UMHS teams up with students to teach hands-only CPR

Do you know what to do if a friend or family member suddenly went into cardiac arrest?

Start hands-only CPR!

Hands-only CPR is CPR without any mouth-to-mouth contact. If you witness someone suddenly collapse, it’s important to call 9-1-1 and then begin pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest of the collapsed person.

Thanks to the U-M Club Sports Teams, more than 350 U-M students were trained in hands-only CPR over the course of two days last week. Continue reading


The benefits of massage therapy

U-M patient experiences "life-altering" results

Massage therapy

Diane Holland, M.D., is a strong believer in the Massage Therapy Program offered to University of Michigan Health System patients, outpatients, families, staff and guests. In fact, you could say she’s one of the program’s biggest fans.The benefits Holland says she gets from her weekly massage session go well beyond the traditional muscle relaxation that many expect. The radiologist, a U-M Medical School alumna and former cancer patient, believes her weekly massage appointments with Massage Therapy Program Director Beth Miazga have been life altering. Continue reading


Good communication and a take-charge attitude can help close the gap on cancer health disparities

Cancer Center health educator offers tips to African Americans and other minority groups

AfAmerCancerExperienceIn February, Madeline Gonzalez, a health educator at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, participated in a panel discussion on the African American cancer experience. It took place at the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor in recognition of Black History Month, and addressed the unique ways that cancer impacts the African American community. Here are the highlights of Madeline’s presentation on cancer health disparities, which we are sharing as part of National Minority Cancer Awareness Week: Continue reading


A warm welcome: Volunteer opportunities abound at the Cancer Center

Volunteer OpportunitiesGretchen Elsner-Sommer enjoys welcoming people, whether it is into her home in Ann Arbor, her former bed and breakfast in Illinois or the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. At 66, this breast cancer survivor volunteers at the Cancer Center every week hoping to make at least one cancer patient’s day a little brighter.

“My job is to help them feel more at ease and get them where they need to be,” says Elsner-Sommer, who works as a patient guide. “I love getting people talking about something else besides what they’re going through, even if it’s just for a few minutes.”

Elsner-Sommer decided to become a Cancer Center volunteer after her own cancer experience, which began in the late 1990s.

“I know what it’s like to walk into the building and not know where the heck you’re going. I can really relate to that and help patients feel more comfortable. People are so grateful to have someone smile at them who’s not a doctor.”

Elsner-Sommer has survived stage 1 breast cancer on two occasions. In addition to swimming and sticking to a mainly raw food diet, volunteering is part of her recovery. She said it lifts her spirits each week as she aims to give back.

“As a patient, I’d see these older women volunteers telling people where their appointments were. It was a great image before me to see them healthy and active.”

In her spare time, Elsner-Sommer writes and studies genealogy. She’s been gathering facts on the women in her family since she moved from Illinois to Ann Arbor in the mid-90s with her husband, David. To welcome their family, they built a guest cottage behind their home, which also houses the guest book from Elsner-Sommer’s former bed and breakfast.

Mary McCully, the program coordinator for the Cancer Center’s Volunteer and Community Resources program, welcomes all volunteers and can help those who are interested determine what role is the match best for them. She suggests visiting mCancer.org/volunteer to get a sense of the wide variety of volunteer opportunities available to students, former patients, their families and community members.

“All our volunteers come to the Cancer Center for a specific orientation. As part of training, you might shadow a current volunteer in an area for several weeks to get comfortable in the role. Our volunteers typically come in one time a week for a 3-4 hour shift.”

The University of Michigan Health System, including the Cancer Center, asks all volunteers to commit for six months.

“No matter what their role, our volunteers give back through the goodness of their hearts,” McCully says. “I don’t think they realize how much of a difference they make in a patient’s day. I’m very appreciative of those in our community who volunteer their time.”

Volunteer opportunities at the Cancer Center include:

  • The Patient Education Resource Center (PERC)
  • The Courtesy Center desk
  • Patient guides in the lobby
  • The mobile coffee cart (offering complimentary warm beverages to waiting patients)
  • The Warm Fuzzies blanket project
  • And more!

All Cancer Center volunteers receive a special orientation and training to be comfortable in the role. No experience is needed.

For Elsner-Sommer, volunteering is “the best thing in the world.” She finds strength in the patients she meets and admires their bravery. She uses her past experiences as a bed and breakfast owner to get to know people and can easily recall multiple interactions with patients, from the woman who used to work at Marshall Field’s in Chicago during World War II to the young man on crutches with the heavy backpack. She looks forward to seeing the man in the Notre Dame sweatshirt, who always comes to the Cancer Center with one of his many daughters.

“I could tell you a million stories about the people I meet,” she laughs. “All you have to do is be nice to people. I get so much more out of volunteering than I give.”

Take the next step:

From the Summer, 2014 edition of Thrive.

Thrive fall 15Thrive magazine is an award-winning quarterly publication of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, offering inspirational patient stories, news and information on programs and services, tips on coping and living with cancer and more. Find Thrive in the Cancer Center or online.




Cancer-center-informal-vertical-sig-150x150The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 1,000 doctors, nurses, care givers and researchers are united by one thought: to deliver the highest quality, compassionate care while working to conquer cancer through innovation and collaboration. The center is among the top-ranked national cancer programs, and #1 in Michigan according to U.S. News & World Report. Our multidisciplinary clinics offer one-stop access to teams of specialists for personalized treatment plans, part of the ideal patient care experience. Patients also benefit through access to promising new cancer therapies.


Her “migraine” turned out to be an AVM

Chantal Poole’s story: “It could have been fatal”

Chantal and daughter side by side

After a diagnosis of AVM, or arteriovenous malformation, Chantal Poole underwent urgent surgeries. Today, she is working and living life to the fullest as a mother to her five-year-old daughter.

An AVM, or arteriovenous malformation, is not something 18-year-olds usually worry about. But one day Chantal Poole, who had suffered from migraines since she was 13, had what she thought was the worst migraine of her life. It turned out to be a brain AVM that had caused a bleeding in her brain.

An AVM is a tangle of abnormal and poorly formed blood vessels that have a higher rate of bleeding than normal vessels. AVMs can occur anywhere in the body.

“That day at work I had a totally different pain,” Chantal says, “It was so bad that I lost vision in my right eye and I became weak. When I got off from work I had to sit in the lobby until my mother came and got me. I couldn’t drive because I couldn’t see.”   Continue reading


Safe storage of firearms and ammunition

gun and ammunition storageOne out of three homes in the U.S. with children has guns. Unfortunately, many of those are not stored properly.

As physicians invested in the care of children in our communities, my colleagues and I wondered what factors contribute to the problem. It turns out that part of the reason for improper storage may be that parents looking for information about firearm storage don’t have access to complete information.

When a parent searches the internet to learn about how to store guns and ammunition, what information do they find?

Continue reading