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2010 Lane Adams Quality of Life Award Recipients

Stefan Balan, MD
Chief of Hematology and Oncology, White River Junction VA Medical Center,
White River Junction, VT
Dr. Balan is beloved by his patients and their families, as well as his colleagues, for his unique gifts as a medical oncologist and his tireless efforts to provide the highest quality of life for his patients. Says the wife of one former patient, “[Dr. Balan] kept us ‘whole.’ At each treatment, he took time to hear our concerns and address our fears … We never felt we were alone in our treatment or home care.”

Dr. Balan is also an advocate for the mental health needs of his patients. Knowing that many people are uncomfortable going to the mental health department for assistance, he has secured outpatient consults and convinced the chief of mental health at the medical center to have a psychiatrist and psychologist actively involved in the oncology service. In addition, he co-leads discussion and support groups in the chemo suite. Working with the American Cancer Society, Dr. Balan also created a resource center for patients so they have better access to information about their disease.

Linda Bulone, RN, OCN, CCRC
Clinical Trials Manager, Queens Cancer Center of Queens Hospital, Queens, NY
Whether she is making presentations to community groups about prevention and early detection on behalf of the American Cancer Society or counseling underserved patients about clinical trials, Linda Bulone is helping people stay well and get well from cancer every day. To reassure patients that they have an advocate and supporter in the hospital, Linda gives all her patients her cell phone number, encouraging them to call when they have questions or need assistance. She spends hours explaining clinical trials and treatment options to patients and their families. As a result, enrollment in clinical trials has increased four-fold since Linda began working at the cancer center in 2004.

A colleague reports, “Following a clinical trial drug schedule can be very demanding and overwhelming for many of our patients. Linda goes the extra mile to ensure these patients receive the best care and services so they do not fall between the cracks of treatment and services.”

Gwen Carriere, ARNP, CHPN
Cancer Program Coordinator, North Florida Regional Medical Center, Gainesville, FL
As the cancer program coordinator for the North Florida Regional Medical Center in Gainesville, Florida, Gwen Carriere coordinates relationships between cancer patients, their treating physicians, the hospital, the community, and patient resource groups. Outside of the hospital setting, Gwen’s passion to ensure that everyone in her community is aware of how they can stay well by reducing their cancer risk or detecting it early takes her everywhere from working with homeless women at a free clinic in downtown Gainesville to addressing large workplace groups and women’s clubs out in the area’s rural farm communities. Gwen was also instrumental in establishing a cancer resource center in the hospital’s new cancer center, designed to make the hospital cancer experience as positive as possible.

A personal friend who was diagnosed with cancer noted, “Through her frank but compassionate counsel about end of life issues, I was enabled to process many aspects of end of life care, which later led to discussions of these issues with my family members.”

Roger Crawford
Director, Radiation Oncology, OSF St Francis Hospital, Peoria, IL
Some hospital directors spend their days working behind closed doors. Not Roger Crawford. More times than not, you’ll find this hands-on director of radiation oncology working at the nurse’s station at OSF Saint Francis Hospital in Peoria, Illinois. Roger ensures his staff is well versed on the latest cancer-related topics, research, and education so they can provide the best possible care to cancer patients, their families, and caretakers. He’s also known for staying late to accommodate a patient’s schedule or taking someone home from treatments. Roger also helps people stay well through the early detection and prevention seminars he presents in the community. Those talks have grown to include the South Side Mission, a rescue ministry helping Peoria’s poor and homeless, where he talks to clients about cancer and making healthy lifestyle choices.

Says a prostate cancer survivor and former patient, “Roger was very compassionate, intelligent, and supportive. He took me from being scared for my life to being absolutely confident that I was going to receive the best possible care and treatment.”

Pam G. Hodges, BSN, MSN
Clinician, North Mississippi Medical Center, Tupelo, MS
Pam Hodges shows her care and compassion for cancer patients and their families each day at the North Mississippi Medical Center. Says the wife of a former patient, “Pam was always conscious of making our needs her priority and went the extra mile to make sure we were as comfortable as possible without any needs or wants.”

Colleagues say nothing brings Pam greater joy or brings out her nurturing side more than when she’s training new oncology nurses at the hospital. And Pam’s caring and compassionate nature is never more evident than when she counsels patients and their families about end-of-life care. She was the first in her hospital to become a certified hospice and palliative care nurse and she has used her skills to train others through the National Cancer Institute-funded End of Life Nursing Care Consortium.

