hospital in Wichita also joined; it administers the Wichita Community Clinical Oncology program that LMH belongs to.

“Following the decision of Via Christi-Wichita, we believe the timing is right,” D’Amico said. “We figured if they joined, then maybe we should too.”

To become a member, MCA officials will visit LMH’s Oncology Center and then help determine which membership level best suits the hospital. LMH expects to become a clinical research partner, which is a mid-level membership and would cost $55,000 annually. LMH also will have to fill out an application.

Dr. Gary Doolittle, medical director for MCA, said the membership process could take two months or six months, depending on the needs of the site. He said MCA can offer a variety of services such as a patient navigator, psychologist, education courses and even cancer screening events.

“The alliance really is about providing excellent cancer care to people in our region, and a network like this, I think, is really important for the region and encourages a level of collaboration that has not existed before,” he said. “We really are trying to raise the bar for cancer care on all levels — here at KU and with our partners.”

Doolittle said MCA hopes to add two or three new sites per year.

D’Amico said LMH has always supported KU Cancer Center’s efforts to receive a National Cancer Institute designation. She believes the MCA membership will help raise awareness of that support.

LMH’s Oncology Center serves about 600 new patients each year and administers about 18,000 treatments.

Doris Sullivant, Lawrence, awaits a brief program during a community celebration Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011, that marked the 10th anniversary of Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Oncology Center. She was among the first cancer patients treated at LMH in 2000.

Doris Sullivant, Lawrence, awaits a brief program during a community celebration Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011, that marked the 10th anniversary of Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Oncology Center. She was among the first cancer patients treated at LMH in 2000. by Karrey Britt

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Cancer survivor celebrates five-year mark by delivering cookies, hope

Rowe kneels down to visit with patient Gordon Schulenberg, Lawrence, in the waiting area of the oncology unit to give him a cookie and words of encouragement.

Rowe kneels down to visit with patient Gordon Schulenberg, Lawrence, in the waiting area of the oncology unit to give him a cookie and words of encouragement. by Nick Krug

On Tuesday, Lorraine Rowe was decked out in a pink blazer and scarf as she handed out pink and white frosted sugar cookies in Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Oncology Center.

The 61-year-old Lawrence resident was celebrating the fifth anniversary of her last chemotherapy treatment there for breast cancer.

“If I can reassure somebody or help somebody, I will just do anything I can,” she said. “There’s no doubt; cancer changes your life but ultimately it can make your life richer and fuller because you live more meaningfully.”

Rowe was diagnosed with cancer in her left breast on Aug. 25, 2006, and she had a lumpectomy. The doctors removed some lymph nodes around the tumor, and two of them were positive for cancer, so she decided to have a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery one month later.

“At that point, I decided that I would rather make the whole thing go away,” she said. “I wanted it gone.”

Rowe had lost her father to colorectal cancer in 1982, and her husband, Bill Givens, of 30 years, to liver cancer in 1999.

After surgery, Rowe received chemotherapy treatments and she participated in a clinical study where she received more drugs in less time.

“I felt like I tolerated it amazingly well. The most difficult part was probably just the fatigue,” she said.

She and her second husband, Stan Rowe, had just celebrated their first wedding anniversary when she received the cancer diagnosis. When her hair started falling out from chemotherapy, she had Stan shave her head, and when he was done he asked her to shave his head, and then they shaved Frannie’s — their terrier’s — head, too. Afterward, they called up their wedding photographer and asked her to take pictures of them wearing pink for breast cancer awareness.

“We were celebrating life with cancer,” Lorraine said.

A collage of images shows Lorraine Rowe with her husband, Stan, and their dog Frannie, after they had their heads shaven.

A collage of images shows Lorraine Rowe with her husband, Stan, and their dog Frannie, after they had their heads shaven. by Nick Krug

Now, they are celebrating life without cancer by providing hope and words of encouragement for others.

David Owen and his wife, Ellyn, of Baldwin City, were sitting in the waiting room of the oncology center when Lorraine approached them with a basket of cookies shaped like party hats, whistles and the numeral five.

The gesture brought a smile to David’s face and he congratulated Lorraine on her milestone.

“Very sweet,” he said, before receiving chemotherapy treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Lorraine reassured him that LMH was a good place for treatment. “You are in good hands,” she said.

She also handed out cookies to the doctors, nurses and staff in the oncology center and at Lawrence Plastic Surgery, where Dr. John Keller works. He did her reconstructive surgery.

“I want them to know that I am still celebrating. That I am not only a survivor but I am a thriver, and what a difference the compassion and understanding that they showed us made in my recovery,” she said.

Cancer survivor and rural Lawrence resident Lorraine Rowe, left, shares a smile with Julie Tuley, a registered nurse and clinical director of the oncology unit at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. "I don't have to sit in your chair anymore," said Rowe to Tuley, who administered chemotherapy treatments to Rowe as she fought breast cancer. Rowe and her husband Stan, stopped by LMH to deliver cookies to members of the staff as she celebrated her five-year anniversary of being cancer free on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012.

Cancer survivor and rural Lawrence resident Lorraine Rowe, left, shares a smile with Julie Tuley, a registered nurse and clinical director of the oncology unit at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. "I don't have to sit in your chair anymore," said Rowe to Tuley, who administered chemotherapy treatments to Rowe as she fought breast cancer. Rowe and her husband Stan, stopped by LMH to deliver cookies to members of the staff as she celebrated her five-year anniversary of being cancer free on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. by Nick Krug

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Longtime Lawrence doctor returns to practice after bone marrow transplant

He’s back.

Longtime Lawrence doctor Rod Barnes has returned to practicing family medicine after taking two years off to fight leukemia and undergo a bone marrow transplant.

“It feels so good to be back,” he said during an interview Monday in his office at Lawrence Family Medicine & Obstetrics in west Lawrence. “I’ve been taking more than I’ve been giving. It feels so good to be kind of on the other side of that now.”

On Feb. 16, 2010, Barnes stepped away from his practice to battle chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. He had been fighting the disease for five years and this was the third recurrence. This time, doctors at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston recommended a bone marrow transplant.

After undergoing several months of grueling chemotherapy treatments, he was in remission and ready for the transplant.

Barnes said they found two perfect matches through the National Marrow Donor Program’s Be The Match registry, and his donor was a 46-year-old female; that’s all he knows for now. He hopes someday to be able to thank her.

Turn for worse

Barnes had the transplant on July 15, 2010, which he calls his second birthday. He described the transplant as pretty uneventful; he said it was like getting intravenous therapy. The goal was for the donor’s stem cells to take over his bone marrow and replace his bad cells.

Barnes said he responded so well that within three weeks, he was able to move into an apartment in Houston and visit the ambulatory care center daily. Then, he began having a shortness of breath which escalated into respiratory failure. He ended up in the intensive care unit at the hospital and he didn’t think he would make it out.

“Things were looking pretty grim at that point,” he said.

A month later, he left the hospital and moved back to the apartment. He had checked into the hospital weighing 194 pounds before the transplant and he left weighing 158 pounds. He was barely able to step onto the bus to get to his apartment and he was using a walker.

“I didn’t think I would ever do anything again — physically,” he said. “It was appalling. I was just skin and bones with no muscle tone.”

Road to recovery

Three months after the transplant, he returned to his rural Lawrence home and continued to slowly gain strength.

He said the support from family, friends, colleagues and patients helped in his recovery. Not only did they turn out in droves for a bone marrow registry drive at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, but they filled his CaringBridge website with well wishes.

“I’ve received so much support through all of this and I am so grateful. People have been so kind to me,” he said. “It’s been overwhelming.”

Barnes visits MD Anderson every six months and he sees Dr. Sherri Soule at LMH’s Oncology Center about every six weeks. He said his feet are numb, he has a rash on his chest and he can’t smell or taste very well, and then added: “They are just nothing things.”

“I feel every day is a gift,” he said. “I shouldn’t be here really. To be here working again is a blessing.”

Dr. Rod Barnes laughs with his patient, Jim Lewis, Lawrence, as the two discuss Barnes's return to work, during an exam on Monday, Jan. 30, 2012, at Lawrence Family Medicine and Obstetrics, 1220 Biltmore Drive. Barnes returned to his practice last week after being away nearly two years while undergoing and recovering from chemotherapy and a successful bone marrow transplant for treating leukemia.

Dr. Rod Barnes laughs with his patient, Jim Lewis, Lawrence, as the two discuss Barnes's return to work, during an exam on Monday, Jan. 30, 2012, at Lawrence Family Medicine and Obstetrics, 1220 Biltmore Drive. Barnes returned to his practice last week after being away nearly two years while undergoing and recovering from chemotherapy and a successful bone marrow transplant for treating leukemia. by Nick Krug

He’s easing back into work per his wife’s and doctor’s orders.

Last week, he worked until noon, seeing about five patients per day. This week, he’s working until about 3 p.m. and seeing between seven and 10 patients. He can’t see patients who have acute illness — a fever, cold or cough — because of his weakened immune system, so they are referred to his partners. He is able to do wellness exams and take care of injuries and chronic illnesses. He does believe his personal experience has given him new insight.

“Now, I think I have something to offer in addition to what I had before because of what I’ve been through,” he said. “I think we all have a tendency to lose perspective and I think this has given me new perspective.”

At age 62 and after 34 years of practicing medicine, a lot of people have asked Barnes: Why not retire? His reply is two-fold. First, he wants to retire on his own terms. Second, he loves his job.

“I really missed being part of people’s lives,” he said. “I get so much out of this. This truly is from the heart, I get more out of this than I give.”

Dr. Rod Barnes stops by the desk of Joni Lawrence, a registered nurse who has worked with Barnes since 1980. Barnes credits Lawrence for keeping his practice together during his absence.

Dr. Rod Barnes stops by the desk of Joni Lawrence, a registered nurse who has worked with Barnes since 1980. Barnes credits Lawrence for keeping his practice together during his absence. by Nick Krug

Lawrence Family Medicine and Obstetrics employee Trisha Tyree wears a T-shirt in support of Dr. Rod Barnes during work on Monday.

Lawrence Family Medicine and Obstetrics employee Trisha Tyree wears a T-shirt in support of Dr. Rod Barnes during work on Monday. by Nick Krug

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Lawrence resident puts new heart healthy habits to use by fighting another disease — cancer

Michelle Derusseau, Lawrence, and her mother Sue Lavery, Lenexa, attend the Go Red For Women luncheon, Friday, Feb. 11, 2011, at The Oread Hotel. Derusseau, 47, was the passion speaker during the event. She suffered a heart attack at age 39 in April 2003.

Michelle Derusseau, Lawrence, and her mother Sue Lavery, Lenexa, attend the Go Red For Women luncheon, Friday, Feb. 11, 2011, at The Oread Hotel. Derusseau, 47, was the passion speaker during the event. She suffered a heart attack at age 39 in April 2003. by Karrey Britt

Michelle Derusseau is a crusader.

Last February, she shared her personal experience of surviving a heart attack at age 39 with about 200 people attending the annual Go Red for Women luncheon in Lawrence.

She talked about how she ignored the early warning signs — fatigue, sweating, nausea — and didn’t seek help until she lost feeling in her left arm and it became an emergency. She was flown by helicopter ambulance from Lawrence Memorial Hospital to St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City where two stents were implanted into her heart.

Since then, she’s changed her habits and never felt better. She gets more sleep, has become an exercise fanatic, and has cut fast food from her diet.

Derusseau, 48, has put her new heart healthy habits to use by becoming a champion for another cause — cancer.

“For the past 30 years, I’ve watched friends and family have cancer,” she said. “Many of them died after going through painful surgeries and procedures, and you just kind of stand by helplessly.”

About one year ago, a close aunt was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and six weeks later, she died.

Derusseau said her dad is a prostate cancer survivor and is currently undergoing treatment for skin cancer, and her stepmother is a two-time breast cancer survivor.

“The list just kind of goes on and on and on. It’s hard to find anyone anymore that doesn’t know somebody who has cancer,” she said.

Derusseau said she got tired of just standing by and decided to help raise money for the The Lance Armstrong Foundation, which helps anyone affected by cancer. It provides free resources and programs, and raises money for research.

In October, she participated in the foundation’s Livestrong Challenge, which was a 5K race and 90-mile bicycle ride in Austin. She raised $2,500 and got to tour the foundation’s headquarters.

“It was a very neat and inspiring weekend,” she said.

Derusseau decided to apply to become a Livestrong leader for Douglas County and she recently was accepted. As a leader, she will help educate residents about The Lance Armstrong Foundation and its Livestrong campaign.

“There’s a lot of people who have heard of Livestrong, but they don’t really understand what it is and what they do.”

She said the foundation’s goal is to not only improve the lives of people who have cancer, but everybody who is affected by the diagnosis including spouses, siblings and parents.

“It empowers people and it tries to show them that they have cancer but cancer doesn’t have them,” she said.

For more information about how to get involved or how to receive help, contact Derusseau at mickydlivestrong@gmail.com, visit livestrong.org or call 855-220-7777.

Michelle Derusseau participated in a 90-mile bicycle ride that was part of the Livestrong Challenge in October in Austin. The event helped raise money for The Lance Armstrong Foundation and its fight to improve the lives of people affected by cancer. She recently was named a Livestrong leader for Douglas County.

Michelle Derusseau participated in a 90-mile bicycle ride that was part of the Livestrong Challenge in October in Austin. The event helped raise money for The Lance Armstrong Foundation and its fight to improve the lives of people affected by cancer. She recently was named a Livestrong leader for Douglas County.

Lawrence resident Michelle Derusseau participated in The Lance Armstrong Foundation's Livestrong Challenge in October in Austin. The challenge included a 5K race and 90-mile bicycle ride. During the challenge, she wore a sign on her back containing the names of cancer survivors or those who had lost their battle. She said, "As you can see, there are many reasons why I live strong."

Lawrence resident Michelle Derusseau participated in The Lance Armstrong Foundation's Livestrong Challenge in October in Austin. The challenge included a 5K race and 90-mile bicycle ride. During the challenge, she wore a sign on her back containing the names of cancer survivors or those who had lost their battle. She said, "As you can see, there are many reasons why I live strong."

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Relay For Life of Douglas County kicks off Tuesday with sign-up event

Cancer survivors gather at the south end of the Free State High School track in preparation for the “Survivor Lap” at the Relay For Life event on Friday. The survivors take the first lap around the track to kick off the all-night relay.

