Listening to her dad never felt so good: a metaplastic breast cancer survivor’s story

Renee Javonsky with her parents and kids.

Renee Javonsky with her parents and kids.

Renee Janovsky never expected her mammogram to reveal breast cancer. After all, she was simply establishing a baseline at age 40. Instead, in September 2006, following an initial biopsy and tumor review, the diagnosis revealed triple negative metaplastic breast cancer, stage 1 with a high grade – a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. She was referred to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center by her father, Adrian Kramer. He was treated there previously and he insisted that she be treated at U-M.

“At the time, my children were two and four years old, so I had way more life ahead of me. I listened to my dad and went to Ann Arbor,” says Renee.

Lisa Newman, M.D., M.P.H., director of the U-M Breast Care Center, met with Renee, her husband and parents. Renee was immediately put at ease with her knowledge and manner of presenting information. Ten days later, Renee had a lumpectomy.

“Dr. Newman explained that because little was known about tumors that were both triple negative and metaplastic, there was no defined treatment protocol. She recommended Continue reading

Running with my hero to stomp out sarcoma

"We finished in just under 38 minutes, amazingly not last!"

Dr. Leja and Maire

Dr. Monika Leja with Maire Kent at Sunday’s Stomp out Sarcoma run.

I ran with my hero today! It would be a breeze for most 24-year-olds like my patient Maire Kent to take part in the Stomp Out Sarcoma 5K run and be first at the finish line.

But Maire was diagnosed with a cardiac sarcoma in 2012. Cardiac sarcoma is a rare malignant tumor that grows directly from the heart.

The condition has taken its toll on her and there was no way she would have the stamina to run the three miles even though a few years ago she ran a marathon. So I agreed to cover the distance for both of us, pushing her in a wheelchair decked out in maize and blue.

At one point, Maire had to help push us along the last hill because I was running out of gas in the heat.  Together we made it to the finish line. This gives us hope that working together we can overcome this deadly disease!

The money raised Sunday, through the dedication of volunteers, supports research at the Sarcoma Program at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

There are many different types of sarcomas that attack bone, muscle, fat, or cartilage. Most of these patients are young and in the prime of their lives and many are even small children.

I grew up in Michigan, and returned to be part of the University’s new Cardio-Oncology program. More of these programs are starting across the country and cardiologists like me work with cancer specialists to minimize the impact of chemo and radiation on the heart.  The U-M’s program is unique in that we also have the expertise to care for those with heart tumors.

During our long work weeks, physicians can get caught up in the daily grind of medical records, rounds, and meetings. Sometimes we forget why we are here:  the privilege of taking care and being a part of our patients’ lives and families.

This summer has been no different in term of work hours but time spent on behalf of patients has taken me from the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center to the trails winding through Hudson Mills park.

Today I was pushing Maire, but she and the many other patients and families out there, are pushing me to find answers and improve outcomes.

Ironically we finished several paces behind Anne Maxwell, a 25-year-old from Clarkston diagnosed last spring with a sarcoma found in her hip. Anne ran this weekend, not just in Sunday’s Stomp Out Sarcoma 5K, but in a 15K Bastille Day run the day before.

Maire is my hero and she keeps me going with her courage and smile. We finished in just under 38 minutes, amazingly not last!


 

leja

 

Monika Leja, M.D., sees patients in the Cardio-Oncology program at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center.  She treats cardiac tumors and collaborates with cancer specialists to prevent or minimize heart damage caused by chemotherapy and radiation.

 

UMHS 180 logo

 

The University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is the top ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit the Heart and Vascular page on UofMHealth.org.

 

 

 

Check out U-M Cancer Center events

Jan. 13

Bandito’s Supports the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center
10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Bandito’s Restaurant, 216 S. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor

Mention the words “Cancer Center” when you place your order at Bandito’s, and the restaurant will donate 30 percent of your bill the the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Patient and Family Support Services Program. This offer is available for dine-in, carry-out or delivery orders. To learn more, call the restaurant at 734-996-0234.

