Tag Archive | "Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center"

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Inspired by Sight-Restoring Surgery, Patient Access Director Becomes Culture Coach


Natacha Caballero

A decade ago, Natacha Caballero, director of patient access at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, came to the University of Miami as a temporary employee looking for an opportunity. Today, in addition to her duties at Sylvester, she volunteers as a culture coach through the Building a Better U Together initiative. As a culture coach, Caballero and a Disney consultant co-facilitate training sessions to teach faculty and staff about our common purpose, values, leadership traits, and service standards. In this issue of DIRECCT Talk, Caballero shares what makes her tick.

Share a moment in your career when you realized the reach and impact of the University.

Years ago, while working at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, I was able to witness a breakthrough discovery by Dr. Victor Perez, a cornea specialist. He used a blind woman’s tooth to restore her vision. After failed cornea transplant surgeries, Dr. Perez and other UM physicians successfully restored her vision after nine years. How incredible was this!!! I knew then I was working for an organization that was transforming lives even before the new common purpose was rolled out.

Share a moment when you felt most proud of working for UM.

I was part of The Essential’s of Leadership pilot program last year and was able to see how much dedication the U put forth to developing its leaders. I felt proud of working for UM because in the 10 years I have been here, I have seen many changes come and go and I have been a firm believer that one day we would get to this place and have programs like these to provide our leaders with the tools they need to do their jobs successfully. Earlier this year, I graduated from the program and even President Shalala attended the ceremony. That was a BIG deal! I was in awe of how much time and effort went into coordinating this event. I proudly posted my pictures on social media, and I was filled with pride to be a part of such an incredible organization. I decided at that moment I wanted to be an advocate for this change by becoming a culture coach. As a coach, I am able to not only promote new changes coming to the University but to be a driving force living the change and encouraging other members of the U to embrace it with optimism and positivity.

Share a story of a patient, student, colleague, or leader who has positively impacted your life.

There is only one person who comes to mind when I think about this question. I have worked with her for eight years after she recruited me to Patient Access. Kassandra Lage, my current executive director, has consistently demonstrated a positive attitude and acted as a role model throughout all these years. She not only exhibits enthusiasm in this field, she values ongoing learning and growth. Her approachability and ability to listen have been key in my development as I feel I can always count on her no matter how difficult the situation may be. In addition, she shares her knowledge and motivates me to teach and guide others as well.

Tell us why you chose UM, and why you choose to continue your career here.

The U has seen me grow professionally and mature as a leader. I started working here 10 years ago as a temporary employee and I am incredibly proud and honored to work in a place where growth is valued and possible. I choose to continue working here because I want to be part of the successes of our organization and continue to push it towards future growth and culture transformation.

DIRECCT Talk focuses on the ways faculty and staff exemplify the DIRECCT values—diversity, integrity, respect, excellence, compassion, creativity, and teamwork—that drive UM’s culture.


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DCC With Me: UM Cyclist Loves the ‘Amazing Feeling’ of Crossing the Finish Line

Special to UM News

Lisa Siegel

Lisa Siegel

Lisa Siegel says cycling across the finish line at the Dolphins Cancer Challenge is an amazing feeling. “When I get off my bike, cancer patients and survivors come up and hug me with tears in their eyes, thanking us for our support,” says Siegel. “If you are a University employee, I urge you to help our community by raising funds for our Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and DCC with me!”

A grants accountant with the Office of Research Administration, Siegel is passionate about helping people with cancer. For the past four years, she has ridden her bicycle in honor of her grandmother, who died from the disease, and her aunt, who is a cancer survivor. “Cancer affects everyone, and our researchers at Sylvester are making tremendous strides,” she says.

A native of Miami, Siegel grew up in a loyal Hurricanes family. Her father, Marvin, began working at the University in 1961 and led the UM United Way campaign for many years. Her brother, Scott, and sister, Aimee, are also University employees and will be joining Lisa and her co-workers on Team Hurricanes in the DCC on Saturday, February 20 at Sun Life Stadium.

At the sixth annual DCC, Siegel plans to complete a 72-mile ride in honor of the Dolphins’ 1972 perfect season. Other options include different cycling routes, a 5K walk and run, and participating as a “virtual rider.” All funds raised by the DCC support Sylvester’s cancer research.

A longtime fan of the ’Canes and the Miami Dolphins, Siegel lets everyone know she’s a proud supporter of the DCC. “I talk to people on campus, on the phone, and online and let them know the importance of supporting our cancer research,” she says. “Every Friday I wear a Dolphins or Sylvester jersey to create more awareness of this great event. I encourage our employees to sign up for the DCC and reach out to others. You will be surprised by the generosity of your family, friends, and co-workers. All you have to do is ask!”

To learn more, please visit Dolphins Cancer Challenge.

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DCC Funds at Work: Sylvester Researcher Makes Progress against Childhood Leukemia

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DCC Funds at Work: Sylvester Researcher Makes Progress against Childhood Leukemia

Special to UM News

Julio Barredo

Supported by DCC funds, Julio Barredo is trying to figure out why some children do not respond to usually effective treatment for leukemia.

Why do some children with leukemia respond well to treatment while others do not?

Noted cancer researcher Julio Barredo, M.D., professor and Toppel Family Chair in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, is making progress in finding an answer to that life-and-death question.

“Today, we can cure more than 80 percent of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia,” says Barredo. “By studying why treatments fail and why some patients relapse, our goal is to find strategies to save their lives.”