Cancer survivors gather at the south end of the Free State High School track in preparation for the “Survivor Lap” at the Relay For Life event on Friday. The survivors take the first lap around the track to kick off the all-night relay.

The annual Relay For Life of Douglas County will kick off Tuesday with a sign-up party from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Free State High School’s library, 4700 Overland Drive.

Relay For Life is an annual activity-filled, overnight event that draws hundreds of participants and raises awareness about cancer and money for the American Cancer Society.

This year’s event will be from 7 p.m. June 8 to 7 a.m. June 9 at Free State High School’s track. The track will be lined with luminaries that honor cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost and to support those fighting the disease.

The relay involves teams of participants — usually eight to 15 — who raise money between the kickoff party and the event. At the event, team members typically take turns walking around the track and camp out while activities go on throughout the night. Last year, 63 teams participated and raised $162,000.

Barb Gorman, co-chairwoman of the event, said they are kicking off the event a month earlier this year to allow more time to organize teams and raise funds. The goal is for each participant to raise at least $100.

“We want to build more teams, bring in more money and have more fun,” she said.

Gorman began participating in Relay For Life five years ago when her mother was diagnosed with leukemia. She died seven months later. In 2009, Gorman received a breast cancer diagnosis. Gorman said the cancer was detected early; she had surgery and radiation treatments.

“So far, everything is good,” she said.

Barbara Gorman, a breast cancer survivor, became co-chairman of Relay For Life of Douglas County in 2011 and the theme was "Hats Off To A Cure." She is co-chair again this year.

Barbara Gorman, a breast cancer survivor, became co-chairman of Relay For Life of Douglas County in 2011 and the theme was "Hats Off To A Cure." She is co-chair again this year.

One of the highlights at the Relay For Life event is when cancer survivors take the first lap on the track. For several years, Gorman was among those who cheered them on. Now she walks with them.

“The first time, I was still kind of numb about the whole thing because I was still in radiation. I was there but mentally I was struggling,” she said. “Last year was better. I felt like a real survivor.”

To join the cause or to learn more, attend the kickoff event. If you can’t make the event, contact Barb Gorman at 841-7723, Shelle Arnold at 841-8336 or visit relayforlife.org/douglasks.

Jessie Lanzrath, left, and Baylee Parsons, from Topeka, light luminarias during the Relay For Life event. The luminarias honor people who have fought cancer.

Jessie Lanzrath, left, and Baylee Parsons, from Topeka, light luminarias during the Relay For Life event. The luminarias honor people who have fought cancer.

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Kansas City parents thank area blood donors for helping to save son’s life

Kansas City, Mo. — Thomas and Angela Charles had the rare opportunity Tuesday to thank eight people who helped save their 4-year-old son’s life by donating blood.

As Thomas stood before the donors at a podium inside the Community Blood Center during a media event, he fought back tears and tried to keep his composure as he expressed his gratitude and talked about his son’s 14-month battle with neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer that develops from nerve tissue. His tumor formed in the adrenal gland.

“We don’t like to talk about statistics. In fact, we hate it, and we were told that the odds were not on our side,” Thomas said. “We were told Joseph’s was an aggressive, mean cancer and that it would require an even more aggressive treatment protocol.”

Joseph endured high doses of chemotherapy, surgery to remove the tumor, a stem-cell transplant, radiation and six months of immunotherapy. He also lost his right kidney. He spent 121 days in the hospital and received 14 red-blood transfusions and nine platelet transfusions.

Thomas estimated that his family had made more than 230 trips by the Community Blood Center at 4040 Main St. on their way to and from Joseph’s treatments and their Kansas City, Mo., home. “There was a time in our lives when this building was just another building on the route down Main Street, and now we understand that it is so much more,” he said.

Thomas Charles, of Kansas City, Mo., pauses to compose himself while he was thanking donors who had given blood that helped treat his 4-year-old son Joseph, right.  At  left, is Joseph's twin brother Patrick.

Thomas Charles, of Kansas City, Mo., pauses to compose himself while he was thanking donors who had given blood that helped treat his 4-year-old son Joseph, right. At left, is Joseph's twin brother Patrick. by Kevin Anderson

The Community Blood Center serves 70 hospitals in northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri, including Lawrence Memorial Hospital and Children’s Mercy Hospital, and it must collect at least 580 pints of blood every day to meet the region’s needs.

“Never in a million years when we were signing the consent form for that first blood transfusion did I think we would be able to thank the people who donated blood to Joseph, and so we are honored and privileged to do that today,” Thomas said, struggling to speak the words. “From the bottom of our hearts, we would like to say thank you.”

One by one, the donors came forward and received a hug or handshake from each parent, a handshake from Joseph’s twin brother, Patrick, and a smile from Joseph, who is now in remission.

Among them was Basehor resident David Mellott, 43, a police officer at Fort Leavenworth, who has regularly donated blood for 20 years. He gave Joseph a toy police car and a pat on the head.

“Even after all of these years, I still don’t like the initial stick, but I know it’s going to help someone,” he said. “I just wish more people would donate.”

David Mellott, Basehor, was one of eight blood donors visited the Community Blood Center on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2011, to meet 4-year-old Joseph Charles. Joseph received some of Mellott's blood during his battle with cancer.

David Mellott, Basehor, was one of eight blood donors visited the Community Blood Center on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2011, to meet 4-year-old Joseph Charles. Joseph received some of Mellott's blood during his battle with cancer. by Kevin Anderson

Joseph Charles, 4, plays with a toy police car that was given to him by David Mellott, one of his blood donors.

Joseph Charles, 4, plays with a toy police car that was given to him by David Mellott, one of his blood donors. by Kevin Anderson

The other donors expressed the same sentiments.

Stuart Meurer, 28, just moved to Kansas City from Texas three years ago and donates blood when the center has a drive at his church. He felt a special bond with Joseph because he is a twin, too.

“I understand the bond that twins can have, so I hope he does well in the future not only for him but for his brother and his family,” Meurer said.

And for John Naylor, of Overland Park, the meeting was an early birthday gift; he turns 49 this week. Naylor has been donating blood since he was a high school student, and now four of his five children donate blood as well. He said his youngest child likely will donate once he turns 16, the minimum age to donate.

“When you donate blood, you think that it going to help somebody and you hope it is, but here today to see that young boy who was so sick and now looks better is really a neat thing,” he said with a smile. “The needle hurts just a little bit but you are doing so much good for somebody else to do that. It’s not much of a sacrifice.”

Thomas Charles kisses his son Joseph after a press conference at the Community Blood Center in Kansas City.  Joseph Charles, 4, got a chance to meet some of the people Tuesday that had donated blood to help him battle Neuroblastoma.

Thomas Charles kisses his son Joseph after a press conference at the Community Blood Center in Kansas City. Joseph Charles, 4, got a chance to meet some of the people Tuesday that had donated blood to help him battle Neuroblastoma. by Kevin Anderson


HOW TO HELP

January is National Blood Donor Month because donations decrease this time of year because of the holidays, weather and illnesses. The Kansas City, Mo.-based Community Blood Center is no exception.

David Graham, vice president of donor and hospital services, said they’ve experienced about a 40 percent drop in donations, yet, unfortunately, the demand remains the same.

The center supplies blood to 70 area hospitals, including Lawrence Memorial Hospital. One donation, which is about a pint, can help two hospital patients. The center must collect at least 580 pints of blood every day to meet the region’s needs.

The American Red Cross, which supplies blood to nearly 3,000 hospitals nationwide, also needs donations. The Central Plains Blood Services Region supplies blood to most Kansas hospitals and northern Oklahoma.

There are several blood drives scheduled in Lawrence. The Community Blood Center’s are:

• Jan. 17 — 9 a.m.-noon, Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Mass.

• Feb. 3 — 2 p.m.-4:30 p.m., Lawrence School District parking lot, 110 McDonald Drive.

• Feb. 13 — 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Lawrence Board of Realtors parking lot, 3838 W. Sixth St.

• Feb. 23 — 2 p.m.-5:30 p.m., Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.

The American Red Cross is having a drive:

• Tuesday, Jan. 10 — noon-6 p.m., Immanuel Lutheran Church, 2104 Bob Billings Parkway.

To schedule an appointment or for more information, contact:

• American Red Cross — 800-733-2767 or redcrossblood.org.

• Community Blood Center — 888-647-4040 or savealifenow.org.

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Breast cancer patient’s dying wish to upgrade Lawrence oncology center coming true

Lawrence businessman Miles Schnaer tries out one of two infusion chairs to see which one is most comfortable in the waiting room of the Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Oncology Center, while friends Aimee Jackson, left, and Kelli Alldredge await to hear the results. The trio are board members of Jamie's Wish Foundation, which was created in memory of Jamie Pursley, who died last March from cancer. Her dying wish was to upgrade the 15 infusion rooms at LMH and these three helped make her dream come true. They've raised the $100,000 needed, and one of the infusion chairs will replace the old ones. They are having staff, patients and visitors vote on their favorite, so far the one on the left is winning.

Lawrence businessman Miles Schnaer tries out one of two infusion chairs to see which one is most comfortable in the waiting room of the Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Oncology Center, while friends Aimee Jackson, left, and Kelli Alldredge await to hear the results. The trio are board members of Jamie's Wish Foundation, which was created in memory of Jamie Pursley, who died last March from cancer. Her dying wish was to upgrade the 15 infusion rooms at LMH and these three helped make her dream come true. They've raised the $100,000 needed, and one of the infusion chairs will replace the old ones. They are having staff, patients and visitors vote on their favorite, so far the one on the left is winning. by Kevin Anderson

Jamie Pursley’s wish is coming true.

Three weeks before she died of breast cancer on March 29, the 35-year-old Lawrence resident looked her closest friends in the eyes and told them that she wanted to renovate the infusion rooms at Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Oncology Center where she had spent countless hours receiving treatment.

She wanted all 15 rooms to have a peaceful, spa-like feel with comfortable chairs and other amenities, especially for the guests.

“She was just always thinking of other people and her big thing was to really get new guest side seats for the friends and family who would come to visit, which was unbelievable that she was thinking of others while she was facing the last few weeks of life,” said Aimee Jackson, one of Jamie’s close friends and a sorority sister at Kansas State University.

On Aug. 14, Jackson and Kelli Alldredge, another one of Jamie’s friends, launched a fundraiser and Jamie’s Wish Foundation. Their goal was to raise the $100,000 needed to make Jamie’s wish come true. They figured it would take about a year, especially in a difficult economy.

But not Lawrence businessman Miles Schnaer, who gave Jamie’s Wish Foundation its first donation and helped in any way he could. He said they had a specific goal and they were passionate about reaching it.

“These girls just engulfed everybody that they came in contact with to be able to do something,” he said. “It was $5 here and a couple of bucks stuffed in a can at a game there.”

They did some major fundraising at the Kansas State University and Kansas University football game Oct. 22 because Jamie, who was originally from Topeka, was a diehard K-State fan who had fallen in love with the Lawrence community. She, her husband Aaron, and their young daughter Kayden, moved to Lawrence in February 2010 from Kentucky to be closer to home. Jamie had been battling cancer for about four years and it had metastasized to her bones.

“She never complained and I felt like she really never had a bad day,” Jackson said. “I think she internalized it, but never said ‘Why me?’ and dealt with the cards that she was given.”

Once KU and K-State fans heard about the cause, they put their rivalry aside and came out in full support. Former KU wide receiver Harrison Hill and former K-State quarterback Jonathan Beasley became heavily involved in the project. Then, a national sports TV station aired Jamie’s story and people took to the cause like wildfire.

Jackson said they received small and big donations and even letters from people across the country and around the world, including Italy, Russia and London.

“It’s just been an overwhelming response of amazing people,” she said.

So far, they’ve raised $116,000 and exceeded their expectations. The extra money is going to allow them to be able to upgrade countertops and flooring which wasn’t in the original plan. If they raise more, they would like to get iPads or iPods and docking stations for every room so patients and families have something to help bide their time. Currently, there is one laptop computer for the entire center.

The LMH Oncology Center serves about 600 new patients each year and administers about 18,000 treatments. Those treatments can be up to eight hours long.

Dr. Sherri Soule, who was Jamie’s oncologist, said she was a joy to be around and there often was laughter coming from her room. Thanks to Jamie, she said, her patients and their guests are going to have some of the best infusion rooms in the country.

“It has just been wonderful and really touching,” she said.

On Friday, Alldredge, Jackson, Schnaer and a couple of other friends visited LMH’s oncology center to try out two infusion chairs they are thinking of ordering. The chairs are in the waiting room where staff, visitors and patients can try them out as well and vote on their favorite.

Their hope is to have the renovation work done and a ribbon-cutting ceremony near the first anniversary of their friend’s death.

“I think she would just be so thrilled and so happy, and I just love that she was the catalyst for this idea,” Jackson said.

Kelli Alldredge, left, Overland Park, and Aimee Jackson, Prairie Village, launched a fundraiser to renovate the infusion rooms in the Oncology Center at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. They are doing this to honor the wish of their close friend Jamie Pursley who died March 29 after a five-year battle with breast cancer. On Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, they talked about Jamie's wish inside one of the 15 infusion rooms that will receive an upgrade during the coming months. The upgrade will include a new infusion chair, two new guest chairs, fresh paint, new cabinets, a 22-inch flat screen TV and DVD player.

Kelli Alldredge, left, Overland Park, and Aimee Jackson, Prairie Village, launched a fundraiser to renovate the infusion rooms in the Oncology Center at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. They are doing this to honor the wish of their close friend Jamie Pursley who died March 29 after a five-year battle with breast cancer. On Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, they talked about Jamie's wish inside one of the 15 infusion rooms that will receive an upgrade during the coming months. The upgrade will include a new infusion chair, two new guest chairs, fresh paint, new cabinets, a 22-inch flat screen TV and DVD player. by Kevin Anderson


HOW TO HELP

Jamie Pursley’s dying wish was to renovate all 15 infusion rooms at Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Oncology Center, where she received treatments. Her close friends created Jamie’s Wish Foundation to make her wish a reality.

They reached their goal of raising $100,000 in November, but now are using extra donations to do even more with the rooms, like upgrade flooring and countertops. They would like to raise enough money for each room to have an iPad or iPod and a docking station. Currently, there is one laptop computer for the entire center.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to the Jamie’s Wish Foundation:

• Visit the LMH Endowment Association’s website at lmhendowment.org/donate/jamies-wish.

• Make a check payable to: Jamie’s Wish — LMHEA, in care of Kathy Clausing-Willis, 325 Maine St., Lawrence, KS 66044.

