Due to the mandated state of emergency, Arizona Oncology Foundation needed to close our Resource Centers, but we are still here to help!

We are still offering the following services:

  • Gas cards/transportation services to treatments
  • Lodging
  • Food cards
  • House cleaning services(where available)

Please fill out the patient application form to request these services.

Patient Application Form

We are currently providing Living with Cancer, Breast Cancer, Gynecological Cancer, and Lung Cancer virtual support groups via Zoom. We will be adding a “Coping with COVID and Quarantine” support group for cancer patients and caregivers next month. If you are interested in joining any of these support groups or if you have any general questions, please call 520-471-9067

We are still here for you!

Official COVID-19 Response from the President of Arizona Oncology Foundation

Read Covid 19 Response

Author: AZ Oncology

How massage therapy helps cancer patients?

massage therapy is an effective therapy option that you can use to alleviate your symptoms. TLDR: Cancer treatments like chemotherapy can have devastating side effects on your body. If you’re dealing with issues like these, massage therapy is an effective therapy option that you can use to alleviate your symptoms. Contrary to popular belief, massage therapy does not have any adverse side effects that are harmful to cancer patients in particular.

Dealing with cancer is already stressful on the mind and body when you factor in the side effects that specific treatments cause, that existing stress can be amplified. Most people suffering from the side effects of cancer treatment look for therapeutic methods to help alleviate some of the pain they experience. The only problem with this is that there are several different treatment options available for you to choose from.

One of the most common post-cancer treatment options is massage therapy. Massage therapy gives you the ability to relax your muscles, which aids in soothing pain and discomfort caused by curative procedures. For those dealing with cancer for the first time, finding out as much information as possible before beginning any treatment is essential.

We’re going to give you a detailed breakdown below to help you better understand the benefits that massage therapy can offer.

How does massage therapy help cancer patients?

Peripheral neuropathy is a common side effect of chemotherapy, and massage therapy can reduce symptoms associated with this condition. Massage therapy is starting to become widely accepted by many healthcare professionals who specialize in treating cancer patients. Most hospitals offer inhouse massage services for patients undergoing treatment and for those who are recovering.

Here are some of the primary benefits that cancer patients experience when using massage therapy:

  • Nausea Relief
  • Stress Reduction
  • Pain Reduction
  • Lymphedema Alleviation
  • Reduction in anxiety & depression
  • Reducing fatigue
  • Improved Sleep Quality

All of these benefits directly address some of the most common problems that cancer patients deal with after undergoing treatment. Having to go through cancer treatment can make you feel like all hope is lost. By finding an effective therapy solution that will help you overcome your symptoms, confidence can be restored in your life, leading to a boost in your well-being.

There are many misconceptions about massage therapy and the potential risks it carries for recovering from cancer treatment.

What to expect when using massage therapy for pain relief

Before getting massage therapy, there are a few things that you should know. First off, massage therapy is a very hands-on treatment that will involve your massage therapist touching multiple areas of your body. Your therapist will target specific muscle groups and points on your body that needs the most relief according to your diagnosis.

If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of having someone touch all over your body, massage therapy may not be for you. Several different massage techniques can be employed to help relieve some of the symptoms you’re experiencing. Some of the most popular massage techniques are classical massage, aromatherapy, Swedish massage, and myofascial massage.

These different techniques provide tailored relief and benefits depending on the specific pain you’re experiencing. The amount of time that your massage therapy sessions take and how many you will have to undergo will depend on the particular symptoms that you are experiencing.

People Also Ask

Does massage help, cancer patients?

Yes, medical studies conducted have shown evidence that massages can help cancer patients both after and during treatment. Massage therapy can help cancer patients counteract both emotional and physical side effects that traditional treatment options can impose on your body.

Are massages bad for cancer patients?

No, it’s quite the opposite as massages are advantageous, mainly when used as a central component of palliative care for patients.

Can deep tissue massage spread cancer?

No, there has been no concrete evidence that suggests deep tissue massages can spread cancer throughout the body. Most massage therapists will avoid areas on your body that have tumor tissue.


