Summer AOF Newsletter 2019
“Together is always better”
Who Doesn’t Know This Man?!
Ron Bridgeman, M.A., is Our All-Around Program Support Person. He joined the Foundation in 2016 as Program Manager. He comes from a non-profit management background where he has directed programs, events, and volunteers since the early 2000’s. His early career centered in the museum world, focusing on Southwestern cultures and communities. He worked for the both the prestigious Amerind Foundation as well as the Pueblo Grande Museums.
Ron did his Master’s degree work in Mata Ortiz, Mexico where his research addressed cultural landscapes. Ron brought his appreciation of community and ‘community building’ to his work at the Foundation. His role includes recruiting, training, and placing volunteers as well as coordinating the integrative therapy practitioners’ services and schedules. His working goal is to build community among our survivors, volunteers, and practitioners. Ron always goes the extra mile when helping survivors, co-survivors, and families – particularly when connecting them with some of the lesser known Foundation resources (such as gas cards and housekeeping services for those in active treatment).
In his free time Ron follows his interests as a musician, graphic artist, and filmmaker. He is currently producing a short film which should premiere in late Fall. Stay tuned for updates on the final release date.
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
SPOTLIGHT ON RESOURCE CENTER SERVICES
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.
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