To learn more about Jamie’s story visit jamieswish.org.

Clockwise from right are Lawrence businessman Miles Schnaer, Aimee Jackson, Kelli Alldredge, Lisa Prosser and Kristin Pearson. They helped raise $100,000 to make Lawrence resident Jamie Pursley's dying wish come true and that was to upgrade the 15 infusion rooms at Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Oncology Center where she received treatment. On Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, they visited the oncology center's waiting room to check out a couple of infusion chairs. They are having staff, patients and visitors vote on their favorite chair and the winner will replace the old ones. The renovation is expected to be complete near March 29, which would be the first anniversary of their friend's death.

Clockwise from right are Lawrence businessman Miles Schnaer, Aimee Jackson, Kelli Alldredge, Lisa Prosser and Kristin Pearson. They helped raise $100,000 to make Lawrence resident Jamie Pursley's dying wish come true and that was to upgrade the 15 infusion rooms at Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Oncology Center where she received treatment. On Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, they visited the oncology center's waiting room to check out a couple of infusion chairs. They are having staff, patients and visitors vote on their favorite chair and the winner will replace the old ones. The renovation is expected to be complete near March 29, which would be the first anniversary of their friend's death. by Kevin Anderson

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Lawrence’s high schools urging football fans to sport pink on Friday

Cierra Hollins, left, and Caitlin Lewis, both freshmen at Lawrence High School, are sporting pink every day this month to support breast cancer awareness. Cierra is a cheerleader and hopes everyone wears pink to Friday's home football game.

Cierra Hollins, left, and Caitlin Lewis, both freshmen at Lawrence High School, are sporting pink every day this month to support breast cancer awareness. Cierra is a cheerleader and hopes everyone wears pink to Friday's home football game.

Wear Pink!

Lawrence's high schools are asking football fans to sport pink to Friday's home games in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The games start at 7 p.m. and all pink merchandise that's sold will benefit the American Cancer Society.

Lawrence High School will be taking on Olathe Northwest and both football teams will be incorporating pink into their regular game uniforms. The spirit squad, marching band and cheerleaders also will be wearing pink. Fans will receive pink balloons that they can release at kickoff.

Free State High School is having its first "Pink Out" during its football game against Olathe North. Football players will be wearing pink gear and they are asking fans to do the same. Pink Firebird wrist bands and T-shirts will be sold.

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Routine mammogram ‘saved my life,’ Lawrence resident says

Four years ago, Lawrence resident Sheryl Saathoff considered herself a healthy 47-year-old. Breast cancer was completely off her radar. She had no lumps, no symptoms and it didn’t run in her family. She was going to put off her annual mammogram, but her daughter convinced her not to.

She’s glad she took her daughter’s advice because doctors found an invasive cancer. She had the mammogram on Oct. 1 and on Oct. 31, she had a double mastectomy.

“I feel that I’m the luckiest person in the world because it was caught so early,” she said. “I just can’t stress enough how important it is for women to get their mammogram. It saved my life.”

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment:

• 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

• 1,916 Kansas women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007.

• 372 Kansans —369 women and 3 men — died of breast cancer in 2009.

Dr. Robert Moser, state health officer, said the best screening tool for breast cancer is a mammogram.

“A woman’s chance of survival is best if cancer is detected early, before it spreads to other parts of the body. In fact, when breast cancer is found early the five-year survival rate is 98 percent.”

•••

Doctors called the day after Saathoff had the mammogram and said they noticed something different from the year before. They said it looked like calcification, where calcium salts build up in soft tissue causing it to harden.

But, they wanted a second look.

That led to a visit with a surgeon and a biopsy where she received the diagnosis. She had five surgeries in an attempt to get all of the cancer, but each time it wasn’t enough.

She called other breast cancer survivors to get their opinions on treatment. Should she get a mastectomy? What about a double mastectomy?

“At that point, my only concern was just get this cancer out of my body,” she said. “I just wanted it gone.”

She opted to have the double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

“I have no regrets,” she said. “I’ve recovered and in great shape and I’ve been cancer free for four years.”

•••

Saathoff credits her family and her circle of friends — who call themselves the Pink Ladies — for helping her through it. The ladies have known one another about 15 years because they play softball together. The night before her surgery, they put on their pink and took her out for dinner. They talked frankly about the cancer and how they were going to help her beat it.

Jeanne Nottingham said, “All of us have been touched by cancer in some way through family or friends and we are just kind of an open group. We never didn’t talk about it.”

Since her diagnosis, they’ve become more involved in raising cancer awareness. They have a team for the annual Relay For Life event which raises money for the American Cancer Society, and participate in other walks and charity benefits.

On Thursday, they were sharing lots of laughs, hugs and a few tears as they decorated bras at a breast cancer awareness event at the Clinton Parkway Hy-Vee. The bras are now part of a breast cancer awareness display, “Bras Across the Kaw,” at the Kansas River bridge.

“I think it’s just so cool to bring the awareness of it,” Saathoff said. “If just one person who hasn’t had a mammogram or doesn’t want to have it done or doesn’t see the importance of it will go, then I think we’ve conquered a lot.”

Mindy Aguilar, left, and Sheryl Saathoff, decorate bras Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011, for the "Bras Across the Kaw" event. Saathoff was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 after a routine mammogram at age 47. Aguilar and several other of Saathoff's friends formed the "Pink Ladies" club as a support group.

Mindy Aguilar, left, and Sheryl Saathoff, decorate bras Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011, for the "Bras Across the Kaw" event. Saathoff was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 after a routine mammogram at age 47. Aguilar and several other of Saathoff's friends formed the "Pink Ladies" club as a support group. by Mike Yoder

The Pink Ladies are, back row from left, Megan Gentry, Lynn Saunders, Becky Saathoff, Renae Walters, Ann Pearson, Cathy Gilges and Jeanne Nottingham. Front row from left: Mindy Aguilar, Jan Hornberger, Susan Case, Carol Taul, Debbie Guenther and Sheryl Saathoff.

The Pink Ladies are, back row from left, Megan Gentry, Lynn Saunders, Becky Saathoff, Renae Walters, Ann Pearson, Cathy Gilges and Jeanne Nottingham. Front row from left: Mindy Aguilar, Jan Hornberger, Susan Case, Carol Taul, Debbie Guenther and Sheryl Saathoff. by Mike Yoder

Lawrence resident Sheryl Saathoff, a breast cancer survivor, shows off a decorated bra Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011, for the "Bras Across the Kaw" event, which aims to raise awareness about breast cancer.

Lawrence resident Sheryl Saathoff, a breast cancer survivor, shows off a decorated bra Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011, for the "Bras Across the Kaw" event, which aims to raise awareness about breast cancer. by Mike Yoder


HELP FOR LOW-INCOME, UNINSURED

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reimburses providers for clinical breast exams and mammograms for age appropriate, low-income, uninsured women through its Early Detection Works program.

An estimated 27,000 women in Kansas between the ages of 40 and 64 are eligible for this program, which serves about 6,000 women each year.

Should breast cancer be diagnosed through this program, Medicaid through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act  pays for treatment.

For more information about the program, visit www.preventionworkskansas.com or call 877-277-1368.

Women also can stop by Lawrence’s Health Care Access clinic at 330 Maine for information about Early Detection Works and to receive a clinical breast exam. For more information, call the clinic at 841-5760.

For more Kansas cancer information and resources, visit www.cancerkansas.org.


Partygoers get on the dance floor and show their moves during the 18th annual Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer dance Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, at Crown Automotive, 3400 Iowa. It was a benefit for the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Breast and Oncology Centers.

Partygoers get on the dance floor and show their moves during the 18th annual Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer dance Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, at Crown Automotive, 3400 Iowa. It was a benefit for the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Breast and Oncology Centers. by John Young

FOR A GOOD CAUSE

The 19th annual Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer Dance will be from 8 p.m. to 11:55 p.m. Oct. 29 at Crown Toyota Pavilion, 3430 Iowa St.

There will be live music by the Lawrence-based band Sellout, Halloween costume and skit competitions, and a breast cancer survivor ceremony.

The event raises money for the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Breast and Oncology Centers. Last year, about 700 people attended and they raised $63,000 for the centers.

Tickets are $40 and can be purchased online at www.lmhendowment.org or at the door.

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Cancer patients, survivors celebrate oncology services in Lawrence

Doris Sullivant, Lawrence, awaits a brief program during a community celebration Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011, that marked the 10th anniversary of Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Oncology Center. She was among the first cancer patients treated at LMH in 2000.

Doris Sullivant, Lawrence, awaits a brief program during a community celebration Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011, that marked the 10th anniversary of Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Oncology Center. She was among the first cancer patients treated at LMH in 2000. by Karrey Britt

Lawrence resident Doris Sullivant, 85, was among the first patients to receive cancer treatment at Lawrence Memorial Hospital under the care of Dr. Ronald Stephens.

He was hired to help start the oncology program in May 2000, and she received treatment for colon cancer a few months later.

On Tuesday night, she had the chance to thank him once again for his services during The Oncology Center’s 10th anniversary celebration. The center officially opened Jan. 1, 2001.

“I am so glad I got to visit with Dr. Stephens,” she said. “I am so fortunate that I received care here.”

She said she had friends who had to travel to Kansas City and Topeka for their cancer care.

Eleven years ago, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. She had surgery and then chemotherapy treatments. Sullivant said she had treatments for one week and then would take three weeks off, and that continued for six months.

“I did well,” she said with a smile. “It must have been the right treatment.”

Sullivant wore a maroon ribbon with the word survivor on it, and she was far from alone at the event that was attended by 400 people.

There also were individuals wearing green ribbons that said VIP, which stood for very important patient. Others sported blue ribbons that said VIP family.

During a brief program, LMH President and CEO Gene Meyer acknowledged the staff and spoke about the importance of providing oncology services in Lawrence.

“Cancer affects all of us in some way — in a personal way,” he said.

He said his daughter just had a double mastectomy and was on the “road to recovery.”

Lawrence Memorial Hospital President and CEO Gene Meyer recognizes the oncology staff during a brief presentation Tuesday evening at LMH during the 10th anniversary celebration of The Oncology Center. The speakers had to use a megaphone because the audio system wasn't working.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital President and CEO Gene Meyer recognizes the oncology staff during a brief presentation Tuesday evening at LMH during the 10th anniversary celebration of The Oncology Center. The speakers had to use a megaphone because the audio system wasn't working. by Karrey Britt

Judy Hoffman, of Lawrence, said she found comfort in knowing that she wasn’t alone.

In October, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had surgery and eight weeks of radiation treatments. She just had a follow-up appointment and a mammogram.

“It was good,” she said with a smile.

Judy Hoffman, right, is a breast cancer survivor and attended the 10th anniversary celebration of the Lawrence Memorial Oncology Center on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. Also attending the celebration, from left, are her daughter, Kathryn Sevier, and friends Toni Pierce and Judy Pierce. Toni and Judy are sisters and their late mother had breast cancer.

Judy Hoffman, right, is a breast cancer survivor and attended the 10th anniversary celebration of the Lawrence Memorial Oncology Center on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. Also attending the celebration, from left, are her daughter, Kathryn Sevier, and friends Toni Pierce and Judy Pierce. Toni and Judy are sisters and their late mother had breast cancer. by Karrey Britt

About 400 people attended a celebration at Lawrence Memorial Hospital to mark 10 years of oncology service. In foreground is Lawrence resident Doris Sullivant, one of the first cancer patients.

About 400 people attended a celebration at Lawrence Memorial Hospital to mark 10 years of oncology service. In foreground is Lawrence resident Doris Sullivant, one of the first cancer patients. by Karrey Britt

Les and Pat Hannon, longtime Lawrence residents, attend the 10th anniversary celebration of Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Oncology Center. Les is a prostate cancer survivor and his wife is a breast cancer survivor.

Les and Pat Hannon, longtime Lawrence residents, attend the 10th anniversary celebration of Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Oncology Center. Les is a prostate cancer survivor and his wife is a breast cancer survivor. by Karrey Britt

A sign bears the theme of the 10th anniversary celebration of Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Oncology Center. The center serves about 600 new patients each year and administers about 18,000 treatments.

A sign bears the theme of the 10th anniversary celebration of Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Oncology Center. The center serves about 600 new patients each year and administers about 18,000 treatments. by Karrey Britt

Doris Sullivant, Lawrence, stops to read one of many cancer stories that line the wall outside The Oncology Center at Lawrence Memorial Hospital on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. Sullivant was one of the first oncology patients under the LMH program in 2000.

Doris Sullivant, Lawrence, stops to read one of many cancer stories that line the wall outside The Oncology Center at Lawrence Memorial Hospital on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. Sullivant was one of the first oncology patients under the LMH program in 2000. by Karrey Britt

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Community invited to celebrate 10th anniversary of LMH Oncology Center

I was just over at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and people were asking about the big white tents.

So, I wanted to send out a reminder that the hospital is marking The Oncology Center’s 10th anniversary with a celebration from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. today.

The festivities will be under the tents in the parking lot just south of the center near the intersection of Arkansas and Fourth streets.

There will be refreshments and tours of the center. A program will begin at 6 p.m. with several speakers including Dr. Ronald Stephens, an oncologist, and LMH President and CEO Gene Meyer.

The event is free and open to the public.

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Lawrence’s oncology services have come a long way in 10 years

Dr. Ronald Stephens, medical director of The Oncology Center at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, laughs with registered nurse Stephanie Norris on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011. LMH marked the 10-year anniversary of The Oncology Center with a celebration on Sept. 20, 2011.

Dr. Ronald Stephens, medical director of The Oncology Center at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, laughs with registered nurse Stephanie Norris on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011. LMH marked the 10-year anniversary of The Oncology Center with a celebration on Sept. 20, 2011. by Nick Krug

Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Oncology Center serves about 600 new patients each year and administers about 18,000 treatments.

Just a decade ago, it didn’t exist and patients often had to go out of town for care and treatments.

Carol Eller McCaffrey, 66, of Lawrence, said she can’t imagine having to travel out of town for her chemotherapy treatments to fight Stage 4 lung cancer. She undergoes treatment every three weeks, for three days at a time.

After treatment, she’s usually eager to get home or back to work, depending on how she’s feeling.

“I would always rather get care here at home,” she said.

Oncology services were not available in Lawrence until 1983, when Dr. Matthew Stein joined a private practice in Lawrence. His office-based oncology and hematology practice was the only one of its kind in the community for 13 years.

