2012 Lane Adams Quality of Life Award Recipients
Denise Braden, OTRL, CLT-LANA
Certified Lymphedema Therapist, Mercy Memorial Hospital Rehabilitation Center, Monroe, Michigan
As an occupational therapist and certified lymphedema therapist, Denise Braden has worked with cancer patients since 1996 in her hometown of Monroe, Michigan. She found her calling while attending a medical conference in Chicago where she learned that mastectomy patients often experienced shoulder mobility limitations.
For the next 16 years, Denise Braden has worked with countless patients at Mercy Memorial Hospital Rehabilitation Center in Monroe. About thirty percent of her patients in this rural, blue-collar town have lymphedema after cancer treatment. Many of her patients and their family members express their appreciation for the dedication and compassion that Denise Braden shows. One man whose wife spent seven years fighting lymphoma noted Denise Braden’s gentleness and her willingness to treat his wife at home when she was in too much pain to leave the house. “Most of all, I think that we had a friend caring for us,” he said.
Dr. Jose A. Cangiano-Lespier
Hematologist Oncologist, Private Practice, Ponce, Puerto Rico
Working with patients, Dr. Cangiano realized the importance of connecting with the patient as a human being, caring for the whole person and not just the disease. Returning to his hometown of Ponce in 2004, he developed a private practice devoted to educating patients about early detection and prevention, as well as providing care. Along with his wife Limaris Laboy, a fellow physician, Dr. Cangiano established the De Cara a la Vida Foundation in 2010 to raise funds to help cancer patients in his community afford care.
One woman who visited Dr. Cangiano’s office for treatment for ovarian cancer described his positive energy and compassion for his patients. “You feel that he knows what you are feeling and has the remedy for it. No matter what, he knows what you feel, how scared you are…he received my family and me with all the love and understanding a human being can give another, and answered each and every one of the questions we had,” she said. Colleagues describe his dynamic energy and his skill at creating innovative projects to help patients and educate the community. As one colleague describes, “Dr. Cangiano with his hands does not only touch the body, but the spirit of his patients by injecting hope, positivity, and zest for life.”
Frannie Beth Concaugh, RN
Registered Nurse, Tampa General Hospital, Tampa, Florida
“You can often find Frannie Beth Concaugh sitting on a patient’s bed holding their hand to ease that pill down, or to listen to their story,” one of her fellow nurses observed. She also recalls the time Frannie Beth quietly found a pair of shoes for a homeless patient who did not have any to wear when he left the hospital. “He was able to walk proudly out of the hospital recovered and able to go on for miles. Frannie Beth was the angel that made those shoes appear.”
Frannie Beth senses her patients’ fears and makes a personal connection to ease their tension. One young woman, after going through chemotherapy, told Frannie Beth that she worried about not being able to conceive. She told her how she cried every time she saw a baby or even baby clothes. Frannie Beth sat with the woman and shared her own personal story. “After I left that day, I cried all the way home because I felt at peace,” the patient said. “I felt as if an angel was sent to help me believe that it is OK to have another path.”
Cancer Concierge and Hospice Volunteer, Emanuel Cancer Center, Turlock, California
Nancy Daley was asked to tutor a young girl with leukemia at her California home. Seeing 6-year-old Jessica’s positive attitude despite chemotherapy and stem cell transplant the teacher decided to change careers and embarked on a journey of hope. leaving her classroom to develop a program for children undergoing cancer treatment. She’d blend art, games, music, and stories in a program that would, as Ms. Daley recalls, “overflow with passion for living life to the fullest,” as young Jessica did. She wanted to help people embrace living during the most trying times. Her first step was to take a job as a concierge at local Emanuel Cancer Center, working with patients of all ages, languages and backgrounds.
For families dealing with cancer, she launched Monkey Business, an eight-week support group for kids 5-13 to help them cope the disruption of treatment. “Cancer can interrupt dinners at home,” Nancy Daley says. “We model routine dinners together with ways to discuss their fears and feelings.” Because of her success with Monkey Business, Emanuel Cancer Center is launching Jessica’s House, a place for children to find support during times of grief and loss for a parent or loved one.
Susan R. Glaser, LCSW
Senior Clinical Social Worker, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, New York
Susan Glaser works primarily with breast cancer patients at the busy treatment center. She addresses the needs of the whole patient, recognizing that emotional recovery is a key part of total recovery. Glaser uses meditation, sex therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy as well as simple compassion when working with her patients.
Women terrified by the threat of their condition draw strength from Ms. Glaser’s caring attention. As one woman treated for Stage IV breast cancer recalls, “Susan Glaser completely changed my life. She worked tirelessly with me on relaxation techniques and visualization techniques to help me get through the treatment sessions….She was always available and would stop in to get me started until I was able to do it on my own.”
Warner K. Huh, MD
Chair, OB/GYN Oncology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
After he performed surgery on a woman, Dr. Huh approached her family members to explain the procedure, the prognosis, and to give them his cellphone number. “To this day, I have never heard of a doctor – specifically a cancer surgeon – doing that,” the woman’s daughter recalls. “His bedside manner, not just with my mom, but with us, amazed us. It was like we were talking to a friend. I remember walking out of the waiting room, confident we could fight this foe, all because he was leading us through it.”
