By David Ansell, MD
We provide excellent medical care at Rush, and we all can take pride in the high quality of treatment we offer our patients. It’s important, though, that in providing care we have true compassion for each patient, and not just treat the medical problem.
Our late colleague Roy Bakay, MD, provided great insight into patients’ need for compassionate understanding in a video he made before he died in September, following a long battle with stomach cancer. Drawing on his mutual experiences as a patient at Rush and as a neurosurgeon providing care for Rush patients, he eloquently and movingly talks about the insight he gained into patients’ fears and vulnerability. Roy goes on to discuss the importance of truly communicating with patients about their condition and making sure their families are involved in their care.
A highly accomplished clinician and researcher who specialized in Parkinson’s disease, Roy knew full well how demanding work at Rush can be. He also recognized, and talks about, the great difference it makes if caregivers do, or don’t, take simple steps to make sure patients understand who they are and what their role is in a patient’s care.
I encourage everyone to watch the video and benefit from the insights he offers from his own experience with illness. I’m sure you’ll be moved by Roy’s bravery and inspired by his example.
David Ansell, MD, MPH, is senior vice president of clinical affairs and chief medical officer at Rush University Medical Center.
Thelma Gant with her Pink Diva’s Pink Project partners
My name is Thelma Gant. I’m a breast cancer survivor.
Back in 2010, I was diagnosed with DCIS — ductal carcinoma in situ. DCIS is the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer that starts in the milk ducts and has not yet spread into any normal tissue.
I received the best care here at Rush University Cancer Center, under the care of Dr. Ruta Rao. I was very lucky to detect it early by having my mammogram. I can’t stress enough the importance of having your annual mammogram check, which is key to early detection if diagnosed. Also knowing your family health history is important.
Once I was diagnosed, my team of doctors discussed my treatment plan, which consists of lumpectomy (removal of tumor), chemotherapy and radiation. After completing all my treatments, I wanted to find some kind of way to help women by educating them about breast cancer awareness.
In 2011, I created Pink Divas Pink Project. This group started out with me and four other women. The group has now grown to 11 members strong. We are starting to reach out to different community getting the message out. I was just invited out to Mount Moriah Baptist Church Health Fair in Harvey, Ill., and it was a great experience. I was able to make contact with this lovely lady who promised me she would schedule her mammogram.
Megan Kono (right) and Rush Philanthropy colleague Deanna Wisthuff
By Megan Kono
For as long as I can remember, swimming has been a big part of my life. From tiny tots swim lessons to year-round club teams, from high school swimming all the way through college, the sport has served as a constant anchor for me growing up. But after graduating in 2011 and taking a position on the Philanthropy staff at Rush, I wasn’t sure that swimming would have a place in my life as an adult, and I certainly didn’t think it would weave into our mission at Rush. After learning about the partnership between Rush and Swim Across America, I’m happy to say I was wrong.
Swim Across America is a nationally recognized foundation dedicated to increasing both awareness and funds in the fight against cancer. Ordinary people all over the country take part in the many open water events that Swim Across America organizes, swimming to raise money for cancer research. This summer marks the second year that Swim Across America has partnered with Rush to raise funds for research projects in our cancer center. Once again, proceeds from the Swim Across America Chicago Open Water Swim on July 20 be will be used to forward cancer research at Rush and bring us one step closer to eradicating this awful illness.
By Emilee Lamorena
On Feb. 17, 2010, while I was teaching high school science in the Bronx, my mother was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. I quickly left everything — my teaching fellowship, my master’s degree program and my friends — and returned to Chicago to be with my family and my mom.
I always knew I was going to work in health care, but I wasn’t sure which route or specialty I was really interested in. While I saw my mother suffering, I came to a very big realization: There is nothing in the world harder than watching someone you love struggle for a breath. It was the most helpless feeling to not be able to alleviate any of that hardship.
After caring for her through her illness (my mother passed away about 10 months after she was diagnosed), I knew that I wanted to dedicate my life to helping people breathe and supporting their loved ones. In 2011, I entered the Master of Science in Respiratory Care Program at Rush, where my mother received wonderful care, so I could help people care for their heart and lungs.
By Angela Johnson
In a beautiful and quiet space of the 10th-floor Rush University Cancer Center, a team of integrative medicine providers helps people diagnosed with cancer heal in mind, body and spirit.
The Cancer Integrative Medicine Program team recently received exciting news: The Susan F. Lasky Cancer Foundation has provided funding so that patients with breast cancer can participate in a series of acupuncture, massage, nutritional counseling or yoga sessions, at no charge. The Cancer Integrative Medicine Program team is honored to receive this donation, as it creates opportunities for people who may not otherwise be able to afford our services, with a chance to be involved in their own care.
As the practitioner of Chinese medicine for the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program, I am thrilled to have this resource available to breast cancer patients. For those who elect acupuncture, the ability to receive a series of weekly treatments can make a significant impact in helping reduce the side effects related to cancer and cancer treatment. As one of the most studied forms of complementary medicine, acupuncture has been found to be safe, and play a very useful role in symptom supportive care. In research studies, acupuncture supports the immune system, and is known to help with symptoms like fatigue, depression, pain, vomiting, radiation-induced xerostomia (i.e., dry mouth), and chemotherapy-induced hot flashes.
If you or someone you know has a breast cancer diagnosis, and is interested in integrative medicine, please contact the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program at (312) 563-2531 to learn more about this wonderful opportunity.
Angela Johnson, Dipl OM, MSTOM, MPH, LAc, is a practitioner of Chinese medicine with the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program at Rush.
Staff and students at Rush University Medical Center gave up their hair for a good cause at the March 29 St. Baldrick’s Fundraiser, proceeds from which will go to pediatric cancer research. Learn more.
(Top row, from left) John Meyer, Preston Smith, Neal Khurana, Chris Wickman. (Middle) Dan Jeong, Kumar Madassery, Jack Laney, Paul Lewis. (Bottom) Nabeel Anwar, Christian Malalis, Mehmet Kocak, Ankur Patel. Photos by Lauren Anderson, Rush Photo Group.
Noticed a few more mustachioed medical staff members roaming the Rush corridors? It’s not your imagination. It’s Movember. On behalf of his fellow radiology residents (and a few attending physicians), Kumar Madassery, MD, explains:
All those men out there who have always had a mustache, and may feel slighted by us making mockery of a mustache, let me say we honor and are in awe of you fellow sirs. I don’t think anyone of us can go more than five minutes without feeling the itch or prickly spines of the lip grasses that we have been nurturing. Our hats go off to all of those who wear them all day, every day as part of their natural rugged good looks.
The reason for growing mustaches is that we need something to display our support and awareness of men’s cancers, specifically prostate and testicular cancer. In a sense, prostate cancer is the male version of breast cancer. Statistics from the National Cancer Institute show that between 2005 through 2009, approximately 155 out of every 100,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer. To put that in perspective, the same institution reports in the same period about 124 per 100,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Men have a 16 percent lifetime risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer, and approximately 28,170 men will die in 2012 from it.