In 1996, Stein continued to see his patients, but couldn’t keep up with the growing demand for oncology services. New patients had to see part-time oncologists from Kansas City and Topeka or they had to travel outside of Lawrence for care.

LMH President and CEO Gene Meyer said there were very limited resources for chemotherapy and no resources for radiation oncology in Lawrence. Patients would have to get on a bus at the hospital and travel to Topeka for radiation treatments.

“There was a real need for oncology services,” he said.

In 2000, the hospital put plans into motion to open an oncology center. It hired Dr. Ronald Stephens, who had been director of medical oncology at Kansas University for about 15 years.

“He gave the program pretty much instant credibility,” Meyer said. “I refer to him as the godfather of oncologists in Kansas because he taught oncology for so many years at the medical school.”

Stephens saw his first patient under the new LMH program on May 3, 2000, and by the time The Oncology Center opened on Jan. 1, 2001, Dr. Stein had joined the center.

During the next decade, it grew. In 2010, it logged 8,378 patient visits, up from 2,539 in 2001. It provided 18,699 treatments last year compared with 3,226 in 2001.

Some of its milestones:

2002 — opened an on-site pharmacy that is staffed by a pharmacist who has specialized training in oncology.

2003 — center was renovated for the addition of radiation oncology.

2003 — Dr. Sharon Soule joined the practice.

2004 — it began offering genetic testing services for individuals with elevated cancer risks because of hereditary factors.

2006 — center expanded to include 15 private treatment rooms, 10 exam rooms, one procedure room and four nursing stations.

2011 — grand opening of Mario’s Closet, a specialty shop for cancer patients.

2011 — Dr. Luke Huerter joined the practice, bringing the number of oncologists to five.

http://www2.ljworld.com/photos/2009/jun/08/172248/

Today, Stephens said the majority of patients can get their diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation in Lawrence at the oncology center. It also offers more than 150 clinical trials that are approved by the National Cancer Institute.

Stephens said he currently has patients coming from Columbia, Mo., and Kansas City to participate in clinical trials. The center has served 5,300 patients from 30 states, but most are from the Lawrence area.

Stephens touted the oncology center’s staff and expertise, but he called its approximately 20 volunteers “the icing on the cake.” They try to help comfort patients by providing anything they need, whether it be a cup of ice water, a blanket or listening ear.

“I don’t know where else you can go and get chemotherapy and get that kind of nurturing,” he said.

Eller McCaffrey said every person that she came into contact with during her first visit said, “We are sorry that you have to be here.”

“It’s genuine, you can tell. They don’t overdo it,” she said. “It’s just one time, and then before you know it, they’re like family.”

http://www2.ljworld.com/photos/2007/jun/03/125357/


OPEN HOUSE

Lawrence Memorial Hospital is marking The Oncology Center’s 10th anniversary with a celebration from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday in the parking lot just south of the center near the intersection of Arkansas and Fourth streets.

There will be refreshments and tours of the center. A program will begin at 6 p.m. with several speakers including Dr. Ronald Stephens, an oncologist, and LMH President and CEO Gene Meyer.

The event is free and open to the public.

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Sisters lean on each other as they battle terminal cancer

Linda McNish, Lawrence, left, and her sister Betty Jo Corel, Lecompton, both have stage 4 cancer and are currently undergoing treatment. The sisters have looked to each other for support.

Linda McNish, Lawrence, left, and her sister Betty Jo Corel, Lecompton, both have stage 4 cancer and are currently undergoing treatment. The sisters have looked to each other for support. by Mike Yoder

Sisters Linda McNish and Betty Jo Corel are just three years apart and are best friends.

They like to bake and do crafty things together. They help each other with house projects, like painting a room. They share lots of laughs and like to be pranksters.

Linda, 46, lives in Lawrence and is single with no children. Betty Jo, 43, lives in Lecompton, is married with four children ranging in age from 12 to 23. Linda is like a second mother to the children. She goes to their school activities and sporting events.

“She’s always cheering them on,” Betty Jo said. “She’s over here all of the time.”

During the past year, the sisters had a new bond — terminal cancer.

“Don’t know if I have a few months or 20 years. I have someone good here to look up to and who has been through it,” Betty Jo said as she nodded to Linda who was sitting across the conference room table in the Lawrence Oncology Center. “She’s a heck of a fighter and us McNishes are that way.”

•••

At age 29, Linda felt a lump in her left breast. She went to her primary care doctor who said she was too young to have cancer and it didn’t run in her family. The doctor’s advice was to come back the next month.

Linda got a second opinion and a biopsy revealed she had breast cancer. She had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

She was able to work at the Hallmark Cards plant through the treatments even though she had a catheter coming out of her chest. She remembers going through a cleansing routine at home. She also had to go out of town for care because oncology services were not available.

“It has changed so much since 1994,” she said of cancer care. “It was back in the days when you didn’t talk a whole lot about cancer. So, I just kind of kept to myself and my family and did what I needed to do to get by.”

For nine years, Linda was cancer-free.

In 2003, she felt a lump on her right breast. It was cancer and she would again undergo treatment.

In 2006, she began having a hard time breathing. A doctor told her it was allergies, but she knew it had to be something else.

“I was walking from the parking lot to the front desk at Hallmark and I couldn’t breathe. I would walk down the hallway and I couldn’t breathe.”

Once again, she got a second opinion. The doctor found her lungs were full of fluid. She said they took two 2-liter bottles of fluid from her lungs. It was tested and they found lung cancer.

Dr. Sherri Soule, of Lawrence Oncology Center, put her on two oral chemotherapy drugs that were part of a national clinical drug trial. The drugs were effective and her cancer disappeared, but, she had to go on disability because of the drugs’ side effects — fatigue and hand-foot syndrome where the toxicity causes burning, pain or peeling of her skin.

In 2009, she started getting headaches, so Dr. Soule ran tests and discovered brain cancer.

“They cut me from here — all the way up here,” Linda said, pointing to the scar. “They had to cut my skull. I have metal in my head because they couldn’t put the skull back because my bones are so brittle.”

She won’t forget the day of her surgery — Aug. 25, 2009, it was the same day that Ted Kennedy died of brain cancer.

Today, she’s still on the oral chemotherapy drugs and taking one day at a time.

Whenever her tests come back negative, Betty Jo calls it “celebration time.” It’s time to go buy a new outfit, eat out or do something fun.

“She gives me very encouraging words,” Linda said.

•••

Last October, Linda’s phone rang about 10:30 p.m.

“In our family, we say if the phone rings after 10, it’s not good news,” Linda said.

It wasn’t.

Betty Jo has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She noticed something in her left chest just didn’t feel right. Several tests came back negative, but Linda still thought something was seriously wrong. Finally, a MRI-guided breast biopsy found the cancer that was close to her chest cavity.

She had nine months of chemotherapy and a surgery in March.

“In the beginning, it all seems really, really scary. You are overwhelmed,” she said. “There’s so many negative things.”

Betty Jo was glad she had her sister to lean on and talk to.

“Keep the faith. Keep going forward and just take one day at a time,” Linda advised.

Just before starting six weeks of radiation therapy treatments, Betty Jo began getting headaches. At first, she blamed the chemo. She also was off balance, confused and “foggy.”

She told Dr. Darren Klish, her radiation oncologist, and he ran some tests. He found five lesions on the right side of her brain. So, now she’s undergoing radiation for brain and breast cancer.

Betty Jo is on a leave of absence from her job and she’s doing just as her sister advised: Taking it one day at a time.

The sisters have been tested for the breast cancer gene. Linda has the gene and Betty Jo does not. The negative test surprised Dr. Soule.

“It is stunning and puzzling,” Soule said. “We ran it two or three times because we didn’t believe it.” The results mean that Betty’s four children do not have the gene.

Both sisters know all too well how precious life can be. They lost a nephew, Blake McNish, at age 11, to brain cancer in 2009.

“When we lost Blake it was devastating, but my God, ‘He was a miracle. He truly was,’” Betty Jo said.

Blake was diagnosed with cancer when he was just 15 months old. Doctors said he would be in a wheelchair, but he rode a bicycle and went to school.

Linda has made homemade quilts, pillow cases and stocking caps and donated them to Children’s Mercy Hospital where Blake was treated. She also has made hats for the Lawrence Oncology Center.

Blake McNish, of Lawrence, celebrates his third birthday. He died of brain cancer at age 11.

Blake McNish, of Lawrence, celebrates his third birthday. He died of brain cancer at age 11.

The sisters said their family — which includes four brothers and two other sisters — don’t avoid the "C" word, but they also don’t dwell on it.

“It does take a lot away from you, but it gives back too. I know that’s really weird and I should be in here cussing it, but I’m not,” Betty Jo said.

The younger sister looks at her glass as half full and keeps a positive attitude. That’s much harder for Linda who has been battling the disease for 17 years. She said the cancer has taken away so much — kids, strength, job, money, lifestyle, hair, fingernails and toenails.

“It takes away everything except family, and that’s who you lean on,” she said.

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Mario Chalmers celebrates opening of specialty shop for cancer patients at LMH

Former Kansas basketball player Mario Chalmers spoke Friday, July 22, 2011, during the grand opening celebration of Mario's Closet at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 325 Maine. Chalmers' foundation donated $25,000 to the LMH Endowment Association to help establish the specialty shop for cancer patients.

Former Kansas basketball player Mario Chalmers spoke Friday, July 22, 2011, during the grand opening celebration of Mario's Closet at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 325 Maine. Chalmers' foundation donated $25,000 to the LMH Endowment Association to help establish the specialty shop for cancer patients. by Kevin Anderson

Former Kansas University basketball guard Mario Chalmers already is a hero in Lawrence. He made that miracle three-point shot that lead to KU’s 2008 national title.

But, he’s also a hero off the court.

Last year, his foundation donated $25,000 to Lawrence Memorial Hospital Endowment Assn. to establish Mario’s Closet, a specialty shop for cancer patients.

On Friday, Chalmers, who now plays for the Miami Heat, celebrated the grand opening of the shop along with about 200 people from the community, including cancer survivors.

“It’s just marvelous,” said Lawrence resident Dianna Nelson of the shop which offers wig and salon services, mastectomy bras and prostheses, cosmetics, skin care products and more.

Nine years ago when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she had to go out of town for those services.

“They are so important because they make you feel more normal,” she said.

Mario's Closet, a specialty shop for cancer patients, opened for business Friday, July 22, 2011, at Lawrence Memorial Hospital after a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The closet offers wig and salon services, mastectomy bras and prostheses, cosmetics, skin care products and more.

Mario's Closet, a specialty shop for cancer patients, opened for business Friday, July 22, 2011, at Lawrence Memorial Hospital after a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The closet offers wig and salon services, mastectomy bras and prostheses, cosmetics, skin care products and more. by Kevin Anderson

Former Kansas basketball player Mario Chalmers shakes hands with Michael Douglas, 13, of Wellsville, after the grand opening ceremony of Mario's Closet at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Chalmers' foundation donated $25,000 to the LMH Endowment Association to help establish the specialty shop for cancer patients. Douglas, who has a rare lung disease, is one of Chalmers' biggest fans. After a story about Michael appeared in the Lawrence-Journal World in 2009, the Miami Heat flew Michael and his family down to see Chalmers in action.

Former Kansas basketball player Mario Chalmers shakes hands with Michael Douglas, 13, of Wellsville, after the grand opening ceremony of Mario's Closet at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Chalmers' foundation donated $25,000 to the LMH Endowment Association to help establish the specialty shop for cancer patients. Douglas, who has a rare lung disease, is one of Chalmers' biggest fans. After a story about Michael appeared in the Lawrence-Journal World in 2009, the Miami Heat flew Michael and his family down to see Chalmers in action. by Kevin Anderson

Chalmers attended the event along with his parents, Ronnie and Almarie Chalmers, and older sister Romeka.

“Just to see the project is amazing,” Chalmers said. “It’s to help people with cancer in their everyday life — just to help them survive.”

He wanted to help cancer patients because a longtime childhood friend, Paul Peterson, lost his mother, Pauline, to the disease. Chalmers said she was like a second mother to him.

“I just want to do anything I can,” he said.

Mike Dann, of Baldwin City, said his wife, Terri, battled breast cancer eight years ago. She went to Kansas City for wigs and other much-needed, feel-good services. He said having Mario’s Closet right down the hallway from the oncology center is going to be much easier for patients.

“It’s a real battle between you and the cancer, and somebody’s going to win and the history shows that those who have a positive attitude and can feel good about things have a much better chance of beating the cancer,” he said.

Not only is his wife a survivor, but he’s a Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, and both received treatment at LMH.

“We have the best cancer care in the region right here in Lawrence,” he said.

In 2010, the LMH Oncology Center had 8,475 patient visits, including 734 new patients.

Dr. Sherri Soule, a hematologist and oncologist, said, “It means so much to us that he (Chalmers) chose this community and obviously, he’s a big hero here.”

She said the shop will enable low-income patients to get those much-needed services.

She recently had a patient whose hair was falling out and needed to get her hair shaved, but the patient didn’t have enough money to go to a stylist.

“You would be surprised at how many people don’t have those resources,” she said. “Now, there is a place to go.”

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KU Cancer Center, Kansas City Cancer Center complete merger

A merger between the Kansas University Cancer Center and the Kansas City Cancer Center will help KU achieve National Cancer Institute designation, officials said.

The completed deal was announced on Tuesday.

The addition of the Kansas City Cancer Center brings on 10 patient care locations throughout the Kansas City region.

“What we’re doing now is merging these two organizations that have put the patient at the forefront,” said Bob Page, president and CEO of KU Hospital.

The combined outpatient operation will offer 52 hematologists, oncologists and radiation oncologists.

KCCC will add 21 hematologist/oncologists, six radiation oncologists and a pathologist.

Before the merger, a reasonable criticism could have been made that the KU Cancer Center lacked a sufficient number of patients enrolled in Phase I clinical trials to become a nationally recognized cancer center, said Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center.

“This helps solidify that critical mass for us,” Jensen said.

The KU Cancer Center already had 143 clinical trials under way before the merger, and the Kansas City Cancer Center will add 73 new trials to the effort.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to expand our clinical trial program,” to more than 250 trials, said Mark Myron, president of the Kansas City Cancer Center.

No jobs will be lost as part of the merger. The 27 physicians from KCCC will become members of the KU School of Medicine’s faculty, and will eventually become involved in clinical education of students and residents.

