Tag Archive | "Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center"

Cyclists Hit the Streets for a Wheel Good Cause—Fighting Cancer

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Cyclists Hit the Streets for a Wheel Good Cause—Fighting Cancer


By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

MIAMI, Fla. (February 8, 2015)—The pain shooting down Celia Schieffelin’s left ankle was only a minor distraction. Inspired by the courageous battle her mother fought but ultimately lost against cancer, the 19-year-old University of Miami student seemed impervious to just about anything during a 25-mile bike ride from Fort Lauderdale’s Esplanade Park to Sun Life Stadium in Miami.

But Schieffelin didn’t complete the marathon-length journey to shine a spotlight on herself. “It’s about the cause,” she said.

Schieffelin was one of the more than 2,700 cyclists who took to the streets February 7-8 for Dolphins Cycling Challenge V. The two-day charity event, which culminated Sunday with hundreds of cyclists riding to Sun Life Stadium, raises funds for the lifesaving treatment and research programs of UM’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Former Miami Dolphins tight end Jim “Mad Dog” Mandich helped start the fundraiser five years ago while he was battling bile duct cancer, a disease that took his life in April 2011 at the age of 62. The event, which features rides of various lengths over three counties, has raised close to $10 million since it began in 2010, with more than $3.4 million being raised for this year’s DCC.

Several UM employees and students rode as members of Team Sylvester. Schieffelin formed her own team. “We all feel very strongly and passionate about wiping out cancer, and that’s why we united to form Team Barb,” she said, referring to the group of cyclists she organized to honor her late mother, Barbara Burg, and raise funds for Sylvester’s research initiatives.

On Sunday, Schieffelin crossed the finish line about two hours after she departed Fort Lauderdale—other members of Team Barb riding alongside her or following closely behind. Wearing hot pink jerseys with the slogan “Team Barb: Family Is Forever” on the front, they included Schieffelin’s aunts and uncles, who flew in from New York to ride with her, as well as fellow UM students and a group of friends who traveled from California. Thirty-two riders strong, Team Barb has raised more than $100,000 for the cause.

It was Schieffelin’s second DCC. She rode in DCC IV in November 2013 as a freshman, completing a 13-mile ride even as her mother battled colorectal cancer that had spread to other parts of her body. The finance and management major almost missed this year’s ride, tearing two ligaments in her left ankle last semester. But the injury, while not completely healed, improved enough so that she could train on a stationary bike to prepare for the event.

Like Schieffelin, Lynette Estrada’s reason for riding hits close to home. Her teenage son, Lucas, in addition to having autism, has battled brain cancer for most of his life. “We draw strength from each other,” said Estrada. “Despite his autism, he understands why I ride. When I tell him or remind him, he answers, ‘Oh yeah!’ And he puts up both fists as if he’s fighting someone. Lucas is my biggest fan.”

Lucas came down with a persistent cough days before the DCC. So instead of riding the 72-mile “Perfect Season Ride” from West Palm Beach to Miami, as she had planned, Estrada hooked up her Specialized road bike to a trainer and pedaled for five hours inside her home on Sunday, stopping only for water breaks and to administer medication to her son.

It was Joe Natoli’s fourth Dolphins Cycling Challenge. UM’s senior vice president for business and finance and chief financial officer rode 170 miles—from Sun Life Stadium to West Palm Beach on Saturday, with the return ride on Sunday. He called Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center “a hugely important community asset.”

“It needs to be—and is on its way to being—one of the finest cancer centers in the world,” said Natoli. “The DCC, by providing significant funds for unrestricted cancer research, addresses one of the most critical needs for achieving world-class status. I’m thrilled with the growth in the DCC over its first five years, but we have just scratched the surface of its potential—and Sylvester’s potential for greatness.”

Among the other prominent riders: Stuart A. Miller, chairman of the UM Board of Trustees; Pascal J. Goldschmidt, senior vice president for medical affairs, dean of the Miller School of Medicine, and CEO of UHealth; and Stephen D. Nimer, director of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

This year’s event included a 5K run/walk, held in the early-morning hours on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium before the cyclists started to arrive.

 

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Faculty and Staff Support the U: Yoly Hernandez Peddles Her Passion for Cancer Research


Yoli.Hernandez

Yolanda “Yoly” Hernandez

As director of special projects, Yolanda “Yoly” Hernandez, is passionate about raising funds for Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Our team of experts discover, develop, and deliver the world’s most effective ways to prevent, detect, and treat cancer,” Hernandez says. “Most importantly, funds raised for Sylvester stay in South Florida, guaranteeing that the day you or a loved one may need cancer treatment, you won’t need to go very far.”

