Fox Chase’s Joanne Hambleton, vice president of nursing and patient services, has a unique perspective when it comes to the cancer experience. As a nurse here for the last 21 years, she has supported and fostered the provision of compassionate care to countless patients and their family members. Then, she had the opportunity to see Fox Chase from the perspective of these patients as she was diagnosed with breast cancer and treated here in 2004. As both a patient and caregiver, Joanne has consistently been inspired by one abiding quality: hope. This year she will have the honor of hosting the 21st annual Tree of Life Ceremony—a beautiful event that celebrates the role of hope in the cancer journey. I have invited her to tell you more about this special evening, which will take place on Wednesday, December 8th at 5:30 p.m.
I hope you’ll consider joining me next week at the Tree of Life Ceremony, which will bring together Fox Chase patients, caregivers, researchers, volunteers, medical staff and friends to honor lost loved ones, give thanks for the compassionate care of staff, and recognize all those touched by cancer. This 21-year-old tradition is a beautiful way to honor the memory of all those who have fought or are currently being treated for cancer.
I encourage you to check out the video below, in which I share some brief remarks at a special tea held on November 8th announcing this year’s Tree of Life Ceremony. You will see snapshots of ceremonies from years past and you will hear from kidney cancer survivor Daniel Wolfson, a generous supporter of Fox Chase, about what his care here meant to him.
All of us at Fox Chase embrace cancer’s challenges on a daily basis. We are united together with the common purpose of supporting each other and providing a powerful source of care, compassion, and support to our friends and neighbors in need.
We will kick off the evening in the Fox Chase cafeteria, where I will speak along with Dara Barr, a cancer survivor, and Dr. Michael Levy, director of the Pain and Palliative Care Program at Fox Chase. You can enjoy light refreshments as a performance by the Abington Choral Club follows. To conclude the evening, we will have a tree lighting ceremony in the Fox Chase courtyard.
The Tree of Life will remain ablaze in the courtyard throughout the holiday season with lights representing hope. It is a shining symbol of what we can achieve—of how far we’ve come and yet how far we still have to go until the day that cancer will no longer claim the lives of our patients, families, friends and neighbors.
Please consider showing your support for all those touched by cancer by attending this moving ceremony, which is free and open to the public. Another excellent way to show your support—even if you can’t attend—is to make a Tree of Life contribution. Your donation will support life sustaining research, compassionate treatment, and critical patient support programs.
To learn more about this wonderful event, or to make a donation, please visit http://www.fccc.edu/helpingFoxChase/campaigns/treeOfLife/. You can also download and print out a paper leaf on which to write a note or dedication. We will proudly display the leaves throughout the cafeteria for all to see.
If you can make it to the event on December 8th, please stop by and introduce yourself!
Wednesday, December 8th, 5:30 p.m.
Fox Chase Cancer Center cafeteria
333 Cottman Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111
It was a beautiful, crisp Fall afternoon, the just-planted stuardia tree taking root in the courtyard, when we welcomed about 100 survivors and supporters on November 6 for the Jane Pepper Women’s Cancer Symposium.
The day was designed as an opportunity for survivors and their family and friends to convene to discuss issues surrounding cancers that affect women and to celebrate survivorship.
Fox Chase Cancer Center CEO Michael Seiden offered opening remarks and dedicated the day to board member Jane Pepper for her years of service and commitment to supporting our research and treatment efforts.
Dr. Mary Daly, chair of the Department of Clinical Genetics, moderated a panel discussion featuring ovarian cancer survivor Emily Beck, and breast cancer survivors Cathy Bueti and Kerri Conners, followed by a reception and tour of the Women’s Cancer Center.
We were confident that these young women’s stories would inspire the audience, because they have used their challenges to encourage other women to pursue their dreams. But we were still overcome with how honest and engaging they were.
For Emily Beck, 38, a three-year survivor of Stage IIIA ovarian cancer, this was the first time she shared her story publicly. A child advocate attorney, Emily spoke about volunteering with First Descents (www.firstdescents.org), a non-profit that provides free outdoor adventure experiences for young adult cancer patients and survivors. She showed slides of her experiences and how participants surpass their expectations about what they can accomplish physically. We encourage you to visit Emily’s blog, See Emily Play, as she shares her ongoing journey as a cancer survivor.
Cathy Bueti, a nine-year survivor, stressed that writing and being creative has helped her manage the fear and anxiety of cancer. Cathy told the heart breaking story of how she became a widow at age 25, and several years later, was diagnosed with breast cancer. In May 2009, she published the moving memoir Breastless in the City chronicling, with good humor, her experience as a young widow dating through cancer treatment. She also maintains a blog and web site, cathybueti.com. Her husband of seven years, who was in the audience, received a warm ovation.