Using all of this information can help you get the exact relief you need from any side effects you’re experiencing from chemotherapy. Take control of your symptoms and let massage therapy be one of the tools you utilize.

Chemotherapy Side Effects

TLDR: Chemotherapy comes with many side effects that may effect your everyday life. It’s important to take extra good care of yourself during this time to reduce the side effects and improve your ability to recover quickly.

Cancer is a disease that causes abnormalities to form in the cells of the body. There are several different types of cancers out there all of which impact the body in different ways. Cancer is known to have a high fatality rate associated with it even though there are plenty of treatment options available. One of the most widely-used treatment options employed in the battle to cure cancer is chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is a specialized treatment that uses a combination of anti-cancer drugs which are administered according to a specific schedule. Chemotherapy is commonly given to cancer patients in three different capacities which are either as a curative approach, to sustain the life of patients, or to reduce symptoms associated with cancer. 

While chemotherapy is widely used and probably the most common treatment for cancer out there, there are some side effects in chemotherapy which can have a huge impact on your overall health long-term. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer, understanding chemotherapy side effects are very important.

Below, we’re going to take a detailed look at all of the most common side effects that people experience after going through chemotherapy.

Side effects of chemotherapy 

Chemotherapy side effects come in a wide range of different ailments. Take a look below to see some of the most common side effects in chemotherapy that people experience after completing a successful treatment. 

Common Chemotherapy side effects include:

  • Constipation 
  • Hair Loss 
  • Fatigue 
  • Infection 
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea 
  • Amnesia 
  • Sudden weight changes 
  • Mood changes 

Depending on what chemotherapy medication your doctor prescribes you, all of these side effects can be brought on or none at all. Your body type and resistance to the medication will also play a huge factor in determining which of these specific side effects you experience after completing chemotherapy.

However, because the drugs using during chemotherapy treatment travel throughout the entire body, they have a high likelihood of affecting your normal organs also. There are a few classes of cells that are impacted by chemotherapy at a much greater rate than others. These cells include: Hair Follicles, digestive tract cells, reproductive systems, and blood-forming cells located in the bone marrow. 

Everyone doesn’t experience chemotherapy side effects long term which is great news if you are having to deal with the treatment currently. If you are someone who is experiencing the side effects of chemotherapy you should be comforted to know that the severity of symptoms varies from person to person. 

If you do experience these side effects after getting chemotherapy successfully done, it should be noted that they can last anywhere from a couple of weeks, to months, or even years in some instances. It’s always best to consult with your doctor about after-care so that you will be able to ensure you’re taking all of the necessary steps to cure the side effects of chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy has a high chance of causing permanent damage to your body in certain areas such as the kidneys and heart. In these instances, the side effects of chemotherapy can last a lifetime which is why many people choose to go an alternative treatment route when diagnosed with cancer. 

Dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy 

While undergoing your chemotherapy treatments, it is especially important that you take care of yourself to reduce the side effects and help you get through this challenging time. 

Some ways to deal with the side effects of chemotherapy include:

  • Rest or take naps during the days
  • Eat small healthy foods
  • Exercise, like a walk, may boost your energy
  • Keep your brain active
  • Use a planner to avoid forgetting important events and tasks
  • Keep your stress level in check – try deep breathing and meditation if needed
  • If necessary, ask your doctor for a prescription to fight side effects like nausea 

It was thought at one point that taking multi-vitamin supplements may actually help with reducing the impact of chemotherapy side effects however recent studies show that this is far from the truth. If you are thinking about taking vitamins as a way to help you get over your chemotherapy side effects, you should always consult with your doctor before doing so.

There are some side effects that warrant you to contact your doctor in order to receive immediate assistance including:

  • intense chills
  • a rash
  • allergic reaction
  • bleeding
  • pain at the chemo injection site

Some chemotherapy side effects are very noticeable while others are not that easy to detect. 

