Experts Answer Your Questions About Breast Cancer

Melody Cobleigh, MD, a renowned medical oncologist at Rush, will participate in an online Q&A about breast cancer on Friday, Oct. 12, from noon to 1 p.m. She’ll be joined by breast cancer surgeon Andrea Madrigrano, MD.

In this video, Cobleigh talks about her involvement in research of the medication Herceptin, which is now part of the standard of care for breast cancer treatment.

“We were dealing with some patients who were extremely ill who got better right before our eyes,” she says, “and that was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life in medicine.”

To watch the chat live or submit a question, visit Rush’s Facebook page on Oct. 12 or sign up now for an event reminder. You can also submit questions in advance on Twitter by including the #rushhealthchat tag or via email at

Why I Nominated Rush’s Team of the Year

Erin Schneider (right), a patient navigator at Rush, with Rush social worker Deirdra Soohov.

Rush’s Cancer Integrative Medicine Program staff was recently honored as the 2011 Bradley G. Hinrichs Team of the Year at Rush. Erin Schneider, a social worker and patient navigator for the Rush University Cancer Center, explains why she nominated the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program team.

By Erin Schneider

When you hear the words, “You have cancer,” many thoughts go through your head all at the same time. “Am I going to die?” “Where should I get my treatment?” “What kind of treatment will I need?” “How am I going to feel?”

Eventually, once the shock has worn off, you are able to start piecing things together and answering all of those questions. However, even when everything has fallen into place and patients are receiving the best possible care, they can feel out of control because someone else is making decisions regarding their health. Their surgeon says they need this surgery, and their oncologist says they need this chemo; they have little choice in the matter because these are the treatments that have been proven to cure their disease.

Fortunately, here at Rush we have the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program, which offers patients complementary therapies to help fight their cancer and the side effects from treatment. When patients can choose to receive acupuncture to help alleviate  pain and nausea, rather than relying solely on medications that their doctor prescribes, they regain some control of their health. Feeling in control can improve outcomes. Continue reading

My Dream Team at the Rush University Cancer Center

By Angela K. Walker

I’m sure you have seen the television commercials. A group of individuals describing how they came together to help an ailing individual. The commercials are a quick snapshot of the “team approach” that is in place at Rush University Medical Center.

The spots are called Rush Stories, and I have a story of my own. On Feb. 13, 2006, I was diagnosed with infiltrating ductal carcinoma, a form of breast cancer. I chose to get a second opinion and selected Rush as the place where I would get it.

A close family friend had recently completed successful treatment for lymphoma at Rush so I had a frame of reference. After completing a series of steps to secure an appointment, I arrived, still with a “deer in headlights” demeanor. I waited in an unassuming room with lots of light and windows and in walks in not one, not two, not three, but five individuals.

A medical oncologist, a surgical oncologist, a radiation oncologist, a nurse practitioner and a psychiatrist introduced themselves to me. Clearly, still being in a semi-state of shock, this was a bit intimidating. Many thoughts are racing through my head. I didn’t know what to expect or what was going to happen next. Eventually, I would learn that they each would take the lead and answer the questions I had and even the questions I didn’t know I had. Continue reading

Rush Pioneer Praises New Cancer Center

When Janet Wolter, MD, began practicing medicine at Rush 46 years ago, the staff consisted of only three doctors and one nurse. Now, the Rush University Cancer Center’s just-opened outpatient cancer center has a team of more than 100 doctors, nurses and other caregivers providing cancer care in one centralized location. Rush’s Jody Lempa talked about the new cancer center with Wolter, who retired as Brian Piccolo Chair of Cancer Research in 2009.

Q:  How do you think the new outpatient cancer center will affect care for patients?

A: The center is obviously a very beautiful environment. This alone will change everyone’s attitude dramatically. In the really old days, we each had an office that was 10 feet by 10 feet. We mixed our own drugs and medicine in the hallways, administered the chemotherapy ourselves and provided every aspect of care to the patients. It is evident that a lot has changed in 40 years.

Q: There’s a conference room named after you in the cancer center. How do you feel about that honor?

A: Well, it means a lot. The conference room is a wonderful place with all of the bells and whistles for looking at images and giving lectures. Aesthetically, it is very bright and inviting, which will hopefully reflect on everyone’s moods. I wanted a place that would provide a suitable location for Grand Rounds, and this state-of-the-art conference room is equipped to provide for greater learning opportunities.

Q: What are you most excited about for the new cancer center?