Kerri Conner postponed her bridal shower to be with us! Kerri was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer at age 33, and described how different her experience has been from that of her mother, who had breast cancer at age 41 without the support that exists today. Kerri published My Mommy Has Breast Cancer but She is OK! this past February, inspired by her 4 year-old daughter. Kerri chaired Philadelphia’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in 2009 to celebrate the 10th year survivorship anniversary of her mother, with whom she operates a CPA firm.
All three women acknowledged that the experience of cancer doesn’t end with formal treatment and that issues of cancer survivorship are real. At the same time, they demonstrated how vibrant life continues to be with the support of family and friends, the pursuit of physical and creative outlets, and the faith that we can thrive.
We plan to host more programs like this at the Center that promote education, inspiration and support. We’d love to hear from those of you who attended, and we welcome your suggestions for future programming.
Be Well, Bob
As anyone who has had cancer – or has watched a loved one experience it – knows, cancer treatment is not just a matter of medicine but of the whole person. There are equally as pressing mental and emotional challenges that accompany the physical side effects of the disease and treatments. This Saturday, November 13, Living Beyond Breast Cancer offers its annual fall conference, which focuses on the important balance between treatment options and quality of life issues.
The day promises to be filled with helpful information on breast health for women with all stages of cancer. Attendees will gather for two plenary sessions and two workshop sessions, with a choice of six topics for each. Marisa C. Weiss, MD, founder of Living Beyond Breast Cancer, will open the conference with a plenary session on the challenges one faces after completing treatment, such as regaining energy and normal sleeping patterns and managing weight. Dr. Weiss has a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share: Not only is Dr. Weiss a founder of Living Beyond Breast Cancer, but she is also founder and President of Breastcancer.org, a published author, and director of breast radiation oncology and breast health outreach at Lankenau Hospital.
I am especially pleased to share that Ramona Swaby, MD, of Fox Chase’s Medical Oncology breast cancer team will be speaking at the conference again this year. Dr. Swaby lends her years of experience in oncology and breast cancer research to help women understand subjects such as the benefits of anti-estrogen therapy in certain cases and the possible side effects and efficacy of treatment. Her workshop “Hormonal Therapy: A Guide to Help You Through” will take place during session two. Any Fox Chase patients or friends attending the conference should be sure to stop by and say hello.
I hope that the knowledge these professionals have to offer will empower you in your steps toward a healthy body and a healthy mind. If you have any questions following the conference, Dr. Swaby or your personal doctor are happy to help.
Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Annual Fall Conference
News You Can Use: Breast Cancer Updates for Living Well
Saturday, November 13, 2010, 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Loews Philadelphia Hotel
1200 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA
Even though October has come to an end, breast cancer awareness and education is always on our minds at Fox Chase Cancer Center. As you know, we are currently preparing for our Jane Pepper Women’s Cancer Symposium this Saturday, November 6, which will focus on women’s cancers and survivorship (all are welcome to attend, even if you didn’t RSVP yet!) But we are also looking forward to December 11, when three of our very own staff members will be speaking at the Philadelphia affiliate of Susan G. Komen 7th Annual Sisters for the Cure event.
Sisters for the Cure is a wonderful program that empowers the African American community to take charge of their breast health and reduce their risk of breast cancer.
I’m always impressed by the breadth of topics they cover, from the emotional side effects of cancer treatment to how women in need can find financial assistance. Events such as Sisters for the Cure are especially important since African Americans have the highest breast cancer death rate compared to all other racial or ethnic groups – that equates to the loss of almost 6,000 African American women each year. Education is the first step toward reducing these statistics and building a strong network of support.
Fox Chase’s Dr. Mary Daly, Chair of the Department of Clinical Genetics; Joan James, PA-C, Project Manager of Breast Cancer Prevention; and Melanie Corbman, MS, CGC, Cancer Genetic Counselor, will lend their expertise during a specialized group session on “Personalized Treatment for Breast Cancer.” Together, they will touch on advances in matching the best treatment plan to each individual patient, the importance of a family history of cancer, and clinical trials.
This year’s Sisters for the Cure event also includes a breakfast session on sexuality and intimacy for breast cancer survivors, a breakout session on breast health basics, and a keynote lunch address by Dr. Byllye Y. Avery, Founder of the National Black Women’s Health Project and the Avery Institute for Social Change.
I hope that you will find this program a useful resource, whether you have already been diagnosed with breast cancer or you are taking proactive steps to protect your breast health. As always, we welcome your questions about breast cancer or any other cancers on the blog, our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Sisters for the Cure will take place at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, 1201 Market Street, Philadelphia on December 11, 2010 from 8:30am – 2pm.
For more information or to register, visit the Susan G. Komen Sisters for the Cure website.