If you find yourself becoming depressed because of dealing with your chemotherapy side effects, you should contact your physician team to see if they can match you with a support group that can help you. We’ve covered all of the most important information that you need to know about chemotherapy and the most common side effects you will experience when undergoing it. 

As long as you follow all of the tips and resources that we’ve given you in this write-up, you will be able to deal with the side effects of chemotherapy like a true champion. Start living a healthier life today learning how to live with the side effects of chemotherapy. 

While chemotherapy is one of the primary treatment methods used to cure cancer, it is not the only one available. Some other common cancer treatments include: hormone therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy. Chemotherapy works by targeting the fast-growing cancer cells that are produced by the disease. 

Final Thoughts on Chemotherapy Side Effects


People Also Ask

How can I boost my immune system during chemo?

You can boost your immune system during chemo by taking good care of yourself each and every day. Here are a few ways you can do this:

  • Washing your hands regularly
  • Get your flu shot every year
  • Stay rested by enough rest every night
  • Limit being around people who are sick 
  • Eat a nutritious diet to give your body important nutrients
  • Report signs of sickness or infection to your doctor immediately
  • Ask your care team about protective drugs that will help by boosting your immune system

How long do you experience negative side effects after chemo?

When it comes to how long you will experience negative side effects after chemo, the reality is that results will vary. Depending on the treatment you have worked out with your care team, your health, and a variety of other factors. Many patients going through chemo feel the first effects of acute nausea and vomiting a few minutes to a few hours after your chemotherapy treatment while others feel it more than 24 hours later. 

Cancer Treatment Side Effects

TLDR: Cancer treatment side effects that can have a negative impact on your life during your treatments can include hair loss, fever, depression, seizures, anxiety, weakness, fatigue, infections, blood clots, constipation and shortness of breath. Working closely with your health care providers and taking extra good care of yourself through rest, healthy eating, exercise and steering clear of sick friends and family can help you manage the side effects.

Cancer Treatment Side Effects

Dealing with cancer is something that no one wishes for anyone. However, in the unfortunate event that you or someone you know is diagnosed with cancer undergoing some sort of treatment will almost be mandatory. One of the most common treatments available for cancer is chemotherapy. While it is known for being highly effective at curing cancer, there are also a lot of side effects that come with the treatment.

To help those dealing with cancer become more educated about the potential side effects of cancer treatment, we’re going to provide you with a detailed breakdown of all the most common side effects that you can expect to encounter when going through treatment.

Make sure that you read this entire article in full so that you will be able to understand all of the potential side effects cancer treatments can cause.

Side Effects of Radiation and Cancer Treatment 

Cancer treatment comes with many different side effects, however, the exact side effects that you experience will vary based on the specific treatment your doctor prescribed for you. Treatment options such as radiation and chemotherapy have been proven to increase the risk of developing cancer later in life in certain individuals.

The most common Cancer Treatment Side Effects are:

  • Hair Loss 
  • Fever 
  • Depression 
  • Seizures 
  • Anxiety 
  • Weakness & Fatigue 
  • Infections 
  • Blood Clots 
  • Constipation 
  • Shortness of Breath 

Radiation in cancer treatment side effects can become visible in a short amount of time or they may begin to develop as your treatment progresses. Many new cancer treatments are being developed and released on a regular basis. Many people get excited when they hear about new cancer treatment options, however, it’s important to take into consideration all of the potential side effects that can occur before you try any procedure.

Since there are multiple types of cancer, it’s important to select a treatment method that has been proven to work for specific cancer you’ve been diagnosed with. Treatment is what happens after being diagnosed with cancer, when you’re first diagnosed it can be quite overwhelming.

Luckily, there are some steps that you can follow after your cancer and radiation treatments to help you get through it and recover more quickly.

Dealing with Radiation and Cancer Treatment Side Effects

Due to the widespread nature of cancer as a known disease, there are several resources available for those who are dealing with the adverse side effects of treatment. Dealing with the after-effects of any sort of cancer treatment can be debilitating on the mind and body which is why having the ability to use other people’s previous experience as it relates to dealing with after-treatment. 