A: I am most excited about the new conference center. Now we have first-rate facilities to work in. … The patient rooms are going to be comfortable for both patients and caregivers. The waiting room was designed to be uplifting and functional -– there are personal computers so patients can look up information about medication or a specific disease as they wait. And the flow of the center allows patients to check in, get their vitals taken while waiting, and then be seen by their doctor sooner. This is a dramatic process improvement that will hopefully make the patients’ treatment less stressful as well.

Q: How do you think the new technology and accommodations will change the way medicine is practiced?

A: While the amenities are a nice bonus, they will not change how medicine is practiced -– that has undoubtedly come through research and hard work. Rush is lucky to have this space and I must say we are grateful to our donors and patients who provided the funds for this area that is so well thought-out and designed, it is like nothing we have ever had before.

Angel’s Gift to the Rush University Cancer Center

Today’s the official opening day for Rush’s new outpatient cancer center, the Rush University Cancer Center. Shaped with input from caregivers and patients at Rush, the center is a celebration of the power of comprehensive, patient-centered care to tap the healing potential within each cancer patient.

Throughout its planning, countless patients, staff and clinicians made this new center possible. One of them was Lynne “Angel” HarveyRadio Hall of Fame producer, wife of broadcaster Paul Harvey and former Rush patient — whose philanthropic contribution introduced the concept of the patient’s experience in the initial discussions about the center. Here Lois Means, RN, a hematology nurse in the Rush University Cancer Center, remembers Mrs. Harvey and her legacy.

Big Changes at the Rush University Cancer Center

There’s still a little last-minute work to be done, but the new outpatient cancer center at the Rush University Cancer Center is set to open later this month in the Professional Building at Rush.

These photos are from a quick tour we took this week of the new 48,800-square-foot center, which is three times bigger than the previous space. Here are a few other key facts about the outpatient center:

  • 41 exam rooms, compared to 23 in previous space
  • 56 chemotherapy infusion stations, 20 of them private, compared to 36 stations before
  • Three procedure rooms, including designated rooms for diagnostic gynecologic and bone marrow procedures, compared to one in the previous space
  • 15 consultation rooms, compared to three in previous space
  • 95 computers, compared to 50 before

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Q&A with Cancer Center’s Howard Kaufman, MD

Howard Kaufman, MD, director of the Rush University Cancer Center in Chicago, Illinois

Howard Kaufman, MD

In December, Howard Kaufman, MD, became the first director of the Rush University Cancer Center, which encompasses all of the cancer-related clinical, research and educational efforts at Rush. Kaufman came to Rush from Columbia University in New York City, where he was chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology and director of the Columbia Melanoma Center.

A native of Glenview, Ill., Kaufman received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and his medical degree from Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine. He completed a residency in general surgery at Boston University Medical Center Hospital/Boston Medical Center and fellowships in tumor immunology and surgical oncology at the National Cancer Institute. Rush’s Kevin McKeough interviewed Kaufman recently about his plans for the future and the Rush University Cancer Center.

What are your responsibilities as director of the Rush University Cancer Center?

My goal is to develop a strategic vision for where we’re going, to bring people together and to align the research, clinical and educational missions as they pertain to cancer. In many institutions the cancer center coordinates the research activity, and there’s a service line that coordinates the clinical care, and they’re not always in alignment. One of the big advantages at Rush is that we are now aligning the two to make sure our clinical programs are developing in concert with our research programs. I have direct oversight of both of these functions. Continue reading

Video: Rush’s Cancer Integrative Medicine Program

By Angela Johnson

In early June 2010, we were contacted by the Web managing editor at Rush about a great opportunity to create a video to educate people about the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program. For a few days, graduate students from the Medill School of Journalism set up shop in the office, creatively utilized our small office spaces, and interviewed staff and patients to learn first-hand what the program was all about. After some helpful feedback and edits, we now have a great story to share — on YouTube! Our team was grateful for this opportunity, and we thank our patients who donated their time to share their stories.

What we learned in this process is that patients are truly interested in sharing their stories. They want other people, who are going through their own journey with cancer or other chronic illnesses, to know that services like ours can sometimes be the key to “carry them through” the difficulties of managing a chronic illness. It is our hope that this video provides people with a greater understanding of our program, and is a source of inspiration to know that Rush has a dedicated group of integrative medicine practitioners who are here to help carry patients through their own personal journeys with illness, and gently move them into a place of healing.

If you would like to know more about the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program, please call (312) 563-2531.

Angela Johnson, MSTOM, Dipl OM, MPH, LAc, is a nationally board-certified diplomate of Oriental medicine at Rush University Medical Center and a member of the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program staff.