Cancer AnswerLine: the top ten questions

CAL group FBHave you ever wondered what type of questions you can ask the Cancer AnswerLine™? Our service is for anyone who has been affected by cancer and we accept any questions related to cancer that are appropriate. Sometimes we may not have the answers and this may be because there isn’t an answer to the question. For example, “What causes cancer?” No one knows the exact cause of most cases of cancer.

These are the most frequently asked questions, along with our Cancer AnswerLine™ answers:

1. How do I make an appointment with a specialist at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center Continue reading

Maize and Blue Go PINK!

A special tailgate event to support breast cancer research at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

Last Friday evening, the University of Michigan Health System and The Forbes Company, owners of Go Pinkthe Somerset Collection, partnered in a “Maize and Blue Go Pink” benefit to support breast cancer research at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. With approximately 300 people in attendance, Nathan and Catherine Forbes, Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, University of Michigan Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and U-M Health System CEO, and the Somerset Collection turned a tent in the middle of downtown Detroit into “The Pink House.”

The evening, emceed by former NFL and Wolverine standout Steven Hutchinson and his wife, Landyn, featured a strolling dinner provided by favorite restaurants from Detroit and Ann Arbor.

Special touches included maize and blue M&Ms, block “M” Legos and centerpieces constructed of products and memorabilia from both Detroit and U-M. But it was the incredibly stylish fashion show and amazing performances from The Vandellas and The Contours that crowned a truly spectacular evening!

While we are still tallying official numbers and will not have a final tally until the end of the month when the special silent auction currently happening at Somerset Collection closes, we are thrilled to share that our gross revenue to date for breast cancer research has surpassed $118,000, and continues to grow. If you are unable to make it over to Somerset Collection, you can still help out by making a donation.

Experience the evening in pictures.


CCC 25 years button150x150The 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 for cancer patient care. Seventeen 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.


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!




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.


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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




Oncology pharmacists are on your care team

stock pharmacistCaring for patients with a cancer diagnosis is a team activity. All members of your health care team play a critical role by specializing in a particular area of your care. Oncology pharmacists are an important part of this team.

Oncology pharmacists work in a variety of areas within the University of Michigan Health System—including the Cancer Center.  The main role of the oncology pharmacist is to be the expert on medications. We work with your doctors and nurses to assure that medications used in the treatment of cancer are Continue reading

One Native American gives back

Patient Shoshana Phillips started a non-profit organization to help other Native American cancer patients and their children cope with the diagnosis

Patient Shoshana Phillips started a non-profit organization to help other Native American cancer patients and their children cope with the diagnosis

Shoshana Phillips has spent most of her 51 years engrained in Omaha Nation culture with the goal to educate and help her Native American tribe flourish. It was only when she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma six years ago she realized the disparities among Native Americans with cancer, including children whose parents have cancer.

Together with her daughter Alethea, Phillips worked to form a non-profit organization intended to help children in need now and to educate young people to make healthy lifestyle choices to avoid obesity, diabetes and cancer in the future.

Adult infusion nurse Colleen Dauw, R.N., says it’s not uncommon to see patients with cancer trying to give back.

“Shoshana has been helping people in her tribe her whole life,” says Dauw. “It puts a very positive light on healing and working to become well. It doesn’t surprise me that her daughter is following in her footsteps to want to make a difference in the Native American community.”

Cancer incidences among American Indians vary by tribe, region and gender, but are often much higher than non-Hispanic whites. Many factors contribute, including a high burden of risk factors like tobacco and alcohol abuse, poor diets due to commodity items like white flour and white sugar, Continue reading

Farmer markets: pleasures from the farm

fruitFarmer markets makes it easy to eat well in the summertime. Fruits and vegetables–key to a healthy diet that may help to prevent cancer–are at their most delicious peaks. And grocery shopping feels more like an adventure than a chore.

During the past few years, farmers’ markets have multiplied across the state of Michigan. Visit our online calendar to what’s in season now and throughout the summer. Check out the Michigan Farmers Market Map, too, to find a location near you.

If you are near the University of Michigan campus, locally grown fresh produce is available in three campus locations at The Produce Cart. Here is a 2013 schedule with maps; Towsley Triangle at University Hospital is one of the locations. Continue reading