Compassion for his patients’ quality of life is as important to Dr. Warner Huh as technical expertise in removing a tumor. He works tirelessly to reach out to families whose loved ones are in his care, anticipating their concerns and challenges. When he treated a young mother with cervical cancer who lived in Dothan, 200 miles from Birmingham, Dr. Huh arranged for her to receive radiation and chemotherapy in her hometown instead. Even when he’s traveling, Dr. Huh stops everything to talk to those in his care, recalls the family member of one patient. “I will never forget that he took the time out of his busy schedule, in an airport across the country, to tell us what was on those tests and ease our fears.”
Tricia Julian, RN, BSN, OCN
Oncology Education Coordinator, Fairmont General Hospital, Fairmont, West Virginia
One woman met Tricia Julian when her husband came to Fairmont for colon cancer treatment, and then she returned when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Julian spent time with her during her husband’s treatment, then accompanied her through her double mastectomy, treatment and reconstruction surgery. “I will never forget Trish’s help…Trish is an asset to her profession and to the hospital. We are all lucky to have her.”
Ensuring her patients’ quality of life is a high priority for Julian, who helped create Fairmonth’s palliative care program. She often intervenes to help patients in pain get fast treatment. In addition, she wants to educate more people about prevention. She teaches classes on smoking cessation all over her community. Though she works in a small hospital in a small town, Julian knows that one person can have a big impact on people’s lives, even in the most difficult moments.
Eric S. Sandler, MD
Division Chief, Hematology and Oncology, Nemours Children’s Hospital, Jacksonville, Florida
As Chief of the Pediatric Hematology Oncology Division at Nemours Children’s Clinic, Dr. Sandler is a strong proponent of not only curing children’s cancer, but preventing long-term side effects, controlling pain, and keeping their young lives as normal as possible during treatment. When Dr. Sandler treated a 12-year-old boy named Jonathan for leukemia in 2010, his family appreciated his calm and caring attention. “Far too many medical professionals fail to understand the significance of how and what they say to patients and their families,” said Jonathan’s father. “But not Eric. Time and again he said exactly what we needed to hear to get us through a crisis or moment of despair.” One night, Jonathan went into life-threatening sepsis. Although it was the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, and Dr. Sandler was not on call, he left the prayer service and went straight to the hospital to be with the family.
After Jonathan lost his fight with leukemia, Dr. Sandler chose to honor his memory by undertaking a medical mission to Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia. Jonathan had seen a TV documentary about the distant Asian country and had wanted to visit it someday. Dr. Sandler took the journey for him. Closer to home, he participates in children’s cancer camps and weekend retreats for families affected by the disease, and dedicates his energy to making kids feel better so they can lead happier lives.
Gloria “Lita” Smith, MS, RN, ACNP
Nurse Practitioner, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan
One of her patients said of Lita Smith: “She wouldn’t see herself as extraordinary, but she is. With every test and scan, she gives it to me straight up, but with warmth and genuine concern. She is my fearless leader in this fight. I feel very strongly that she is on my side helping me to get better and heal and survive.”
To spread her philosophy of compassionate care for the whole patient, Ms. Smith lectures in the field about breast cancer treatment. She also strongly believes in the role of nurse practitioners in patient care, and trains young NPs to enter the field. Smith’s colleagues say that she reminds them that even after a long day in the clinic, every patient you see deserves that same level of personal care and attention. Each and every one.
Angela Plette Taber, MD
Medical Oncologist, Lifespan – The Miriam Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island
As a medical oncologist at Lifespan – The Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, Dr. Taber specializes in treating lung cancer patients. In recent years, she became interested in palliative care as well, focusing on the treating the pain and emotional anguish of her patients. and helped establish a multidisciplinary clinic for patients with lung cancer, so they can see a variety of specialists under one roof and not have to travel from office to office.
Families appreciate both her honesty and her understanding. One woman recalls her husband asking Dr. Taber if he might be able to leave the hospital to attend a special charity event where he was invited speak about his 41 years of sobriety. Dr. Taber said the man, who had lung cancer and was very ill, could leave his bed to attend, but only if she went as his guest. They went to the dinner together to share his proud moment. As his wife recalls, “We sat back and knew how lucky we were to have a doctor like Dr. Taber caring for our loved one. I can’t imagine another doctor doing something like this for their patient.
Valarie C. Worthy, RN, BSN
Treatment Navigator, Duke Cancer Institute, Durham, North Carolina
Tireless in her efforts to help women prevent, detect or fight breast cancer, Valarie Worthy’s
work gives her unique insight into the challenges that many African-American women face in getting solid information about breast cancer prevention, detection, and treatment. Her own experience with the disease thirteen years ago, inspired her to do even more. This intense experience inspired her to reach out to other African-American breast cancer survivors by co-founding a local chapter of the Sister’s Network. Through the network, Ms. Worthy offers emotional support and education to fellow survivors, and also takes to the streets once a year to hand out information to African-American women on the importance of screening and early detection.
As one of those patients recalls:“Valarie told me of things to expect during my treatments that only someone who had been there could”. Even as I started to fall into depression and seclude myself, she would continue to call and touch base with me, and letting me know she was there to talk if I needed it.” For Valarie Worthy, no effort is too great to ensure that one more woman survives this disease, and does so with dignity.