Medical assistant’s cancer opens a door

Now a dedicated walker, Mimi Schork chooses her menu wisely

Mimi Schork (center) with her husband Matt and coworker Tiffiney Dixon

Mimi Schork (center) with her husband Matt and coworker Tiffiney Dixon.

A phone call last winter changed Mimi Schork’s life. After working as a medical assistant at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center for 12 years, with the last four years in the Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Mimi learned that she had cancer. The call confirmed a positive biopsy of a suspicious lump found during her annual mammogram. Mimi was now a patient herself, with early stage HER-2 positive breast cancer.

“My mind went blank. Then I thought of my lifestyle. I’ve smoked since I was 16, don’t exercise and pretty much eat and drink whatever I want at any time of the day or night. Did these habits contribute to my cancer?” Mimi asked. Continue reading

A meaty debate: Can red meat be part of a healthful diet?

Small amounts of red meat are fine, when part of a plant-based diet

Eat red meat sparingly, avoid processed meat.

The World Health Organization classifies processed meats as carcinogens and says red meat is probably a carcinogen. Our cancer nutritionists recommend eating only small amounts of red meat, and avoiding processed meats.


With all the focus on a plant-based diet for overall health and reduction of cancer risk, and recent media hype reporting red and processed meat cause cancer, meat lovers are left to wonder if their favorite foods are still allowed.

The WHO (World Health Organization’s) International Agency for Research on Cancer just released its analysis of the literature to date and concluded red meat and processed meat are likely carcinogenic, or cancer-causing foods. They cited a 17% – 18% increased risk of colorectal cancer with as little as two ounces of processed meat or four of ounces red meat per day. Continue reading

Let’s talk about sex and chemotherapy

Guidelines for safe sex during chemotherapy

sex and chemotherapyIs it safe to have sexual relations with my partner who is undergoing chemotherapy? When is the right time, or the safest time? As a Cancer AnswerLine™ nurse, I get questions like this from callers from time to time.

Sexuality and sex are two very important parts of a relationship, and it is only natural that our patients and partners worry about what the best approach is. And the short answer is: Sexuality is whatever a person desires, as long as it is mutual and safe. Continue reading

How an app is improving breast cancer care

breast cancer app

Jacqueline Tonks enjoys using technology. At age 78, she’s learned from her grandchildren and children, and is a frequent user of Facebook, Skype and texting. So when she heard about a mobile app that could help her manage her breast cancer treatment, she downloaded it.

“The nice thing about this app is that when I turn on my iPhone or iPad, the app appears and reminds me of things to do today. I really like the reminders of what exercises I’m supposed to do, in what order, and how many. It keeps me on track,” Tonks says. Continue reading

Study: Gene test validates NCCN guidelines on chemo for breast cancer

Some early stage patients can skip chemo

chemo for breast cancer
mCancerPartner interviewed Dan Hayes, M.D., clinical director of the Cancer Center’s breast oncology program. In late September 2015, investigators – including Dr. Hayes – showed that many women with early stage breast cancer can skip chemotherapy with good results, based on a gene test assessing which tumors were more likely to respond to chemotherapy. This study validates clinical recommendations in place since 2007 made by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Dr. Hayes served on both recommendation task forces and provided the following remarks on the origin of these recommendations.

mCancerPartner: How has the standard of care for women with the most common type of breast cancer (early stage, hormone positive, HER2 negative, not spread to lymph nodes) evolved over the years? Continue reading