The non-physician staff of KCCC will become employees of KU Hospital.

Both parties declined to discuss financial details of the merger on Tuesday, but Page said that no state funds were used to complete the deal.

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Alex’s Lemonade Stands at Hy-Vee stores on Saturday

She was cute, she was brave, and she started a movement that has raised $40 million for children's cancer research.

http://www.youtube.com/alexslemonade

In 2000, when Alexandra "Alex" Scott was four years old and was undergoing treatment for a cancerous tumor that had wrapped around her spine, she decided that she wanted to set up a lemonade stand to raise money to find a cure for children with cancer. She died in 2004. But she's inspired people around the country to raise enough money so that Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation can fund 150 research projects.

In this region, Alex's story inspired the Mozer family, whose son had cancer, to set up Kansas City Grand Stand, the second-largest Alex's Lemonade Stand Fundraiser in the U.S. In the last four years, it's raised half a million dollars for pediatric cancer research and family support at Children's Mercy Hospital, the University of Kansas Medical Center and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research.

More than 30 Hy-Vees in the greater Kansas City region are hosting lemonade stands for the 7th Annual Regional Alex's Lemonade Stand Grand Stand. Both Hy-Vees in Lawrence had kids and parents staffing lemonade stands today, and will again tomorrow, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In addition to funding cutting-edge research and making new treatments available to children with cancer, the charity funds pediatric oncology nursing research and grants designed to improve quality of life and care as children battle cancer. Through the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Travel Fund, families are provided with lodging and travel expenses up front, rather than requiring them to apply for reimbursement.

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KU Cancer Center joins forces with two partners to create treatment for blood cancers

The Kansas University Cancer Center has joined a partnership that will seek to create new treatments for blood cancers.

The partnership with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the National Institutes of Health will begin with an effort to take an existing arthritis drug, auranofin, and use clinical trials to see if it is effective as a treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

On Wednesday, state, university and other officials praised the new collaboration.

Scott Weir, director of the KU Cancer Center’s Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation, said the KU Cancer Center is working on six existing drugs to see if they can be used as effective cancer treatments. Such drugs offer an expedited timeline to the marketplace because they have already received some clearances from the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Weir said that if all goes well in the clinical proof-of-concept trials for auranofin — the trials are expected to take 12 to 18 months — the drug would be licensed to an outside company, which would meet with the FDA to determine further requirements and specifications needed to take it to the marketplace.

The partnership allows each agency to leverage their strengths, Weir said:

• The NIH did the basic science that led to the discovery of auranofin’s potential as a cancer-fighting drug.

• The KU Cancer Center has extensive experience with drug development and discovery.

• The LLS will provide expertise in the blood cancer area and has active collaborations and connections in the pharmaceutical industry.

Funding for the project comes from the Kansas Bioscience Authority and the NIH, which both contributed $500,000 to the effort. LLS and KU added an additional $250,000 in philanthropic support.

“This is a perfect fit for our investment strategy,” said Brad Kemp, project director, Cancer Fighting Cures, for the Kansas Bioscience Authority.

The bulk of the collaborative work, he said, would be done in Kansas.

The NIH will also, on top of their direct funding, operate one of three clinical trials associated with the drug tests.

KU and LLS have collaborated before on clinical trials associated with a topical antifungal agent with cancer-fighting potential. That collaboration was so productive, said Louis DeGennaro, executive vice president and chief mission officer for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, that the two decided to collaborate again. The new partnership could reach beyond the current auranofin trial, he said.

“This can be a long-standing collaboration with multiple projects over an extended time period,” he said.

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Lawrence resident participates in clinical trial for breast cancer at LMH

Tammie Riccardo, 39, Lawrence, lies on a balance ball in an exercise designed to help stretch muscles around scar tissue left from a double mastectomy, during a therapy session in May 2011 with occupational therapist Dana White at Kreider Rehabilitation Services South, 3510 Clinton Place. Riccardo, who is now cancer-free, was a participant in a clinical trial at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which involved an intense chemotherapy treatment.

Tammie Riccardo, 39, Lawrence, lies on a balance ball in an exercise designed to help stretch muscles around scar tissue left from a double mastectomy, during a therapy session in May 2011 with occupational therapist Dana White at Kreider Rehabilitation Services South, 3510 Clinton Place. Riccardo, who is now cancer-free, was a participant in a clinical trial at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which involved an intense chemotherapy treatment. by Nick Krug

On Labor Day weekend, 39-year-old Tammie Riccardo received a devastating phone call from her doctor.

She had breast cancer — the same disease her mother died from at age 50.

“Cancer. The word is so little, but it’s a scary word,” Riccardo said.

She was found to have a BRCA mutation that helped explain the multiple breast and ovarian cancers in her mother’s side of the family. Her aunts, uncles and cousins also have fought the disease.

That’s why Riccardo — a wife and mother of three young children — agreed to participate in a nationwide clinical trial at Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Oncology Center.

“It might help somebody else,” she said.

As part of the trial, Riccardo had intense chemotherapy treatments every Tuesday from October to March to reduce the size of her 2-inch tumor. The medications weren’t new, but the combinations were. She is one of 215 people enrolled in the study.

“She had an outstanding response,” said Jodi Carlson, research coordinator at LMH Oncology Center.

The goal was to shrink the tumor and then remove it during surgery. When she had surgery, there were no residual tumor left.

Riccardo opted for a double mastectomy, hysterectomy and have her ovaries removed during a four-hour surgery this spring because of her high risk for cancer. Once healed from the surgery, she had 15-minute radiation treatments every weekday for six weeks. Her last one was May 17. She continues to go to physical therapy and plans to have breast reconstruction.

“It’s been a long road for me,” she said.

Riccardo said she’s grateful that she didn’t have to leave Lawrence for care. When diagnosed, she and her husband, Darren, thought about going to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where they once lived for 10 years.

They are glad they didn’t.

Riccardo said the LMH Oncology staff and volunteers are now part of “her family.”

“They made me feel comfortable and made me feel part of the process,” she said. “They saved my life.”

How the trials work

As part of the study, Riccardo agreed to do follow-up visits for at least 10 years. That’s how doctors learn if there are any long-term side effects from the treatment. The followup also helps determine how successful the treatment plan was in keeping her cancer free. In addition, doctors will educate Riccardo about symptoms that she will need to report.

“The benefit is going to be proven over time,” Carlson said.

Riccardo is dedicated to the cause, but there are some patients who participate and then don’t check back.

“It doesn’t happen a lot, but I can think of a few off the top of my head,” Carlson said. “They say the cancer is behind them and they just want to move on. That’s fine and we want to respect that.”

LMH Oncology Center is following 140 patients who are on various clinical trials. It has access to about 120 clinical trials that are funded by the National Cancer Institute. It has offered clinical trials since opening in 2000, and they have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Sheryle D’Amico, vice president of the Physician Division at LMH, said the hospital switched from being part of the Community Clinical Oncology Program in Kansas City to being part of one in Wichita two years ago. She said they wanted access to more clinical trials for breast cancer, the center’s top diagnosis.

D’Amico said LMH decided not to partner with Midwest Cancer Alliance, which KU is involved in, two years ago because it already had access to a greater number of clinical trials.

“As KU moves forward, we will continue to evaluate whether it makes sense for us if there is access to new trials that we haven’t had before,” she said. “We are supportive for KU and its NCI designation.”

D’Amico said LMH refers patients to KU for specialized procedures like a bone marrow transplant and then the patients generally opt to receive treatments at LMH.

“We have a good relationship with KU,” she said. “But, we are not going anywhere.”

Looking to the future

LMH has hired its fifth oncologist, Dr. Luke Huerter, who starts Aug. 15. The center serves about 600 new patients each year.

When patients go to LMH Oncology Center, doctors will see if they fit the criteria for a clinical trial. Then, the patients can opt to participate or not. If Riccardo had opted out, different drugs would have been used to treat her.

Carlson said less than 10 percent of patients nationwide and at LMH participate in clinical trials. She said people opt out for a number of reasons, but the most common is insurance coverage. Some insurance plans don’t cover the treatment under a clinical trial.

Another reason can be time. Sometimes, treatment through a clinical trial takes longer than standard treatment.

“I don’t often hear patients say, ‘I don’t want to be a guinea pig.’ That used to be kind of the big fear that patients had, but I don’t really hear that anymore,” Carlson said.

LMH offers clinical trials because it is committed to advancing cancer care.

“It doesn’t just help Tammie, but it helps her kids someday. It helps the rest of the patients like her out there,” Carlson said.


JOIN THE FIGHT

Relay For Life of Douglas County will be from 7 p.m. June 10 to 7 a.m. June 11 at Free State High School’s track, 4700 Overland Drive.

Cancer survivors, including Lawrence resident Tammie Riccardo, will kick start the event at 7 a.m. by making the first lap around the track. There will be a luminaria ceremony about 9 p.m. to honor survivors and to remember those who lost their lives to cancer.

The overnight event raises awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society. It is open to the public.

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Poker Run on Saturday to benefit Lawrence resident with cancer

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Lawrence resident Paul Medlock has organized a motorcycle Poker Run on Saturday for his neighbor and friend, Jim Adams, who is battling brain cancer.

The cost is $20 and $5 for a rider. The proceeds will help pay for medical bills.

Registration for the 100-mile ride begins at 10 a.m. at Slow Ride Roadhouse, 1350 N. Third St. The ride begins at 11 a.m. and will stop at Perry Pub in Perry, Helen’s Hilltop northwest of Tonganoxie, Cutters Smokehouse in Eudora, Set ’em Up Jacks in east Lawrence, and end at Slow Ride. Registration begins at 10 a.m.

Prizes will be:

• Best hand — $100 gift certificate to Set ’em Up Jacks.

• Second best hand — $50 gift certificate to Montana Mikes.

• Worse hand — $50 gift certificate to Cutter Smokehouse.

Adams, who was laid off from work Dec. 31, was diagnosed with three brain tumors Jan. 22. Two of the tumors have been removed, but a third could not be removed.

“I used to ride bikes with him all of the time and he can’t ride anymore. He had to sell his bike,” Medlock said. “He’s just been a real good friend of mine.”

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Relay For Life collecting canned food Saturday for luminarias, local pantries

Jessie Lanzrath, left, and Baylee Parsons, from Topeka, light luminarias during the Relay For Life event. The luminarias honor people who have fought cancer.

Jessie Lanzrath, left, and Baylee Parsons, from Topeka, light luminarias during the Relay For Life event. The luminarias honor people who have fought cancer.

Relay For Life of Douglas County is having a canned food drive Saturday to anchor about 6,000 luminarias that honor or remember those who battled cancer.

The luminarias will be displayed during the Relay For Life event from 7 p.m. June 10 to 7 a.m. June 11 at Free State High School’s track, 4700 Overland Drive.

Then, the canned food will be donated to Douglas County food pantries and the Lawrence Humane Society.

Relay For Life members will be collecting food between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at these Lawrence locations:

Hy-Vee — 4000 W. Sixth St.

Wal-Mart stores — 3300 Iowa St. and 550 Congressional Drive.

Checkers — 2300 La.

PetCo — 3115 Iowa.

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K-State research finds hot dogs have fewer cancerous compounds than chicken

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Hot dogs or rotisserie chicken? Hot dogs.

That’s because they are relatively free of carcinogenic compounds, according to Kansas State University research.

J. Scott Smith, professor of food chemistry, and his team studied ready-to-eat meat products to determine their levels of heterocyclic amines, or HCAs. These are carcinogenic compounds found in meat that is fried, grilled or cooked at high temperatures.

Studies have shown that humans who consume large amounts of HCAs in meat products have an increased risk for cancers.

There was no data on ready-to-eat meats until now.

The KSU study focused on eight popular products: beef hot dogs, beef-pork-turkey hot dogs, deli roast beef, deli ham, deli turkey, fully cooked bacon, pepperoni and rotisserie chicken. Researchers prepared the meats according to directions. They found:

• Pepperoni had the least HCA content at 0.05 nanograms per gram.

• Hot dogs and deli meat, 0.5 ng/g.

• Bacon, 1.1 ng/g.

• Chicken meat, 1.9 ng/g.

• Chicken skin, 16.3 ng/g.

Smith described a nanogram per gram as a drop of vermouth in a railroad tank car of gin.

The researchers suspected the HCA levels would be low in these products, but wanted to take a look anyway. They found they were almost nonexistent, except on the chicken skin.

“It’s just on the skin,” he said. “You pull it apart and go underneath and there’s not much there. To me, it alleviates any concern about the ready-to-eat products.”

The findings were published in Meat Science, the journal of the American Meat Science Association.

J. Scott Smith

J. Scott Smith

Smith said now they are examining enhanced meats, which are in marinades, and other fresh products like salmon. He expects their findings will be released later this year. They also are looking at ways to reduce HCA levels or prevent them.

Last year, his team studied marinades and spices and found that if you add them to products before frying or grilling, the HCA levels drop dramatically.

As for his diet, Smith said he enjoys hot dogs and ready-to-eat bacon once in a while. He prefers to cook his own chicken.

“It tastes better,” he said.

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‘Relay For Life’ team captains meet tonight at LMH

Christine Metz, left, and I pose for a photo about 3 a.m. Saturday at Relay For Life of Douglas County after attending the team captain's meeting. Our team's newspaper hats won an award for being the greenest.

Christine Metz, left, and I pose for a photo about 3 a.m. Saturday at Relay For Life of Douglas County after attending the team captain's meeting. Our team's newspaper hats won an award for being the greenest.

Relay For Life of Douglas County is more than a couple months away, but dozens of team captains — including me and Christine Metz — already are planning for the overnight event that raises awareness about cancer.

Our first team captain meeting is at 5:30 tonight in Lawrence Memorial Hospital's auditorium. Committee members will discuss deadlines and pertinent changes.

The actual event is from 7 p.m. June 10 to 7 a.m. June 11 at Free State High School's track.

If you aren't familiar with the event:

Relay involves teams of eight to 15 participants who raise money for the American Cancer Society. At the event, team members typically take turns walking around the track for 12 hours and camp out while activities go on throughout the night. The track is lined with luminaries that honor cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost, or to support those fighting the disease.

Last year, 83 teams participated and raised $174,000. Here's a story about my experience, along with lots of photos.

If you are interested in participating, come to tonight's meeting or contact Barb Gorman, event co-chair, at 841-7723 or gormbarb@yahoo.com.

