Cancer survivors honored, supported at Kaiser event
on October 27, 2014
Cancer survivors, their families and caregivers were honored recently at “By Your Side,” an event held in a garden near Kaiser Permanente’s Broadway Medical Offices in Oakland. “There are a lot of people surviving cancer today and we’re trying to celebrate that,” said Resa Register, manager of Kaiser’s Radiation Oncology Department. She added the October 13 gathering was also a way to show what resources are available.
The event, which included live music, a photo booth, crafts, food and free massages, was the first of its kind at Kaiser in Oakland. Rachel Whalen, project manager for the Breast Cancer Center, added that she hopes that “By Your Side” will become an annual observation recognizing the community of cancer survivors.
Below are some of the stories of the people honored at the event.
Clare Chase-Tanner of Oakland is a trainer and agent for US Airways. Chase-Tanner was diagnosed with breast cancer in October, 2013. She finished her last round of chemotherapy in April and finished radiation therapy about eight weeks ago. She was scheduled for a surgery to remove a blocked salivary gland, a side effect of chemotherapy, the day after the By Your Side event. She considers her daughter, sister, friends, cousins and the Breast Cancer Support Group to be her supporters. “I’ve had a big support group, so that’s been nice,” she said.
Edmund Mansourou of Castro Valley works as an IT staffer at ClifBar. Mansourou was diagnosed with acute lymphobastic leukemia in 2010 and has been in remission for four years. He and his wife Nadia were told that his chemotherapy would prevent him from having kids, but Nadia is now six months pregnant. Mansourou said his “dream team” support network has been his wife and his parents, Robert and Nahrain Lease.
Ruth Ritter of Hayward is a retired contracts administration for a construction company. Ritter, a survivor of oral cancer, has been cancer-free for two years. She said the cancer in her soft upper palette, her left tonsil and two lymph nodes was treated with chemotherapy. Her support network has been her husband, her three daughters, her church, her friends that she plays tennis with, and the Head and Neck Cancer Support Group.
Marlene Zuehlsdorff of Oakland is a retired director of special services for San Lorenzo school district. Zuehlsdorff was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 after having breast reduction surgery and has been cancer free for eight and a half years. She and her husband both volunteer at Kaiser; Zuehlsdorff was one of the original five members of a peer navigator program in the breast cancer center. Zuehlsdorff said she has been supported by her husband, Richard Zuehlsdorff, and the Breast Cancer Support Group.
Danna Pierce of San Leandro is a retired gardener for a small maintenance business. Pierce was diagnosed with bile duct cancer two years ago and underwent surgery to remove her bile duct, her gall bladder, the head of her pancreas and her duodenum. After finding out she also had cancer in her lymph nodes, she had chemotherapy treatment. Pierce goes in for a blood test every three months to see whether the cancer has returned; the last time she went in, her levels were above the normal range. Now she is waiting for her next blood test; if the results are again outside the normal range, doctors might do a CT scan, she said. Pierce has been supported by her partner and the general cancer support group. “It’s a really great group. It’s been really helpful for me,” she said.
Peter Donahue of Oakland is a retired bartender. Donahue was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2013. Donahue’s bladder was removed, he went through chemotherapy and his doctors thought he was cured. However, in May he learned that he has stage four cancer in his pelvis and his spine, and he has restarted chemotherapy treatments. Since he began battling with cancer, he said, his life has gotten simpler. “I just do what my doctor says, and my whole job is to be happy and healthy,” he said. Donahue is aided by the general cancer support group, his neighbors and friends.
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