A cancer survivor who has been in remission for more than 25 years, Hernandez is also a top fundraiser for the Dolphins Cycling Challenge (DCC), the annual tri-county event held in partnership with the Miami Dolphins to raise funds for Sylvester. A virtual rider who will cheer for Team UM Sylvester and all the other cyclists during the fifth challenge February 7-8, Hernandez says the secret to her fundraising prowess is passing on her enthusiasm for the DCC to colleagues, family, friends, and grateful patients. “They understand the importance of this fundraiser and rally behind me every year.”

After earning her bachelor of arts degree, Hernandez began working at UM’s School of Medicine in 1972 as an assistant to Robert Zeppa, M.D., chair of the Department of Surgery. She then worked for the Department of Oncology, chaired by G. Zubrod, as an assistant to Dr. Nathaniel Berlin. She became development officer at Sylvester in 1992. “I’m proud to say that I’ve been with Sylvester since the first day, and I’m still here,” she says. “This is a job I do with all my heart. Every day, I talk with our faculty, our nurses, and our patients about why Sylvester is so special. Every time our researchers make a new discovery, the whole benefits from their work.”

Along with her husband, Carlos, Hernandez raised a ’Cane—their daughter Rebecca, who in 2008 earned two UM degrees, a Bachelor of Science in Motion Pictures and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. She then continued her studies at New York University and graduated with a master’s degree as a specialist in film and media restoration and archiving.

“I believe it’s important for employees to support our University,” Hernandez says. “If you feel a connection with one of our schools or programs, you can show your gratitude by making a financial contribution. Every gift makes a difference, no matter how large or small.”

Read about other faculty and staff who support the U.

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Leukemia Specialist Receives Pap Corps Endowed Professorship

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Leukemia Specialist Receives Pap Corps Endowed Professorship


Ronan T. Swords, assistant professor of medicine and director of the Leukemia Program at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, has received the Pap Corps Endowed Professorship in Leukemia. The endowment comes from The Pap Corps: Champions for Cancer Research, a volunteer organization that raises money solely for cancer research at Sylvester.

To date, The Pap Corps has donated more than $51 million to Sylvester, including this year’s record-setting $4.5 million as part of an overall pledge of $25 million to UM’s Momentum2 campaign. That makes the organization the fifth-highest University donor in overall giving.

The endowed professorship was celebrated at a ceremony at Sylvester on October 23 that was attended by leaders from the University of Miami and The Pap Corps, and several of Swords’ colleagues.

“With a focus on patient-oriented research and multidisciplinary clinical care, Dr. Swords is poised to become a leader in the field of hematologic malignancy,” said Sylvester Director Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., professor of medicine, biochemistry and molecular biology. “An endowment makes it possible for Sylvester to support extraordinarily talented physician-researchers such as Dr. Swords, who will make that next life-changing discovery.”

“Endowed professorships offer many benefits, not just to the recipients, but to the entire University community,” said UM President Donna E. Shalala. “This gives us a chance to honor our brightest stars. It is an opportunity to invest in the future, and investing in Dr. Swords’ research and clinical care is absolutely critical to creating a world-class cancer center.”

Swords, a native of Ireland, received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the National University of Ireland Galway. Following a residency in general internal medicine, he became a member of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland in 2002 and a fellow in 2011. After a fellowship in hematology, Swords became a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists in London. He came to the U.S. in 2009 for an advanced fellowship in drug development at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Swords joined Sylvester in 2012.

“An endowed professorship is one of the top accolades in a physician-scientist’s career,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School and CEO of UHealth. “This funding will surely allow Dr. Swords to take his work to the next level. His multidisciplinary approach to clinical challenges demonstrates an inventive and very curious mind that will continue to uncover and develop new strategies.”

To commemorate the occasion, Swords was presented with a plaque and a new white coat embroidered with the title of his endowed professorship. In his acceptance remarks, he thanked The Pap Corps for its support of his work, calling the endowed professorship “a great privilege and honor. The Leukemia Program now has a nucleus of really talented people in the laboratory and the clinic,” Swords said, “and it is going to be nationally and internationally competitive.”

Despite the praise for her organization’s giving, JoAnne Goldberg, President of The Pap Corps kept Sylvester’s achievements in the spotlight.

“Thank you for all that you do,” she said. “It is our pleasure to work for you.”

Nimer repaid the compliment, saying that The Pap Corps’ consistently high level of funding has enabled Sylvester’s physicians and researchers to directly impact the lives of patients.

“Because of you, we have had the funding necessary to encourage early research, open clinical trials and increase our community outreach and education,” he said. “The money you raise helps us recruit top-notch physicians and scientists, and now your support is taking us another step forward.”

Swords also acknowledged Nimer and another Sylvester colleague who was present, Joseph Rosenblatt, M.D., professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology, Chief of the Division of Hematology-Oncology in the Department of Medicine, as invaluable mentors.

“This endowment is a wonderful opportunity for me to really focus my efforts almost entirely on research,” he said. “We have a very large, diverse patient population, and this will help us get more patients into more clinical trials. It will enable us to establish large tissue banks and learn much more about the biology of the disease, which hopefully will lead to new treatments.”