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Area residents share what they like most about participating in Relay For Life

Forty teams signed up Tuesday evening to participate in Relay For Life of Douglas County during a kickoff party at Free State High School.

Relay for Life is an annual overnight event that raises awareness and money for the American Cancer Society. This year’s event will be from 7 p.m. Friday, June 10, to 7 a.m. Saturday, June 11, at FSHS’s track.

The relay involves teams of eight to 15 participants who raise money from now until the event by selling luminaries and having fundraisers. At the event, team members take turns walking around the track for 12 hours and camp out while activities go on throughout the night.

The track will be lined with the luminaries that honor cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost, or support those fighting the disease.

Bob Silipigni and Diane Ash, both of Lawrence, were recognized Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, for their Relay For Life of Douglas County fundraising efforts. Their Lawrence High School team raised $28,745 for the American Cancer Society last year, which was the largest amount of the 84 teams that participated.

Bob Silipigni and Diane Ash, both of Lawrence, were recognized Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, for their Relay For Life of Douglas County fundraising efforts. Their Lawrence High School team raised $28,745 for the American Cancer Society last year, which was the largest amount of the 84 teams that participated. by Karrey Britt

There’s still plenty of time to form a team and sign up. For more information, visit relayforlife.org/douglasks. This year’s theme is “Constructing A Cure — Extreme Makeover Douglas County Edition.”

During the kickoff event, participants shared what they like most about Relay For Life:

Shelle Arnold

Shelle Arnold

Shelle Arnold, Lawrence, three-year participant

“The camaraderie. The luminaria ceremony. The opening ceremony. The survivor lap — it will just bring you to your knees. The funds that we raise and meeting people in the community. It’s an overall uplifting, great slumber party.”


Barbara Gorman, a breast cancer survivor, became co-chairman of Relay For Life of Douglas County in 2011 and the theme was "Hats Off To A Cure." She is co-chair again this year.

Barbara Gorman, a breast cancer survivor, became co-chairman of Relay For Life of Douglas County in 2011 and the theme was "Hats Off To A Cure." She is co-chair again this year.

Barbara Gorman, Lawrence, four-year participant and breast cancer survivor

“The fact that it brings so many people together for a common purpose. ... The best relay I ever had was last year. A friend of mine has a niece that had bone cancer when she was 13 and she’s never wanted to be a part of relay. She’s done very well afterwards, and last year was her five-year anniversary and so she came, and to me that was big.”


Mary Beth Hill

Mary Beth Hill

Mary Beth Hill, Lawrence, eight-year participant

“The most moving thing to me is to walk during the luminary ceremony — to be out there by myself, just walking and reflecting. ... It’s dark and the lights are flickering inside the bags and you can hear the names. It’s just a time to reflect and to think that so many people have gone before us. I know we are making a difference. Each step is a step in the right direction.”


Bob Silipigni

Bob Silipigni

Bob Silipigni, Lawrence, 11-year participant

“For me, it’s getting to know the donors over time and learning their sorrows. With me, I just have so much gratitude for the people who have me in their homes every year (when I am out collecting donations) ... These people give out of respect to someone in their life and they also give hope.”


Carolyn Berry

Carolyn Berry

Carolyn Berry, Lawrence, eight-year participant

“It’s amazing how so many people from so many different walks of life show up on one day and walk around the track and raise money for cancer. It’s amazing. It just makes me want to cry. You have to attend to know.”


Brianne Cook

Brianne Cook

Brianne Cook, Lawrence, five-year participant

“It’s seeing how many people that cancer affects and seeing how each person is touched. Watching the H.O.P.E. luminarias being lit up also is very touching.”


Jeanne Bronoski

Jeanne Bronoski

Jeanne Bronoski, Overbrook, 18-year participant

“All of the people and the friends you make through the process, and over the years — it doesn’t matter where you go in town, people recognize you from Relay. I’ve been in 4-H and worked for the school district, so people know me from a lot of places, but the place that pleases me the most is Relay. It’s a good feeling.”

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Health beat: Relay For Life kickoff is tonight, Lawrence blood drives, Bert Nash CEO’s salary

http://www2.ljworld.com/photos/2009/jun/13/172527/

LET'S RELAY TO FIGHT CANCER!

Tonight is the kickoff party for Relay for Life of Douglas County.

Organizers will be providing information and signing up teams from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the library at Free State High School, 4700 Overland Drive.

It’s on a drop-in basis. This year’s theme is “Constructing A Cure — Extreme Makeover Douglas County Edition.”

Relay for Life is an annual activity-filled, overnight event that raises awareness and money for the American Cancer Society. This year’s event will be June 10-11 at Free State High School’s track.

The track will be lined with luminaries that honor cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost, or to support those fighting the disease.

The relay involves teams of eight to 15 participants who raise money between the kickoff party and the event. At the event, team members typically take turns walking around the track for 12 hours and camp out while activities go on throughout the night.

Last year, 83 teams participated and raised $174,000.

For more information, contact Barb Gorman at 841-7723 or visit relayforlife.org/douglasks.


UPCOMING BLOOD DRIVES

The Community Blood Center has two blood drives scheduled in Lawrence.

They are:

Today, Feb. 22 — 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Lawrence Masonic Center, 1301 E. 25th St. To make an appointment, visit esavealifenow.org and use sponsor code lawrencemasonic or call Gerry Collie at 856-0528.

Friday, March 4 — 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 325 Maine. To make an appointment, visit esavealifenow.org and use sponsor code lawrencehosp or call 749-5800.

The Community Blood Center provides blood to area hospitals, including LMH. The center must collect 580 pints every day to meet the needs of the area.


http://wellcommons.com/photos/2010/jul/02/194429/

SOUNDOFF ON BERT NASH CEO'S SALARY

An anonymous person wanted to know the salary of the chief executive officer of the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center.

I found out his salary and much more:

CEO David Johnson earned $125,650 in 2010. His salary is determined by the board of directors.

Johnson, who has held the position since 2001, is responsible for a staff of 200 people including psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, psychologists, educators, case managers, employment specialists, peer support, and personal attendants who focus on child, adolescent, adult and geriatric mental health care. Bert Nash provides services to more than 6,000 Douglas County residents each year and has an annual budget of $11 million.

David Johnson

David Johnson

Previously, Johnson was:

• CEO of Behavioral Health Resources of Central Iowa in Des Moines, 1979-2001.

• President and CEO of Golden Circle Behavioral Health, 1995-2000, and interim CEO, 1995-1996.

• Associate director of Iowa Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime Inc., 1975-1979.

He currently serves on:

• Tower Mental Health Foundation board.

• Kansas Communities in Schools board and as treasurer.

• Community Corrections/Juvenile Justice advisory board.

• Community Health Improvement Project Leadership group.

• Lawrence Elementary School Facility Vision Task Force as subcommittee chair.

He earned a master’s degree in health services administration at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Ill., and bachelor’s degree at the University of Iowa.

— Know of something happening on the health beat? Send me a tip at kbritt@ljworld.com.

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Study finds lymph node surgery for breast cancer not always necessary

Tens of thousands of breast cancer patients can skip aggressive lymph node surgery without increasing their chances of a recurrence or death if their disease shows limited spread, according to a new study.

For the study — published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association — researchers examined data for nearly 900 women. They detected no significant differences in five-year survival rates between those who had their lymph nodes removed and those who did not.

Cancer usually reaches the lymph nodes in about one-third of the 200,000 breast cancer cases diagnosed in the United States each year, and physicians generally recommend lumpectomies, where nodes in the armpit and the tumor in the breast are removed as a precaution. However, the surgeries can lead to lymphedema, a painful condition that causes the arm to swell, and other complications.

Dr. Mark Praeger

Dr. Mark Praeger

Dr. Mark Praeger, a general surgeon at Lawrence Memorial Hospital who specializes in breast surgery, said the study provides more evidence that physicians don’t have to be as aggressive in removing lymph nodes as once thought.

“I think it’s a good validation of what we’ve been doing and now we will probably be more aggressively avoiding lymph node surgery in selected people,” Praeger said.

But, he emphasized, that diagnosing and determining treatment for breast cancer patients is “very complicated.”

“It’s not all or none,” he said. “There’s a trend to do it less and less, but there are still a lot of women who need their lymph nodes removed.”

The study only followed women with small tumors — not large enough to be felt — for six years. The long-term outcome is unknown.

Praeger said Dr. Pat Whitworth, one of the study’s authors, was a guest speaker last year at LMH.

For more details about the study, visit the Washington Post's story "Breast-cancer study questions lymph node removal."

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Annual Relay For Life fundraiser for American Cancer Society kicks off Feb. 22

There’s a kickoff party for Relay for Life of Douglas County on Feb. 22.

Relay For Life is an annual activity-filled, overnight event that raises awareness and money for the American Cancer Society.

This year’s event will be June 10-11 at Free State High School’s track.

The track will be lined with luminaries that honor cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost, or to support those fighting the disease.

The relay involves teams of participants — usually eight to 15 — who raise money between the kickoff party and the event. At the event, team members typically take turns walking around the track for 12 hours and camp out while activities go on throughout the night. Last year, 83 teams participated and raised $174,000.

Cancer survivors gather at the south end of the Free State High School track in preparation for the “Survivor Lap” at the Relay For Life event on Friday. The survivors take the first lap around the track to kick off the all-night relay.

Cancer survivors gather at the south end of the Free State High School track in preparation for the “Survivor Lap” at the Relay For Life event on Friday. The survivors take the first lap around the track to kick off the all-night relay.

Organizers will be providing information and signing up teams for this year’s Relay For Life at the kickoff party. It is:

• from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22

• in the library at Free State High School, 4700 Overland Drive.

• It’s on a drop-in basis.

This year’s theme is “Constructing A Cure — Extreme Makeover Douglas County Edition.”

For more information, contact Barb Gorman at 841-7723 or visit relayforlife.org/douglasks.

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Kansas gets first A on American Lung Association’s report card for tobacco control policies

Kansas finally got an “A” on its report card from the American Lung Association.

It’s for passing the Indoor Clean Air Act on Feb. 25, 2010. The law prohibits smoking in all public places and places of employment, including bars and restaurants.

Kansas was the only state in 2010 to pass a comprehensive smoke-free law, and it was highlighted in the association’s ninth annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, which was released early today. It noted:

“This victory for public health was a long and winding road with many challenges along the way, but elected officials recognized the need to place public health above business concerns.”

Kansas joined 26 other states and the District of Columbia that have passed such laws. The “A” is a big improvement from last year’s “F” in the “smoke-free air” category. However, there are grumblings among legislators and talk of possibly overturning the law or part of it.

In three other categories regarding tobacco control policies and regulations, the state’s grades remained the same : Two “F”s and a “D.”

Kansas received failing grades for:

• Lack of tobacco prevention and control spending.

The state spends only $3.5 million — or 2 percent — of the approximately $175 million it collects every year from tobacco settlement and tax money. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends spending $32 million.

• Limited coverage in cessation treatment programs for Medicaid recipients and state employees.

For Medicaid recipients, there are limits on the duration of coverage, an annual limit on quit attempts and co-payments required. It also noted that private insurance companies are not required to offer any coverage.

Kansas received a “D” for:

• Cigarette tax of 79 cents per pack.

The national average is $1.34 per pack. Only 15 states have a lower cigarette tax rate. The rates range from $4.35 in New York to 17 cents in Missouri. The last time Kansas raised its cigarette tax was in 2003 with a 9 cent increase.

Some Kansas facts provided by the association:

• Economic costs due to smoking: $1.7 billion annually.

• Adult smoking rate: 18 percent.

• High school smoking rate: 17 percent.

• Number of tobacco-related deaths: 3,800 annually.

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Understanding Cancer Treatment Options and their Side Effects.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 325 Maine, will once again partner with the American Cancer Society (ACS) to host its triannual I Can Cope series, beginning January 6 with “Understanding Treatment Options and their Side Effects.” The educational series, which was designed to meet the practical needs of cancer patients and their families, was originally developed by two nurses and then taken on by the ACS in the late 1970s, says LMH oncology center volunteer Donna Flory. “Some of LMH’s most knowledgeable medical professionals will be presenting at this class,” says Flory. “It gives patients a chance to see and hear the people who are working behind the scenes for them, which makes patients feel like they have a little more power in their treatment.” Flory also says that this class will give patients the opportunity to support and connect with each other, as well as ask questions that they might not have thought to ask otherwise. Classes are free and open to the public. To register or for more information, please call LMH Connect Care at (785) 749-5800 or log on to www.lmh.org.

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Health beat: Keep kids’ holidays healthy; OrthoKansas volunteers; gift ideas for cancer patients; story of Missys’ Boutique

Here’s a dose of health news from WellCommons, around town and elsewhere:

HAPPY, HEALTHY KIDS

It’s Christmas vacation for the kids.

That likely means they are indulging in holiday goodies and sedentary activity like watching TV and playing video games.

Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, state health officer, describes this as the “perfect storm” for weight gain.

So, what can a parent do? Here are his tips:

• Maintain your child’s eating schedule, including a hearty breakfast.

• Before attending a party with a lot of junk food, fill them up on healthy foods like carrots or fruit.

• Set a rule that limits your child to just one dessert.

• Make sure healthy snacks of fruits and vegetables are available at home.

• Politely ask friends and relatives not to furnish your child with large amounts of unhealthy foods.

• Set aside at least an hour every day for the family to engage in physical activity such as bicycling, swimming and skateboarding.

• Limit screen time to less than two hours per day and discourage it all together for children under 2.

• Organize backyard football games or neighborhood walks before and after holiday feasts.

• Get your children to join active party games and dances during holiday gatherings.

• Buy presents that will encourage physical activity such as bicycles, skateboards, balls and skipping ropes.


SURGEON TO VOLUNTEER AT INDIAN HEALTH SERVICES

Dr. Neal Lintecum, a Lawrence orthopedic surgeon and his physician’s assistant, Bill Simpson, will be heading to Chinle, Ariz., at the end of January to volunteer at Indian Health Services, doing free examinations and hand surgery.

They work at OrthoKansas, 1112 W. Sixth St.


GIFT IDEAS FOR CANCER PATIENTS

Judy Newell, manager of the Missys’ Boutique appearance center in the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Care Pavilion in Kansas City, has a few gift ideas if you are buying for someone who is ill with cancer:

• Stylish warm clothing. Ear muffs, gloves, or insulated thermal clothing in bright colors or with some “bling” attached.

• Subtle affirming messages. A monogrammed item or personalized bracelet.