One thing that you should always take into consideration when undergoing any type of cancer treatment is nutrition. Making sure that you are hydrated and well-nourished is the best way to increase your odds of winning the battle against cancer. You should prioritize eating healthy foods while undergoing cancer treatment to help your body’s natural defenses become stronger. 

Final Thoughts on Cancer Treatment Side Effects

All of the tips and information that we’ve given you in this article can be used to help you better manage any negative side effects that you may experience after receiving cancer treatment. As long as you remain positive throughout the entire process, you can make it through the negative side effects of cancer treatment.

Remember that knowledge is power and it can help you overcome many obstacles in life. 

People Also Ask:

How long after cancer treatment is your immune system compromised?

Your immune system will be compromised during your cancer treatment and for at least 21 to 28 days after your treatments have ended. The length of this recovery period depends on what your cancer treatment is, how long it lasts, your age, your overall health, and other medical conditions you may have. During this time make sure to take extra good care of yourself by eating well, resting, exercising, reducing your stress and avoiding contact with anyone that may be ill. 

How can I boost my immune system to fight cancer?

You can boost your immune system to fight cancer by getting a good nights sleep every night, eating a balanced and healthy diet, exercising regularly, managing stress and avoiding contact with anyone that may be sick. 

Immunotherapy Cancer Treatment

What is Immunotherapy Cancer Treatment?

Immunotherapy, or biological therapy, is a form of cancer treatment that uses the power of the body’s own immune system to control, eliminate, and prevent cancer. In the last few decades immunotherapy has become an integral part of treating certain types of cancer. Immunotherapy cancer treatment has been approved in the US and elsewhere as the first line of treatment for several types of cancers. It can also be used along with standard treatments, or for patients whose bodies have been resistant to prior treatments.

The Role of the Immune System

To understand how immunotherapy works, you must understand how your body’s immune system works. Your body’s immune system is a group of organs, special cells, and substances that help protect you from infection and disease. It also protects you from cancer to a certain extent. Any new substance in the body that the immune system does not recognize will raise an alarm. This alarm will cause the immune system to attack anything containing foreign substance including viruses, bacteria, and even cancer. The body sometimes struggles to recognize and destroy cancer cells because they begin as normal, healthy cells. Cancer forms when normal cells change and start to grow out of control.

Cancer Occurs for the Following Reasons:

    • The immune system does not see the cancer cells as foreign because the cells are not different enough from normal cells.
    • The immune system recognizes the cancer cells, but the response is not strong enough to destroy cancer.
    • Cancer cells give off substances that keep the immune system from finding and attacking them.

How Immunotherapy Works

Immunotherapy works in one of two ways. The first is by increasing the immune system’s natural ability to defend itself. This will aid the immune system in working smarter or harder in fighting and attacking cancer cells.
The second-way immunotherapy works are by using substances created in a lab that is identical to immune system components. These substances are used to restore the immune system or improve how your immune system works to find and attack cancer cells.

Immunotherapy Cancer Treatment

Common Types of Immunotherapy

Checkpoint inhibitors- These work by disrupting the cancer cell’s signals, which then exposes them to the immune system for an attack. Immune cells can usually differentiate healthy cells from intruders, however, at certain checkpoints the cancer cells send out a special signal to the immune cells. This signal tricks them into thinking they are normal cells. A checkpoint inhibitor will block that signal and expose the cancer cell for attack by the immune system.

Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CAR)-T-Cell therapy- This therapy involves mixing T-cells from a patients’ blood with a special virus. This virus teaches the T-cells to attach to tumors. The T-cells are then returned to the patient’s body so they can locate, attach to, and kill cancer.

Cytokines- This treatment uses cytokines, which are small proteins that carry messages between cells. The cytokines stimulate immune cells to attack cancer cells. During this treatment, cytokines are synthesized in the lab and injected in much larger doses than the body would normally produce.

Immunomodulators- Certain types of cancer are treated with this drug by boosting part of the immune system. These drugs work in many ways, including telling the immune system to turn up certain proteins and to turn down others.

