Recognizing the important role oncology practitioners and patient support groups play in the lives of those fighting cancer, Elekta, provider of radiation therapy technology to treat cancer, honored select individuals with the Arizona Cancer Heroes Award on March 23, 2011 at the Ritz-Carlton in Phoenix. Recipients were chosen after a three-month call for nominations in which residents of Phoenix and the surrounding areas were encouraged to nominate individuals they felt provided heroic support to them throughout their cancer journey.
During the ceremony, grants were awarded to several local non-profit organizations for their support of cancer patients. Lauren Daniels accepted on behalf of her organization, Happily Ever After League (HEAL). Founded in 2004 in response to Lauren’s personal cancer experience, HEAL provides financial support to Arizona mothers recovering from cancer by helping to pay for rent, utilities, medical bills and groceries. The organization opened HEALing House, which offers social support and outreach and includes a small food bank, in 2007 for the cancer patients and their families.
“Lauren and her Board of Directors set a goal to never turn away a mom in need and in the past six years the organization has kept this goal,” reports Sean Daniels, HEAL Board Member. “Nearly 500 mothers struggling with the rigors of cancer have been helped through Lauren’s vision and commitment.”
After losing best friend Michelle Singleton to cancer, Jody Berens dedicated herself to bringing hope, help and support to single parents with cancer. With operations in the Phoenix metro area – and expanding soon to Flagstaff – Jody’s organization, Singleton Moms, offers programs such as Michelle’s Kitchen, Michelle’s Pockets, Michelle’s Clean-up Crew, and more, that provide emotional, financial and domestic support to single parents undergoing cancer treatment. Singleton Moms has helped more than 100 families since its 2006 inception, some of whom have remained with the group as volunteers.
The Children’s Cancer Network was initiated by the Luttrell family to help children and families dealing with childhood cancer by providing financial and cancer-education support, as well as sponsoring events and activities designed to build patient, sibling, and parental self esteem. Patti Lutrell received a Heroes nomination for her tireless leadership of CCN volunteers in the execution of programs and to raise funds for children and their families. “Some heroes come to light because of a single act and others by quietly living their daily life in the service of others. The latter best describes my hero – Patti Luttrell,” opened Patti’s nomination.
Additional recipients of the Arizona Cancer Heroes Award include:
- Dr. Aaron Ambrad, Radiation Oncologist, Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers, for clinical expertise delivered with empathy, respect and humor in a way that gives his patients hope
- Dr. Linda Benaderet, Medical Oncologist, U.S. Oncology, for her whole-patient treatment approach to help her cancer patients live with joy and honor
- Dr. Mike Janicek, Surgeon, Arizona Oncology Scottsdale, for outstanding surgical skills and exceeding patient expectations with compassionate self-extension
- Eileen Gibbs, Oncology Nurse, St. Joseph’s Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center, for her commitment to customer service as well as patient care
- Angela Mercado, Medical Assistant, Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers, for reaching beyond duty to positively interface with patients in multiple capacities
- Anne Corssen, CRNA, for her inspirational creative work helping Arizona adults, children and families deal with all stages of cancer
Special recognition was also given a unique nominee, Willie, a Portuguese Water Dog. Willie and his handler, Marsha Goodman, are volunteers with Pets on Wheels of Scottsdale, a pet-visitation therapy program serving some 22 health care centers in Scottsdale. “…what makes [Willie] a hero is his ability to lift the spirits of the staff and patients,” read Willie’s nomination.
“Elekta is proud to honor the oncology practitioners who exemplify the commitment, dedication and skill that dramatically impact the experience of cancer patients and their loved ones as they fight to overcome perhaps the greatest challenge of their lives,” says Jay Hoey, Executive Vice President of Elekta North America.
More information on the Arizona Cancer Heroes program may be found at www.azcancerheroes.com.