Do not:

• buy them a wig, special makeup or prosthetic to cover up the effects of cancer or cancer treatment.


STORY OF MISSYS' BOUTIQUE

Ann Wilcox O’Neill and Melissa Malter Newell — each affectionately known as Missy — never met before they died of breast cancer.

But the similarities between the two women are striking.

Both Missys were Kansas wives and mothers who lost their lives in their 30s to breast cancer. Both attended KU. And both Missys elicited promises from family members to do something in their memory to help other cancer patients.

Families of both met and decided to honor the two Missys by establishing an appearance center for cancer patients in their name.

Know of something happening on the health beat? Send me a tip at kbritt@ljworld.com.

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Lawrence cancer survivor to host ‘Heart of Healing’ workshop Dec. 5

Lawrence musician Cindy Novelo

Lawrence musician Cindy Novelo

Cindy Novelo, a singer and songwriter, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in February. She had surgery and then chemotherapy.

Now in remission, Novelo said she has often contemplated how spiritual and physical healing are related.

During the "Heart of Healing" workshop, Novelo will explore the issue with participants and then lead them through a variety of exercises designed to help them explore how a deeper healing might be experienced in their lives.

The workshop will be from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5, at Lawrence Unitarian Fellowship, 1263 N. 1100 Road. The cost is $35.

For more information or to reserve a spot, e-mail Novelo at cindynovelomusic@gmail.com.

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LMH offers new treatment for spinal fractures

Lawrence Memorial Hospital offers a new minimally invasive procedure for people who suffer from spinal fractures.

Dr. Michael Lange, of LMH’s Pain Management Clinic, will give two free presentations about the procedure called Kyphoplasty.

They will be:

• at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 6

• at LMH, 325 Maine.

Kyphoplasty is a procedure for those who have spinal fractures caused by osteoporosis, some cancers and even benign lesions. The procedure, also called balloon kyphoplasty, can repair these spinal fractures, restoring patients’ ability to fully participate in daily life again.

Advance registration is requested. For more information or to register, call 749-5800 or log on to www.lmh.org.

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Cancer-screening engine not always on track

So says Dr. Danielle Ofri, associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine, in The Chart on CNN's health section.

She cited a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that revealed thousands of patients who had incurable cancer were getting routine screening tests (mammograms, colonoscopies) for other types of cancer. Ofri wrote:

This, of course, is incorrect medicine. Any patient with a life expectancy of less than five years (whether from cancer, heart disease, or emphysema) should not be getting screening tests. Screening tests will not prolong their life or improve their quality of life. On the contrary, treatments for new diseases will likely impair the quality of their remaining time.

Dr. Danielle Ofri sounds off on The Chart on CNN's health site.

Dr. Danielle Ofri sounds off on The Chart on CNN's health site. by Jane Stevens

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De Soto-based medical research company Oncimmune shows off test to detect lung cancer early

Determining whether a nodule the size of a pinhead is lung cancer or not sounds like a nearly impossible task, but, thanks to a company called Oncimmune, a simple blood test is doing just that.

http://www2.ljworld.com/photos/2010/n... Oncimmune, based in De Soto, has developed a multi-panel blood test, the Early Cancer Detection Test-Lung, or EarlyCDT-Lung, to detect antigens produced by tumors in early-stage lung cancer. The majority of lung cancer cases, approximately 85 percent according to the Lung Cancer Alliance, are detected in late-stage form and have a mere five-year survival expectancy.

Late detection is more common because early-stage tumors are often too small to be seen on a CT scan and because the early symptoms of lung cancer — chest pains and shortness of breath among them — are relatively common with many conditions. Oncimmune’s blood test uses the body’s own chemical composition to detect the presence of even the smallest tumor.

“A test like this was really needed for lung cancer detection because there aren’t any other options out there,” said Oncimmune President and CEO Dan Calvo. “The survival rate for patients caught with late-stage lung cancer is only 15 percent but with early detection, that rate nearly triples.”

The test

Robotic equipment dispenses Oncimmune's testing serum into a divided plate already prepared with a patient sample. The tray will pass through a series of serums and incubation periods before a reactive dye is introduced to detect the final presence of autoantibodies indicative of lung cancer. It takes approximately one week for a patient blood sample to undergo Oncimmune's Early Cancer Detection Test-Lung.

Robotic equipment dispenses Oncimmune's testing serum into a divided plate already prepared with a patient sample. The tray will pass through a series of serums and incubation periods before a reactive dye is introduced to detect the final presence of autoantibodies indicative of lung cancer. It takes approximately one week for a patient blood sample to undergo Oncimmune's Early Cancer Detection Test-Lung.

The blood test was launched in the Midwest and Southeast in May of 2009 and nationally in June of this year. Approximately 500 physicians in 35 states are using the test to help diagnose patients.

“The EarlyCDT is being used by these physicians for two reasons: mostly it’s being used as a follow-up for a clearer diagnosis when nodules are spotted in a patient’s lung, and secondly it’s being encouraged for patients with a high risk of lung cancer, namely those with a long history of smoking or with a family history of lung cancer,” Calvo said.

Physicians draw a blood sample from EarlyCDT-Lung patients and prepare the sample to be sent to Oncimmune. Once received in De Soto, the patient sample is tested by Oncimmune staff, usually passing through eight pairs of hands, to be tested for elevated levels of a specific autoantibody, the chemical that indicates the body is fighting a tumor. Results of the test are returned to the physician in about a week; an elevated autoantibody result on any of the panels tested is a positive indication of a cancerous tumor.

“Our test, while the final read-out is a fairly basic color chart, is actually pretty complex; our people have been taught how to conduct it properly,” Calvo said. “That’s why, at least for the foreseeable future, EarlyCDT-Lung will have to be done in-house and not by physicians themselves.”

Since launching EarlyCDT-Lung, Oncimmune has processed a few hundred tests each month, or about 100 tests a week. In addition to completing all EarlyCDT-Lung tests, the De Soto lab is also in the process of developing EarlyCDT-Breast, which will hopefully be launched in early 2011.

“Scientifically, the EarlyCDT method could be used to detect any of the solid tumor cancers; breast, colorectal, etc., it’s just a matter of isolating the exact autoantibody for each type,” said Calvo.

Increased survival

Calvo is hopeful that the work Oncimmune is doing in the field of lung cancer research and detection will help advance treatment and increase quality of life and survival rates.

“In the grand scheme of treatment and detection research, lung cancer is way behind. The survival rate for lung cancer patients has stayed the same for the past 30 years while other cancers, breast, prostate, etc., have improved. I’d like to see that change,” Calvo said.

Kansas University Medical Center contributed to the development of EarlyCDT-Lung as well. William Jewell, medical director for the EarlyCDT-Lung project and faculty member at KU, has helped link the two institutions.

“Oncimmune wanted to work with some of our protein chemists (at KU) and I had some time on my hands since retiring from active surgery so I stepped in to help consult with everyone,” Jewell said. “It’s been a lot of fun for me because retiring completely would have been like walking off a cliff and because, before (EarlyCDT-Lung), lung cancer was the kiss of death because it was caught late. So it feels great to be involved with such a cause.”

Public reaction

Oncimmune hosted its first open-house on Thursday, which was well-attended.

“I’m just amazed at the turnout we had; it’s far exceeded our expectations,” Calvo said. “We’ve seen people from all walks of life come in, everyone from retired medical professionals to some high school students. I think this just goes to show how important this research is and how many lives lung cancer touches.”

Guests had the opportunity to walk through the laboratory and see technicians run research samples through the process for the developing Early Cancer Detection Test-Breast.

“This lab is just incredible and the work they’re doing here is so fascinating and important,” said retired surgeon Anthony Brown, of Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Brown and his wife, Marjorie, a retired operating room nurse, came to the open house with their friend Jewell.

“We’ve all worked most of our lives in the hopes that something like this (test) would be found and developed,” Anthony Brown said. “This just has the opportunity to do so much good and all from a little blood.”

The Browns also took EarlyCDT-Lung tests with them to have their pulmonologist run.

“I’ve smoked forever; I’m trying to quit, and Tony’s been exposed to that so we both know we’re at risk and should be tested,” Marjorie Brown said.

For Beth Westbrook, a vice-president with LUNGevity, a lung cancer awareness and advocacy group, Oncimmune’s EarlyCDT-Lung is a helping hand in an uphill battle.

“We’re all working towards the same goal, which is, simply put, to save lives,” Westbrook said. “Without early detection, everyone with this disease is behind the eight ball, but with steps forward like this test, that’s changing.”

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LMH educator ready to help smokers kick the habit

Aynsley Anderson is the community education coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Aynsley Anderson is the community education coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

The 35th Great American Smokeout is Nov. 18.

The American Cancer Society encourages smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day.

Aynsley Anderson, community education coordinator for Lawrence Memorial Hospital, teaches smoking cessation classes, and she is ready to help smokers kick the habit. She will take questions about smoking cessation during an online chat at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 18, at WellCommons.com.

And, you can submit your questions at anytime at WellCommons.com/chats. Make sure to log back to WellCommons.com either during or after the chat to see if your questions were answered.

Not sure if you are ready to quit?

The American Cancer Society has a list of reasons to help motivate you. Of course, there are health reasons and then financial ones, too.

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Record crowd steps out to fight breast cancer, help patients in Lawrence community

Partygoers get on the dance floor and show their moves during the 18th annual Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer dance Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, at Crown Automotive, 3400 Iowa. It was a benefit for the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Breast and Oncology Centers.

Partygoers get on the dance floor and show their moves during the 18th annual Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer dance Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, at Crown Automotive, 3400 Iowa. It was a benefit for the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Breast and Oncology Centers. by John Young

What a party! What a night!

About 600 people attended the 18th annual Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer dance on the eve of Halloween.

There were skits, Halloween costumes and prizes. And, there was a lot of dancing.

It was a benefit for the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Endowment Association. All of the money raised will stay in the community, and it will be used to pay for educational materials, prosthetics, wigs and mammograms for women who cannot afford them.

Heather Ackerly, of LMH Endowment, said her favorite part of the night was the recognition ceremony for breast cancer survivors. She said about 40 survivors received a pink rose.

Here are some moments from the night:

From left, Traci Wilson, Lawrence, Kendra Clouse, Lawrence, and Becky Bruitt, Tonganoxie, dance during the Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer dance held Oct. 30 at Crown Automotive. The dance raised money for the Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Endowment Association. Money raised will also further education and community outreach for early detection programs.

From left, Traci Wilson, Lawrence, Kendra Clouse, Lawrence, and Becky Bruitt, Tonganoxie, dance during the Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer dance held Oct. 30 at Crown Automotive. The dance raised money for the Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Endowment Association. Money raised will also further education and community outreach for early detection programs. by John Young

Tom Haymaker, Olathe, gets his groove on, dressed as Fred Flintstone.

Tom Haymaker, Olathe, gets his groove on, dressed as Fred Flintstone. by John Young

Erin Beck, Overland Park, dressed as a character from Avatar, takes to the dance floor.

Erin Beck, Overland Park, dressed as a character from Avatar, takes to the dance floor. by John Young

Curtis Anderson, lead singer of the band Disco Dick and the Mirrorballs, performs during the Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer dance at Crown Automotive, 3400 Iowa.

Curtis Anderson, lead singer of the band Disco Dick and the Mirrorballs, performs during the Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer dance at Crown Automotive, 3400 Iowa. by John Young

Terri Weber looks over Mom's Tractor during the Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer dance on Saturday night at Crown Automotive. Harold Denholm, Tonganoxie, and his son, Greg Denholm, have restored the 1951 tractor and painted it pink in remembrance of Aileen Denholm, Harold’s wife and Greg’s mother, who lost a battle with breast cancer Sept. 22, 2007. The formerly red tractor was known as Mom’s Tractor for many years because Aileen would use it at least weekly to mow on the family’s rural Tonganoxie farm.

Terri Weber looks over Mom's Tractor during the Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer dance on Saturday night at Crown Automotive. Harold Denholm, Tonganoxie, and his son, Greg Denholm, have restored the 1951 tractor and painted it pink in remembrance of Aileen Denholm, Harold’s wife and Greg’s mother, who lost a battle with breast cancer Sept. 22, 2007. The formerly red tractor was known as Mom’s Tractor for many years because Aileen would use it at least weekly to mow on the family’s rural Tonganoxie farm. by John Young

Eboni Pearce, Lawrence, dressed as Beyonce, performs during a skit put on by the LMH emergency room staff.

Eboni Pearce, Lawrence, dressed as Beyonce, performs during a skit put on by the LMH emergency room staff. by John Young

Ryan Hartman, Lawrence, performs as Eminem during a skit by the LMH emergency room staff.

Ryan Hartman, Lawrence, performs as Eminem during a skit by the LMH emergency room staff. by John Young

Rebecca Barrera, Eudora, dressed as Katy Perry, performs during a skit at the Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer dance. There were three skits during the event.

Rebecca Barrera, Eudora, dressed as Katy Perry, performs during a skit at the Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer dance. There were three skits during the event. by John Young

Bret Robinson, Lawrence, dressed as Michael Jackson, participates in one of three skits during the 2010 Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer dance.

Bret Robinson, Lawrence, dressed as Michael Jackson, participates in one of three skits during the 2010 Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer dance. by John Young

Tabitha Wilson, Lawrence, models the latest in swimwear as part of a fashion show skit by the LMH surgery department.

Tabitha Wilson, Lawrence, models the latest in swimwear as part of a fashion show skit by the LMH surgery department. by John Young

Elizabeth Pekrul, Lawrence, models a wedding dress as part of a fashion show skit by the LMH surgery department.

Elizabeth Pekrul, Lawrence, models a wedding dress as part of a fashion show skit by the LMH surgery department. by John Young

Isaac Erwin, 10, Topeka, shows Michael Jackson how to moonwalk.

Isaac Erwin, 10, Topeka, shows Michael Jackson how to moonwalk. by John Young

Jaclyn Landers, 8, Lawrence, gets her groove on at the 2010 Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer Dance held Oct. 30 at Crown Automotive, 3400 Iowa. For more photos, visit WellCommons.com.

Jaclyn Landers, 8, Lawrence, gets her groove on at the 2010 Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer Dance held Oct. 30 at Crown Automotive, 3400 Iowa. For more photos, visit WellCommons.com. by John Young

Thomas Wyrick, a.k.a. Barrel Bob, of Bonner Springs, makes the letter Y while dancing to the YMCA song.