Cancer Vaccines- A substance put into the body to start an immune response to certain types of cancer. This type of treatment can be given to prevent or treat certain types of cancer. Some vaccines are injections, while some are a re-infusion of the patients’ enriched blood. Research on cancer vaccines is in the early stages and is mainly only available through clinical trials.

Monoclonal Antibodies- These are the man-made version of the immune system’s proteins. They can be designed to attach to specific proteins on cancer cells. This flags the cell so that the immune system can find and destroy cancer. This treatment may also work by blocking a receptor found on cancer cells that is important to their growth.

Oncolytic Viruses- This treatment uses viruses that have been modified in a lab to infect and kill certain tumor cells. These viruses reproduce efficiently in cancer cells without harming healthy cells. When a virus infects a tumor cell, the virus makes copies of itself until the cell bursts. The dying cancer cell then releases materials that allow it to be recognized by the immune system. Some examples of the viruses being used in the study of this type of therapy include poliovirus and the herpes simplex virus.

Radioimmunotherapy- This therapy combines a monoclonal antibody and a radiation source. This delivers radiation directly to the specific tumor cells, but often in lower doses and over a longer period of time.

What Types of Cancers Does Immunotherapy Treat?

As of December 2019, the FDA has approved immunotherapy treatment for nearly 20 forms of cancer, as well as some forms of mutated cancers. Continued studies and clinical trials are currently taking place with the goal of discovering more ways to use immunotherapy to treat additional types of cancer. Immunotherapy is more effective for certain types of cancers than others. It is used alone for some of these cancers, but for other types, it works best when used along with other treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. A cancer diagnosis can be devastating, however, thanks to the great strides being made by modern medicine, immunotherapy can help many people in their battle against it.

How reflexology helps cancer patients?

TLDR: Cancer takes a toll on the body in several different areas both before and after treatment. While there are a lot of alternative therapy options available, they don’t all provide relief. Reflexology is a targeted nerve stimulation therapy that uses limited touch to provide pain relief. If other treatment options aren’t working for you, this may be a solution.

Cancer can have devastating effects on the body, impacting the way you live your daily life. It’s common for someone dealing with cancer to experience issues such as fatigue, nausea, stress, and more. All of these different factors can exacerbate the side effects of cancer even more. If you are dealing with any of the problems mentioned above, the good news is there are several effective treatment options available to you.

One of the most popular and non-invasive treatments is reflexology, which is also known as zone therapy. Reflexology works by targeting specific areas of the feet and hands to provide natural pain relief. Reflexology has proven to support an overall feeling of comfort and relaxation, which makes it the perfect treatment for cancer patients.

You may want to consider using reflexology as a therapeutic restoration technique if you’ve recently undergone chemotherapy or another kind of cancer treatment. Below, we’re going to detail some of the main benefits that you can expect to experience when using reflexology as a post-cancer treatment therapy.

How can reflexology help cancer patients?

Rigorous cancer treatment options such as chemotherapy and others are known to cause tremendous stress on the body. All of this stress built up over time can cause your joints and ligaments to ache. Reflexology works by tearing apart capillary congestion while also stimulating the nerve system to essentially “reboot” your body’s senses.

When pressure is applied at particular nerve endings, it sends signals to other areas of your body to re-establish the natural flow of your body. There are several benefits that reflexology has to offer as it relates to being used for post-treatment therapy.

Here are some of the primary benefits reflexology provides to cancer patients:

  • Lymphatic system stimulation
  • Anxiety & Tension Relief
  • Stress Reduction
  • Enhance Pain Management
  • Increased Energy
  • Improved Blood Flow/Circulation

All of these benefits help reduce the harsh side effects that traditional cancer treatments can have on your body. People who choose reflexology do so because other therapy options are too intrusive for them. If you don’t like being touched, reflexology is the perfect solution for you as it involves minimal human contact.