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All Pinked Out: Zeta Tau Alpha Battles Breast Cancer


From a Survivors Celebration to T-shirt sales benefiting cancer research, the UM chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha kicked off Think Pink Week on the Coral Gables campus.

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (October 8, 2014) – The sisters of Zeta Tau Alpha had always organized and participated in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month activities, passing out pink ribbons, collecting yogurt lids as part of Yoplait’s Save Lids to Save Lives campaign, and donning running shoes and shorts for the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure. But this year they ramped up their efforts by bringing to the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus some of the many survivors who have conquered a disease that is the most common form of cancer in women, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Teaming up with Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, the UM chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha hosted a Survivors Celebration Tuesday as part of its Think Pink Week of activities. Wearing T-shirts that read “Think Pink,” survivors joined ZTA sisters on the Foote Green to form a human pink ribbon, the international symbol of breast cancer awareness.

“We have so many sisters who have been directly impacted by this disease,” said Laura Zebib, director of philanthropy for the UM chapter of the women’s fraternity that has made breast cancer awareness its key focus. “Education is really the key to prevention, especially in young women.”

To that end, breast cancer survivors Lainey Kieffer, a UM family nurse practitioner, and author Paula Holland Delong spoke, respectively, about early diagnosis in college-age women and life after breast cancer.

As part of ZTA’s Think Pink Week, the fraternity also spearheaded efforts to turn UM into a pinked-out campus with the Coral Gables campus’s iconic fountains illuminated in pink, tree trunks festooned with pink ribbons, and pink-lit signage—all of which will remain through October.

In addition, ZTA is selling T-shirts and $20 tickets to the October 21 Miami Heat game against the Houston Rockets, with proceeds benefiting breast cancer research and education through the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation.

 

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Breast Cancer Foundation Funds UM Study on Managing Stress


By Annette Gallagher
UM News

The two-year study will focus on immune system functioning following a five-week cognitive behavioral or relaxation training program.

Coral Gables, Fla. (July 7, 2014) – Can psychological intervention help women adapt to the stresses of breast cancer? It appears that a brief, five-week psychological intervention can have beneficial effects for women who are dealing with the stresses of breast cancer diagnosis and surgery. Intervening during the early period after surgery may reduce women’s distress, and providing cognitive or relaxation skills for stress management may help them adapt to treatment.

UM researchers found that women who received cognitive behavioral or relaxation training reported greater improvements in mood than women in a health education control group that also lasted five weeks. Women in the cognitive behavioral group also reported reduced breast cancer-specific distress, as well as improved emotional well-being, while women in the relaxation group reported reduced disruptions in social activities.

The next step in that research, which will be funded by the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation for a two-year period, is to identify the cellular and molecular changes that could explain these effects, according to Michael Antoni, professor in the Department of Psychology at the College of Arts and Sciences and co-leader of the Cancer Prevention Control and Survivorship program at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. The grant will support Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami.

Antoni’s team hopes to show that the five-week program produces the same changes in stress hormone levels and measures of immune function and inflammatory processes over an extended follow-up period that have been seen in patients who participated in longer programs, typically from 10 weeks to 12 months. Indicators of psychological and physiological well-being may provide a pathway through which these interventions could improve quality of life and health outcomes over the long-term survivorship period, with positive effects seen as much as five years later.

The study, co-led by Bonnie Blomberg, professor of microbiology and immunology at Sylvester, will measure the changes in cortisol levels, check immune responses in cells, and look for decreased inflammation at the RNA level in cells. The new grant research, which began July 1, focuses on the women who show the most elevated levels of distress in the weeks after breast cancer surgery.

“The hope is that these psychoneuroimmunologic (PNI) effects will show us clearly how therapies like relaxation therapy can affect immune system regulation,” Antoni said.  “Does effective stress management reduce cortisol levels, increase immune function, and decrease inflammation early in the course of women’s treatment for breast cancer? We expect that women who show the greatest reductions in distress will also show the greatest reductions in inflammatory signaling and the greatest improvements in immune cell functioning over their first year of treatment.”

“We know stress management is effective in a 10-week program, and women who only attended half the sessions had the same benefits, so we are testing the idea that five weeks might be enough time,” he said. “The 10-week program also helped us focus on the most important things patients need to learn: being able to relax when needed and being able to cognitively process their emotions. We think we can achieve that in less than 10 weeks by using very focused interventions, and that will be more practical in a clinical setting.”

“Drs. Antoni and Blomberg’s project was evaluated and scored by a panel of both researchers and laypersons who are advocates for breast cancer research,” said Russell Silverman, executive director of the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation. “It was recommended to our committee with great enthusiasm, and we feel that this work will have a positive impact on the future of breast cancer treatment.”

Annette Gallagher can be reached at 305-284-1121.

 

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