Thomas Wyrick, a.k.a. Barrel Bob, of Bonner Springs, makes the letter Y while dancing to the YMCA song. by John Young

Catrina Thompson, Kansas City, Mo., is a member of the band, Disco Dick and the Mirrorballs.

Catrina Thompson, Kansas City, Mo., is a member of the band, Disco Dick and the Mirrorballs. by John Young

Erica Bulmer, Lawrence, gets down and groovy on the dance floor during the Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer dance.

Erica Bulmer, Lawrence, gets down and groovy on the dance floor during the Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer dance. by John Young

Lavonne Widmer, Wichita, drops a raffle ticket into a pink bag.

Lavonne Widmer, Wichita, drops a raffle ticket into a pink bag. by John Young

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KU basketball fans can support team, fight cancer by making 3-point pledge online

It’s easier than ever for Kansas University basketball fans to support their team and fight against cancer.

On Thursday, the American Cancer Society launched a new website — ku.3pointattack.org — where fans can make a pledge for every 3-point basket the men’s team makes during the regular season and NCAA tournament.

The money goes to the Coaches vs. Cancer program and will be used for research, education, and services.

KU has participated in the Coaches vs. Cancer 3-Point Attack program since at least 1993, but this is the first year pledges can be made online. KU is the only Big 12 school that has committed to the online platform.

Stacie Schroeder, of the American Cancer Society, said KU typically raises about $40,000 each year. Last year, donors gave between 10 cents and $10 per 3-point basket. But the majority gave $1.

“In our area, KU’s like the top dog,” she said.

Not sure how much to pledge? Here’s how the team has fared:

• Last season — 262.

• 2008-2009 — 217.

• 2007-2008 — 271.

KU student McKenzie Breidenthal, 26, of Kansas City, Kan., participated in the program several years ago. She signed up at a table during a home game and pledged $1. She ended up donating more than $200.

“I remember it being more than I thought it would be, which I guess is good because that means we were doing pretty well that season,” she said.

Breidenthal is excited about the new online program and plans to participate again. But this time, she won’t pledge as much.

“We have a lot of good 3-point shooters, so I probably won’t go over the dollar mark, just to be on the safe side,” she laughed. “You know a player like Brady Morningstar could probably take me out of my budget.”

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How many 3-pointers will KU make this year? Make a pledge, help fight cancer

KU coaches Bill Self and Bonnie Henrickson are encouraging fans to join their team in the fight against cancer.

How? By pledging money for each 3-point basket their teams make during the upcoming season.

The money goes to the American Cancer Society’s Coaches vs. Cancer program.

Not sure how much to pledge? Here’s how the teams have fared during the past few seasons.

The women:

• Last season — 127.

• 2008-2009 — 162.

• 2007-2008 — 120.

The men:

• Last season — 262.

• 2008-2009 — 217.

• 2007-2008 — 271.

Stacie Schroeder, of the American Cancer Society, said KU typically raises about $40,000 each year. Last year, donors gave between 10 cents and $10 per 3-point basket. But the majority gave $1.

KU has participated in the Coaches vs. Cancer 3-Point Attack program since at least 1993.

“In our area, KU’s like the top dog,” she said, laughing.

During the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in March, KU agreed to serve as a guinea pig for a new online program. Fifty-four people participated. The team made 15 baskets, which generated $1,548 in donations.

This year, KU fans will be able to make pledges online during the regular season. The site — ku.3pointattack.org — is expected to be ready before the first game Nov. 2 against Washburn University.

Can’t wait until then? Contact Schroeder at 438-5607 and she will send a pledge form.

KU student McKenzie Breidenthal, 26, of Kansas City, Kan., participated in the program several years ago. She signed up at a table during a home game and pledged $1. She ended up donating more than $200.

“I remember it being more than I thought it would be, which I guess is good because that means we were doing pretty well that season,” she said.

Breidenthal is excited about the new online program and plans to participate again. But this time she won’t pledge as much.

“We have a lot of good 3-point shooters, so I probably won’t go over the dollar mark, just to be on the safe side,” she laughed. “You know a player like Brady Morningstar could probably take me out of my budget.”

http://www2.kusports.com/photos/2009/oct/07/178697/

K-State's new ventures

And if you are a K-State fan, there’s a new Coaches vs. Cancer program for you, too. Fans can pledge money for each free throw the team makes this season. Last year, they made 734.

“Coach Martin is amazing. He is so supportive and he’s ready to do anything for Coaches v. Cancer. So we really appreciate his support,” Schroeder said.

She said the free-throw program was offered last year, but was not highly publicized. It raised $734. K-State also raised money by selling sticks with Martin’s face on them for $1. Those raised $4,500.

It was so successful that coach Self’s picture will be popping up this year at Allen Fieldhouse.

“It’s kind of a brand new ballgame,” Schroeder said, of fundraising.

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College basketball coaches calling on fans to join fight against cancer

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Mike Anderson. Matt Brown. Frank Martin. Bill Self.

On the basketball court, these area college coaches are fierce competitors — always trying to defeat the other.

But, Tuesday, Oct. 12, will be an exception. They will compete together from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Kansas City’s College Basketball Experience. Their opponent: cancer.

It’s the third annual Coaches vs. Cancer Season Tipoff Reception, and if you’re a KU, K-State, Mizzou or UMKC basketball fan, you won’t want to miss it.

You can mingle with your favorite coach while indulging in a variety of hors d’oeuvres and beverages.

“The coaches are highly accessible, probably more accessible than any other event. So they are out there in the middle of everything,” says Rick Skaggs, co-chairman of the event. “If you are a KU fan, you can go up and talk to Frank Martin and Mike Anderson and tell them how you feel, but you will find out that these coaches have a great deal of respect for each other.”

UMKC coach Brown described the event as fun and laid-back.

“It’s not stressful or competitive, but I guarantee when game time comes around, those guys are going to try to beat my pants off,” he says.

A silent auction will take place with a lot of sports memorabilia, including autographed basketballs and shoes. There also will be game tickets and vacation getaways.

Emcee Norm “Storming Norman” Stewart will share stories about the coaches and rib them a little during the “coaches presentation.”

“It’s hilarious,” Skaggs says. “A lot of these guys have coached and played against each other at different levels.”

'Hits home' for UMKC coach

On a more serious note, the coaches will talk about why they support the American Cancer Society.

For coach Brown, it won’t be easy this year. His 11-year-old daughter, Ally, is battling thyroid cancer. She was diagnosed last spring and has had three surgeries. She finished her last surgery about two weeks ago at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

“It really hits home with you when it’s your daughter,” he says.

Brown said his daughter plans to attend the event, and he will try to talk about his family’s experience with cancer.

“I am sure it will be very hard,” he says. “It will be the first time. It’s been a very private thing for my wife and I and our daughter. So I am sure if I can get through it, I will try to do it.”

He says Ally’s prognosis is good; doctors believe the cancer is gone. She will go back for testing in six months.

“Unfortunately with cancer, what I’ve kind of learned is that it’s an ongoing battle every day or every couple of months,” he says. “We caught it hopefully at a pretty early stage.”

Brown says his fellow coaches have been very supportive.

“I can’t emphasize how helpful those guys were as far as my personal situation with my family, and getting me in contact with people, too,” he says. “And, my experience with Coaches v. Cancer allowed me to make some contacts to get in the Mayo clinic. That’s a direct way to show just how valuable the organization is.”

Start of something big

Stewart founded the Coaches vs. Cancer program after battling colon cancer in 1989. Today, more than 500 college coaches are involved in the program, which has raised more than $40 million.

The Kansas City event has raised about $50,000 each year. This year’s goal is $75,000. The cost is $50 per person. Proceeds go to the American Cancer Society for research, education, advocacy efforts, and patient programs and services, like the Hope Lodge in downtown Kansas City, which is a free place to stay for out-of-town cancer patients and their families. Some of those patients will attend the reception and meet the coaches.

“The thing about cancer is that in some way, shape or form there’s somebody you’ve probably been close to that’s been affected by the disease,” he says.


COACHES VS. CANCER

The third annual Coaches vs. Cancer Season Tipoff reception will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the College Basketball Experience in downtown Kansas City, Mo.

Tickets are $50 and can be purchased online at kcseasontipoff.org or at the door. Proceeds go to the American Cancer Society.

For more information, contact Stacie Schroeder, of the American Cancer Society, at 438-5607 or stacie.schroeder@cancer.org.


PLEDGE SUPPORT

Hey KU and K-State Fans! If you can't attend Tuesday's event in Kansas City, there's another way to participate in the Coaches vs. Cancer program. You can pledge support based on how well your favorite team does.

For more information, visit "How many 3-pointers will KU make this year? Make a pledge, help fight cancer."

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KU opens new prostate cancer prevention program

Kansas University Cancer Center has opened a new program to fight prostate cancer.

The Burns & McDonnell High Risk Prostate Cancer Prevention Program focuses on patients who are at high risk of developing prostate cancer.

This includes patients with a history of an elevated prostate-specific antigen, patients with a family member affected by prostate cancer, and patients with a history of an abnormal prostate exam.

The program’s primary goal is to significantly reduce every patient’s risk of developing prostate cancer.

Dr. Jeffrey Holzbeierlein, director of the program, said prostate cancer affects 1 in 6 men in the United States. It is the second leading killer of men.

In addition to using known drug therapies, the program also applies lifestyle modification and dietary recommendations, which could give patients more palatable alternatives to pharmaceutical interventions.

Patients also have access to some of the latest research trials available.

The program was made possible through a portion of a $1 million gift from the Burns & McDonnell Foundation. It is located in the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Care Pavilion at 2330 Shawnee Mission Parkway in Westwood.

For more information, call (800) 332-6048 or visit kucancercenter.org.

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Head for Cure raises awareness, funding to fight brain cancer

Head for the Cure 5K Run and Walk is returning to Lawrence to raise awareness and funding to fight brain cancer.

The second annual event will be at 8 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 26, at Southwest Lawrence Bike Trail/YSI Fields, 4911 W. 27th St. The course is along the bicycle path.

A 50-yard kids’ fun run will follow the race. An awards ceremony will be at 9:30 a.m.

Registration is $25 per person and $10 per child for the fun run. Families with three or more participants and teams of five or more receive a reduced registration fee of $22.

Head for the Cure Foundation was established eight years ago to celebrate the life of Chris Anthony, a lifelong Kansas City resident and avid runner, who suffered from a brain tumor and died in 2003 at age 37. Proceeds from the run benefit the Brain Tumor Trials Collaborative through the Chris Anthony Brain Tumor Research Fund and Solace House, a center for grieving children and their families.

Last year, about 300 people participated in the Lawrence event, including Dick Wilson. He lost his battle with cancer in July.

The foundation has raised $1.2 million.

For more information or to register, visit www.headforthecure.org or stop by Garry Gribble’s Running Sports, 839 Mass.

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Events this week to raise awareness of male breast cancer

The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at Kansas University is hosting “Phi Psi 500,” a series of events starting Sept. 13 and running through Sept. 18 that aims to raise money and awareness for male breast cancer. Included in the events is a Sept. 17 concert, featuring country singer Cory Morrow and the band Flatland Travelers. The concert begins at 9 p.m. at Abe & Jakes, 8 E. Sixth St. Tickets are $20. All proceeds benefit the Bret Miller 1T Cancer Foundation and Turning Point of KC. For more information about other events, e-mail Bob Miller Jr. at bmj5225@gmail.com.

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Mother to shave head for cancer awareness

Karla Knudson is about to hop on a plane and fly to Los Angeles to get a haircut. It’s not just any haircut, though. She’s shaving her head completely.

And Knudson’s new look isn’t about fashion, it’s about childhood cancer. Knudson, a 43-year-old Lawrence resident, is shaving her head in honor of her daughter, Annika, who was diagnosed with cancer in February 2009. Annika recovered, but thousands of children don’t, and Knudson wants people to know about it.

As part of 46 Mommas Shave for the Brave, 46 women from all over the country are shaving their heads in Hollywood to raise awareness. They have a goal of raising $1 million to donate to research and appearing on a telethon to help.

“I feel a responsibility to share and awareness I didn’t have myself,” Knudson said. “When you find out your kid has cancer, you don’t have people around who know what you’re talking about.”

Karla Knudson, right, is getting her head shaved with 45 other women from around the country who also have kids who had cancer. Annika Kundson, 13, left, had Burkitt’s lymphoma but has been cancer-free for 14 months now.

Karla Knudson, right, is getting her head shaved with 45 other women from around the country who also have kids who had cancer. Annika Kundson, 13, left, had Burkitt’s lymphoma but has been cancer-free for 14 months now. by Kevin Anderson

Knudson found the women on the Internet, and the group formed a bond. Some had children who were survivors, such as Annika, 13, who was diagnosed with Stage 2 of Burkitt’s lymphoma after her parents thought she had the flu. The early diagnosis of a cancer that usually isn’t detected until Stage 4 meant Annika was declared cancer-free by May 2009.

Other children weren’t so lucky, and some mothers in the group lost their kids.

“That speaks to the randomness of childhood cancer,” Knudson said.

The women in the group, named for the 46 children who are diagnosed with cancer every weekday, found each other over the Internet. It’s the same place Knudson found help when she thought she might not be able to pay for a flight out to Los Angeles.

A Cincinnati woman she’d never met volunteered her frequent flier miles to pay for the trip. That woman, Jamie Landheer, met a family two years ago whose daughter died from neuroblastoma. After becoming close to the family, she knew she had to help.

“As a mom, as a human being, I just can’t sit back and do nothing,” she said.

Landheer earns frequent flyer miles as an executive, and Knudson is now one of about 25 people Landheer has used her miles to help.

“I always say I’m not the hero,” she said. “I just happen to be the person who can, but anybody can do a little bit.”

Knudson flies out to Los Angeles early today, and by evening, she’ll be a bald-headed beauty. It’s an idea her daughter was not OK with at first.

“At first she said, ‘I don’t approve of that,’” Knudson said. “And I said, ‘Well, I didn’t approve of you being bald.’”

Three days after shaving her head with 45 other women in Hollywood, they will appear on the Stand Up 2 Cancer telethon. The telethon will air at 7 p.m. Friday on several networks, including CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox.

Knudson admits she’s surprised she plans to shave her head, and the idea of raising thousands of dollars is daunting. But she knows the cause is important, and having her daughter, son and husband healthy is priceless.

“It does make you realize when stuff gets harder, it could be so much harder,” she said. “All I want is to keep holding my kids’ hands and my husband’s hands.”

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