The benefits of using reflexology to deal with cancer treatment

Reflexology enhances the quality of life that cancer patients experience after finishing treatment or while dealing with the disease in general. If you’ve been having trouble sleeping, feel anxious, nauseous, or stressed, reflexology can help alleviate these feelings naturally.

Reflexology stimulates your body as opposed to relaxing it as massages do. This is why it’s such an effective therapy for restoring your body’s function after undergoing cancer treatment. Reflexology gives you the ability to experience rejuvenation and pain relief without having to take prescribed medications.

People Also Ask

Is reflexology safe for cancer patients?

Yes, reflexology is an entirely safe therapeutic method that cancer patients can use to assist in the process of overcoming any side effects that they may be experiencing as a result of treatment. However, there have been no studies that prove that reflexology is useful for curing or preventing any cancer.

Can reflexology be dangerous?

There have been no harmful side effects reported in people who use reflexology as long as the proper medical precautions are taken. However, everyone’s body reacts differently to reflexology, so speak with your medical provider before trying it.

What are the disadvantages of reflexology?

The only disadvantage of using reflexology is that you run the risk of causing damage if you happen to apply pressure in the wrong area of the body.


We’ve covered all of the essential facts and information you need to know about reflexology so that you can make an educated decision about whether it’s the right alternative treatment option.

What is new, what lies ahead

June 4, 2019

Dear practitioners, therapists, volunteers and supporters of the Arizona Oncology Foundation,

I write you today with great excitement and gratitude as we head into the second half of 2019. This year has been one of transformation for our organization as we have welcomed Alba Rojas-Sukkar, who joined our full-time staff as Chief Development Officer the first of April. Alba joins us at a time of great growth; a number of our programs continue to gain traction within the cancer support community in southern Arizona. A few updates on such programs can be found below:

Transportation Assistance (gas cards, bus passes)

In the first quarter of 2019, the Foundation aided in the transport of (55) patients to their medical appointments/treatments through the distribution of (80) fuel cards. This program is one of our fastest growing and has been made possible through an ongoing grant which began in late 2018.


In the first quarter of 2019 we have subsidized (77) total housecleaning services for patients who are actively receiving infusion-based treatment. These once-monthly light cleanings help relieve patients from some of the physical and mental stress tied to doing everyday chores and provides them with a clean environment in which to heal and recover their energy.

Wigs and Head Coverings

Donations of used and new wigs and head coverings continue on an upward trajectory and our group of wig-washing volunteers allow the Foundation to directly support patients who are experiencing hair loss as a result of their treatments. In the first quarter of 2019, we have distributed (390) wigs, scarves, beanies, and hats.

Post-Mastectomy Support

With the support of our program lead volunteers (Nancy Bullock and Sue Goodman) the program continues to expand with many new products, and additional volunteer trainings around the basics of fitting to better serve our patient’s needs.


These programs, along with the thousands of services we provide through integrative therapies, educational programs, and support groups, emphasize the great extent of the needs of the patients to whom our organization is dedicated to. The Board and I want you to know how much we value the services you provide to cancer patients, survivors, their families, and all who are touched by cancer. We look to the future with great enthusiasm as our intent is to care for as many southern Arizona patients and loved ones as possible, regardless of where they are receiving medical care. I look forward to growing our foundation further alongside you, and to keeping you informed of new milestones we reach together.


Lee Klein
Board of Directors

Summer AOF Newsletter 2019

“Together is always better”

Good Nutrition for All

“Easy Peazy Summer Smoothies” – Compliments of Dr. Mary Marian

Triple Berry Blend: 1½ Cups mixed blackberries, strawberries & raspberries with 1 Cup each of milk & ice. Combine in blender Carrot-apple Blend: 1 C each carrot juice & apple juice with 1½ C of ice. Combine in blender Dr Marian’s recommended recipe internet websites: www.allrecipes.com

Coming Community Cancer & Health Events
(Quiet time for summer events in Tucson)
Reliable information sources
CURE Talks Cancer Podcasts
Pima Council on Aging


Mary Marian, DCN, RDN, CSO, FAND

Oncology Nutrition Counseling: Before, During and After Cancer Treatment

Dr. Marian provides her counseling services to cancer survivors as well as those touched by cancer. Her specialized services are one of the fundamental underpinnings supporting optimal cancer treatment and recovery, and is proudly sponsored by the Arizona Oncology Foundation.