Jan. 18

Acrylic Painting: Interpreting the Emotion of Color
11 a.m.-1 p.m. or 4 p.m.-6 p.m.
Level 1, U-M Cancer Center

This month’s Art Studio will focus on working with monochromatic color palettes. Participants will create a painting that is an exploration of one emotion. Additional materials will be available for creating multimedia paintings. This program, which is part of the donor-supported Art Therapy Program, is available free of charge to U-M cancer patients and their families. Space is limited, and registration is required. Please call 1-877-408-7377.

Jan. 21

Free Cervical Cancer Screening
1 p.m.-4 p.m.
U-M Livonia Health Center, 20321 Farmington Road

Cervical cancer will kill more than 4,000 American women this year, but proper screening can save lives. More than half of all cervical cancer cases affect women ages 30 to 55. Hispanic and African-American women are at highest risk. This free screening is open to any woman older than 21 who has not had a Pap test in the past two years and who does not have medical insurance that covers a Pap test. Call the U-M Cancer AnswerLine at 1-800-865-1125 to schedule an appointment.

Jan. 28

Tim O’Brien Trivia Night
O’Kelly Knights of Columbus, Dearborn

Compete for prizes at Tim O’Brien Trivia Night. Proceeds from the event–which will feature appetizers and pizza along with drawings–will support the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. Cost is $20. For more information or to register, email nmo1268@comcast.net.

Do you have a cancer-related event you’d like to promote? Let us know!


Check out U-M Cancer Center events

Jan. 10

Lymphedema Class
1:30-2:30 p.m.
Level 1, U-M Cancer Center

Lymphedema is a side effect of cancer surgery that can be prevented and managed. Join our lymphedema experts from the U-M Department of Physical and Occupational Therapy to learn more about upper extremity lymphedema and how you can manage it. This class is open to patients undergoing cancer surgery involving the arm, chest or back. Space is limited, and registration is required. Call 1-877-408-7377 to learn more.

Jan. 13

Bandito’s Supports the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center
10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Bandito’s Restaurant, 216 S. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor

Mention the words “Cancer Center” when you place your order at Bandito’s, and the restaurant will donate 30 percent of your bill the the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Patient and Family Support Services Program. This offer is available for dine-in, carry-out or delivery orders. To learn more, call the restaurant at 734-996-0234.

Jan. 18

Acrylic Painting: Interpreting the Emotion of Color
11 a.m.-1 p.m. or 4 p.m.-6 p.m.
Level 1, U-M Cancer Center

This month’s Art Studio will focus on working with monochromatic color palettes. Participants will create a painting that is an exploration of one emotion. Additional materials will be available for creating multimedia paintings. This program, which is part of the donor-supported Art Therapy Program, is available free of charge to U-M cancer patients and their families. Space is limited, and registration is required. Please call 1-877-408-7377.

Jan. 21

Free Cervical Cancer Screening
1 p.m.-4 p.m.
U-M Livonia Health Center, 20321 Farmington Road

Cervical cancer will kill more than 4,000 American women this year, but proper screening can save lives. More than half of all cervical cancer cases affect women ages 30 to 55. Hispanic and African-American women are at highest risk. This free screening is open to any woman older than 21 who has not had a Pap test in the past two years and who does not have medical insurance that covers a Pap test. Call the U-M Cancer AnswerLine at 1-800-865-1125 to schedule an appointment.

Jan. 28

Tim O’Brien Trivia Night
O’Kelly Knights of Columbus, Dearborn

Compete for prizes at Tim O’Brien Trivia Night. Proceeds from the event–which will feature appetizers and pizza along with drawings–will support the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. Cost is $20. For more information or to register, email nmo1268@comcast.net.

Do you have a cancer-related event you’d like to promote? Let us know!