Says one coworker: “Pam is there, arms open, willing to help. For her, the patients always come first.”

Sister Rita J. Jarrell, OSU, MA, BCC
Hospice Chaplain, Hosparus, Louisville, KY
Sister Rita is an advocate for the underserved, taking on the most difficult cases to ensure that breast cancer patients with special needs are not forgotten and have the support they need to get well. As an area and state trainer for the patient assistance program, she also passes on her nurturing and supportive approach to new volunteers. In addition to her efforts on behalf of cancer patients and their families, Sister Rita helps people affected by natural disasters or other critical situations through her service to the Kentucky Crisis Response Team.

Concludes one coworker, “Sister Rita is the Mother Teresa for cancer patients in our area.” Says another, “She brings hope to Kentucky cancer patients. I can’t even begin to count the number of lives she’s impacted.”

Frederick J. Meyers, MD, MACP
Executive Associate Dean, University of California-Davis, Sacramento, CA
Dr. Frederick Meyers has become a nationally respected leader and expert in the area of hematology and oncology and a specialist in metastatic cancer and end-of-life care and pain management. At the University of California-Davis, he has established innovative educational programs that are now models for compassionate end-of-life care at the national level. He strives to provide his residents, fellows, and other colleagues the opportunity to view the cancer experience through the perspective of patients and their loved ones.

A patient’s daughter says, “My mother was 90 years old when she died. The cancer treatment provided by Dr. Meyers was the best anyone could ask for or expect. I always felt that given her advanced age, her care was just as important to him as that of any patient, no matter the age. Every effort was given to grant her as much time with my father, who preceded her in death, and to make her quality of life as good as it could be.”

Ahmed Nadeem, MD
Medical Director, Outpatient Infusion Cancer Center, Woonsocket, RI
Dr. Ahmed Nadeem encourages his staff at the Landmark Medical Center to truly care for their patients – and he sets quite an example by making sure patients and their families have the highest level of care and attention. His oncology nurse manager of eight years says, “Of course his goal is to treat the cancer, but he does so in consideration of the whole person.”

It’s not unusual to hear about a doctor unwinding with a game of golf, but Dr. Nadeem surprised one patient one day by picking him up and taking him along with him. The patient had been an avid golfer but was becoming depressed regarding his prognosis and had stopped playing. Says a colleague, “The care he provided on that day was not a cure for cancer and was not reimbursed by insurance, but it was exactly what the patient needed – and Dr. Nadeem has a special gift that enabled him to know that.”

Peg Nelson, MSN, APRN, ACHPN
Director, Pain and Palliative Care Service, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital, Pontiac, MI
Peg Nelson is known as an expert in hospice and end-of-life care, and a compassionate caretaker who is able to establish an immediate rapport with patients and families to help them find and express their needs. Peg shares her expertise at the hospital and other organizations through inspiring hospice and palliative care seminars and her No One Dies Alone program. In her own special way, Peg helps caretakers feel more comfortable with the end-of-life process so that they can provide patients and families the support they need at a very difficult time in their lives.

In a personal thank-you letter to Peg, a patient’s husband thanked Peg for being gentle with his wife, and wishing for her as much peace, comfort, and joy as she could experience. He ended his letter by quoting Socrates: “Death is the stranger we all must one day meet.” Thanks to Peg, he wrote, his wife “did not meet that stranger alone, but with you and her family at her side.”

Julissa Rios
Case Manager, Westside Community Health Services – La Clinica, St. Paul, MN
Facing cancer is tough for anyone, but for someone also facing cultural or language barriers, understanding the disease and getting the care they need can be a lonely and frustrating situation. Julissa Rios helps educate and connect women in the Latina community to breast and cervical cancer screening services and ensures that they receive necessary medical follow-up. She led the charge to establish a support group for Latina women facing cancer, La Nueva Esperanza – the New Hope.

A colleague recounts the story of Rosa, a young single mother who arrived at Julissa’s clinic to see a doctor about a lump in her breast. Julissa accompanied her to a local hospital for an ultrasound and subsequent biopsy, and was there to console Rosa as she received the devastating news that she had breast cancer and would not be able to breastfeed her 9-month-old child. Julissa connected Rosa with resources in the community, and helped her find child care during treatment. Rosa did not have insurance, so Julissa worked with doctors at the Westside clinic to write a letter appealing for emergency medical coverage so that the woman could get the treatment needed to save her life.