Dr. Marian has been a clinical dietitian for over 25 years. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Practice and Director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics in the Dept. of Nutritional Sciences at the U of AZ. She is also a nutrition consultant for Arizona Oncology. She has given numerous presentations internationally and nationally, as well as locally. Additionally, she has published 4 books related to clinical nutrition in various medical settings as well as integrative nutrition. Mary loves sports and traveling.

Dr. Marian’s goals, in her role with the AZ Oncology Foundation, are to assist patients, caregivers and families achieve their goals related to lifestyle and nutrition. The goals may be related to improving eating habits, improving nutritional status, and preparing/ for and recovering from treatment. She also provides a variety of classes to educate those interested in how to eat healthy!

Volunteer Profile: Penny Offholter

Penny has been an extremely dedicated Resource Center volunteer for many years. She generously volunteers for three shifts per week. Her coordination of the “wigs and head coverings services” along with the monthly wig washings has been invaluable! She is also quick to share how much she appreciates the assistance of the women (Anne, Judy, & Cathy) who regularly join her for these Saturday events. They may wash as few as 20 wigs to as many as 80 wigs during a session – and interestingly enough winter is the season with the heaviest volume. They have developed a highly efficient process over the years in spite of having to work in cramped surroundings here at the Resource Center. They enjoy the time together and value the work they do.

Penny grew up across the street from the ocean in Half Moon Bay, California; became a hairdresser; and met and married a friend of her brother’s there. She and her husband moved to Tucson about 12 years ago to be closer to their son and his family. Sadly her husband passed away less than a year after their move. Penny has a number of interests – chief among them is painting (in particular portraits), quilting and heavy duty reading. She enjoys travel – near and far (Las Vegas, Germany, and other places); lunch with friends; and movies. – along with a number of other activities that keep her busy.

Among the things she most enjoys about her volunteer time is the opportunity to serve people who drop by the Resource Center; offer comfort and support when the opportunity presents itself, and of course – helping people find the right wig and the right fit. Her smiling face is always welcoming to our patients and their families.

Survivor’s Corner

Irene Stern Friedman is one of our Arizona Oncology Foundation Volunteers at the Craycroft Resource Center. She has been sharing her time with the Center and cancer survivors for the past 5 years.

Irene’s account: One Friday night in 2013, I realized something was wrong with my right breast. Early that next Monday morning my (retired physician) husband and I were at Radiology Limited with his prescription pad. He ordered a mammogram. When it came back positive staff there recommended an ultrasound and needle guided biopsy/aspiration. My husband used his surgeon voice to get them to fit it in that day. Malignant invasive ductal cancer was confirmed. We were told “it is very aggressive Metastatic Carcinoma and the future is grim.” My thoughts centered around how to tell the children.

I saw a surgeon who said the invasive cancer had spread and I needed chemotherapy before surgery. She said I’d need chemotherapy, radiation, and a mastectomy. Who knew you didn’t get surgery first? She explained it was too wide-spread and must be treated systemically first.

At my first oncology appointment, I learned that I had inflammatory breast cancer stage 4b and was unlikely to survive.

I realized: “why not me?” God has a plan which we often do not understand. If we have faith when things were good, we should have exactly the same faith when things are bad. We’re all going to die. Apparently I would die 20+ years sooner than I had expected. But I had already lived 62 years, many of them wonderful years. I had been married to an intelligent and loving man and lived in lovely homes and reared three children. I have been blessed to watch those children grow into fine adults and get married.