Barredo’s groundbreaking research is supported by funds raised by the Dolphins Cancer Challenge (DCC), which will be held on February 20, at Sun Life Stadium. The sixth annual DCC includes opportunities to ride, run, walk or be a virtual participant, with all funds going to Sylvester.

“Our work to understand childhood leukemia would be very difficult to do without the financial support from the DCC,” says Barredo, adding that 20 percent of funds raised each year is allocated for pediatric cancer research. “So far, we have received about $2 million in funding from the DCC.”

Currently, Barredo is focusing his research on how to block cancer cells from receiving the nutrients and energy they need to grow and multiply. His studies led to a recent clinical trial at Sylvester using Metformin, a diabetes drug that prevents cancer cells from processing and discarding their abnormal proteins, leading to cell death.

Working closely with Ronan Swords, M.D., Ph.D., the Pap Corps Endowed Professor in Leukemia and the leader of the adult leukemia program at Sylvester, Barredo discovered that pevonedistat, a compound tested in clinical trials for adult patients with acute myeloid leukemia, is also effective in fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children.

“At Sylvester, we take a collaborative approach to leukemia research, and share our findings through an international consortium,” says Barredo. “Our goal is to translate our laboratory findings into new leukemia treatments for children and adults as rapidly as possible.”

To learn more about the DCC, visit www.TeamHurricanes.org and watch the “DCC with Me” video.

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Compassion Guides Patients’ Cancer Journey

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Compassion Guides Patients’ Cancer Journey

Karen Henry

Karen Scanlon Henry

As a hematology-oncology nurse at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at Kendall, Karen Scanlon Henry touches people’s lives every day. “It is very rewarding for me to be able to help patients at one of the most vulnerable points of their lives, and guide them and their family members through their cancer journey.”

In her daily work, Henry says she focuses on the University of Miami Common Values of excellence, compassion, and teamwork. “At Sylvester, we deliver the highest level of care to cancer patients in a very compassionate way,” she says. “We also have a great team that goes above and beyond the call of duty to provide support to our patients and families. We educate them about their options and make sure they are well informed every step of the way.”

Since joining the Miller School of Medicine in 2002, Henry has worked in radiation oncology as well as medical oncology. In her current role, she helps train student nurse practitioners and has developed an Oral Chemotherapy Adherence Clinic. “Along with caring for patients, we are a revenue-producing department that supports other functions at UM, such as medical research,” she says.

A native of Miami, Henry grew up in Coral Gables in a ‘Canes family, going to UM football games every fall. “My dad went to the University of Miami and my mom worked at the law library,” says Henry, who earned her B.S. in nursing from UM in 1983 and her M.S. in nursing in 2004. Her son Erik is a senior engineering student at UM as well. “I’m one of those people who bleed orange and green,” she says.

Henry says she loves nursing because she can help patients and families in so many ways, while growing and developing as a health care professional. “I started at Jackson Memorial Hospital as a labor and delivery nurse,” she says. “Since then, I’ve been a school nurse, a pediatrics nurse, and a nurse manager, as well as working in oncology-hematology.”

Reflecting on her current role, Henry says she’s inspired each day by her patients, particularly those with terminal cancer. “Not everyone with cancer gets better, so we try to make each day of their journey as meaningful as possible for them,” she says. “With our team, they know they’re not alone.”

DIRECCT Talk focuses on the ways faculty and staff exemplify the DIRECCT values—diversity, integrity, respect, excellence, compassion, creativity, and teamwork—that drive UM’s culture.


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Take It from a Pro: The DCC Is a Great Reason to Start a Fitness Program

Special to UM News

Riding, running, or walking in the Dolphins Cancer Challenge (DCC) on Saturday, February 20, is a great way to improve your personal fitness, while raising funds to support research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Tony Musto

Tony Musto

“A big event like the DCC is a great reason to start a fitness program,” says Tony Musto, director of fitness programs in the Department of Recreation and Wellness. “Whatever your current condition, there is plenty of time to get in shape for the DCC.”

Musto has some training and nutrition tips for UM faculty, staff, family and friends who plan to participate in the sixth annual DCC by biking to Sun Life Stadium on one of several routes, joining the 5K walk/run, or being a “virtual rider.” All funds raised by the DCC support Sylvester’s cancer research.

“If you haven’t been physically active for a while, you should start small,” Musto says. “You might cycle for two or three miles and then gradually go for longer rides each week. The same principle applies if you plan to walk or run at the DCC.”

Having a “training buddy” can also help you stay with your fitness plan, and you can encourage each other to prepare for the DCC, Musto says.

Cyclists taking part in the 72-mile “Perfect Season” ride in honor of the undefeated Dolphins team should vary the distance and intensity of their training rides, says Musto. “Riding hard for a shorter time can strengthen your cardiovascular system, while the longer rides build your endurance. Cross-training by walking or jogging during a week is also a good idea.”

Getting ready for the DCC can provide a reason for eating a healthier diet and losing weight. But Musto cautions against cutting way back on the calories at the same time you increase your physical activity. “Take a healthy, but balanced approach to your diet,” he says. For instance, it’s a good idea to “fuel up” with a small carbohydrate meal before a training session, and have a snack followed by a high-carbohydrate meal an hour or two afterwards.

“Taking part in the DCC is a great incentive for improving your personal fitness,” says Musto. “Get moving, stay active, and be patient, and you will see and feel the results!”

To learn more, please visit Dolphins Cancer Challenge.


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