A few days later the complete cytology showed the tumor was HER+ which meant a new chemo drug could be used and give me a good chance at living. This drug would not have been available six months earlier. Inflammatory breast cancer is very bad and often stage 4 but HER+ means they can target the cancer. I had a year of chemotherapy and each Tuesday my Facebook post said something like “Fighting cancer with chemo;” I had six weeks of radiation; and at the time of surgery there was no tumor to remove so I had a lumpectomy, not a mastectomy.

It’s almost five years since I finished treatment except for a daily Aromatase Inhibitor pill. Other than minor side effects, I am fine. I have hair again and I am glad to be alive. I thank G-d and the miracles of medicine.

Caregiver / Co-Survivor’s Corner

Ellis F. Friedman, M.D.

I was an orthopedic surgeon in Pennsylvania at a very large hospital, where I practiced for 30 years and knew almost everyone on the large medical staff. After we moved to Tucson, I knew virtually no one in the Tucson medical community.

On a Friday night in 2013, we discovered a lump in my wife’s breast. The next day I called one of the few Tucson physicians I knew, a radiologist. I asked him to arrange a mammogram for my wife early the next Monday. The results were ominous, so I arranged for an ultrasound and biopsy that afternoon. This was followed by a contrast MRI scan on Tuesday; an appointment with a surgeon on Wednesday – at which time we learned that, in addition to the breast mass, there were metastatic lymph nodes, and that surgery should be deferred until chemotherapy was administered; a Pet scan on Thursday – which showed no metastases anywhere else; and an initial appointment at the UA Cancer Center on Friday. (A very full week.)

The following Monday, a full intake was done; on Tuesday we met the oncologist, who gave us the first good news: the advanced Stage 4b inflammatory breast cancer was thought to be very treatable by a new drug that had just come on the market.

My wife started her weekly chemotherapy on Wednesday. By the second treatment the following Tuesday, the breast mass had already started to shrink! At 11 weeks, a new MRI scan showed the metastatic lymph nodes had disappeared and that the breast mass was markedly smaller! At 16 weeks, the surgeon could find only normal tissues when she attempted to perform a “lumpectomy,” and the two lymph nodes she removed were also entirely normal!

Beginning on the day we first met the surgeon, I started sending emails to all of our children, friends, and relatives to let them know exactly what was happening and to keep them constantly informed. Cancer is not a stigma, and we felt that letting everyone know might result in someone’s being able to provide useful information that they might not have known otherwise.

I dropped almost all of my own activities so that I could drive my wife to every appointment and be available for her at all times. She insisted on continuing our regular schedule, exercising daily at home, going to the gym several times a week, dining out regularly with friends, and going to religious services as regularly as always. She did things at a slower pace, but continued to do everything, even when her hemoglobin dropped from the chemotherapy. We’re thrilled she’s been disease free for 5-1/2 years!

Thoughts on survivorship…

“We are more than just our prognosis”
Gracie: Gail Sommer Germain 2016

Sign Up for E-News
Resource Center 
East Tucson

2625 N Craycroft Rd, Suite 215, Tucson, AZ 85712
Phone: 520-324-2840
Operating Hours: 9 AM - 5 PM Mon - Fri (Except Holidays)

Resource Center 
Northwest Tucson

2070 W Rudasill Rd, Suite 100, Tucson, AZ 85704
Phone: 520-877-9038
Operating Hours: 9 AM - 5 PM Mon - Fri (Except Holidays)

Medical Oncology & Hematology
Green Valley

1315 S La Cañada Dr, Green Valley, AZ 85622
Phone: 520-625-6600
Operating Hours: 8 AM - 5 PM Mon - Fri (Except Holidays)

(Some services are available in Phoenix and Northern Arizona)

Arizona Oncology Foundation is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization.

All accepted clothing (click HERE for an extensive list) and monetary donations are specifically used to help cancer victims, their families and caretakers by means of offering them non-medical, healthcare supportive services, financial aid services and cancer support groups, which help people through cancer treatment and survivorship as we strive to increase the quality of life of all those affected by cancer. Please DONATE today!

Note: Practitioners and program leaders are independent contractors

© 2020 Arizona Oncology Foundation
Charity ID (EIN): 27-4035615