Q&A With Dr. Maryland Pao, Women of Influence Honoree

Dr. Pao Social MediaWe will celebrate our 7th Annual Women of Influence Awards Luncheon on Friday, May 10th in New York City at The Plaza’s Grand Ballroom. This exciting event honors extraordinary women who have pushed the boundaries by achieving outstanding goals in business, work, family, home, and health while inspiring women around the globe to live their dreams. Every year, we love to chat with our honorees in the weeks leading up to our Women Of Influence event about their advice for other women and their connection to health, wellness and cancer.

Today we are proud to feature a Q&A with Dr. Maryland Pao, who will be receiving the Dr. Jimmie Holland Pioneer Award on May 10th at The Plaza. 

  • What does it mean to you to be chosen as a Woman of Influence and receive the Dr. Jimmie Holland Pioneer Award by the T.J. Martell Foundation?

I am humbled by the honor. Jimmie was an incredibly special, one-of-a kind person. She believed and truly lived her belief that we must help one another, and we must leave the world a better place than we find it. She touched so many lives and helped people suffering with cancer and its treatments be heard. If I have through my work helping sick children be the best they can be, one tenth the impact she has had, I will feel fulfilled.

  • What piece of advice would you give to young women today to inspire them to follow their dreams?

You can make a difference. I believe in the power of one person – it’s how someone like Tony Martell, who had no experience as a fundraiser, can take a promise to his son to raise a million dollars for cancer research and 36 years later turn it into more than $280 million, or how someone like Jimmie Holland, from rural Texas, can start the field of psychosocial oncology, write the major textbook initiate two journals, found two societies and train people all over the world to help those in distress from cancer find resources and treatments. Be engaged.

  • What steps do you take to make health and wellness a priority in your life?

First, there is no health without mental health. Health and wellness are daily practices. Every day I enjoy my family, walk my dog, practice gratitude and reflection, eat well (especially chocolate), laugh, try to get enough sleep and think about fun places to go with friends and family. If you’re lucky, finding meaningful work through helping others is part of staying healthy and well.

  • If you are comfortable, please share one way in which your life has been affected by cancer.

My father died of colon cancer at 59 in 1981 when my brother was 13 and I was 18. It took a village to raise and support us and so many people stepped up, including Jim and Jimmie when I married their son when I was 24. So, where are my brother and I now? He is an oncologist by training and is the Head of Roche Global Research (pRED) with a special interest in targeted cancer therapeutics. I am a trained pediatrician and child and adolescent psychiatrist serving as the Clinical and Deputy Scientific Director at the National Institute of Mental Health with a special interest in pediatrics at the interface of psychiatry who worked on an advance care planning guide for youth with life-limiting illnesses as well as on developing standards for psychosocial oncology for youth with cancer.

Q&A with Women of Influence Honoree Stephanie Latham of Facebook

StephanieWhat does it mean to you to be chosen as a Woman of Influence by the T.J. Martell Foundation?

As a breast cancer survivor, daughter of a survivor and mother to a survivor the T.J. Martell Foundation supports a cause quite literally near to my heart.  I am honored to join the ranks of an inspiring group of women as we continue to drive toward a cure for future generations.

What piece of advice would you give to young women today to inspire them to follow their dreams?

Silence your inner critic. Be confident in who you are and what you know you can accomplish and don’t let anyone shake that from you.

What steps do you take to make health and wellness a priority in your life?

I am laser focused on my priorities and clear on that with all those around me both personally and professionally. My health and my family top that list always.

Stephanie Latham is Director of U.S. Automotive at Facebook and one of six outstanding honorees for this year’s Women of Influence New York on May 12th. For details and tickets, please click here.

Mechalle’s Story of Survival

MechalleMyersMechalle Myers, who works for the Country Music Association in Nashville, was diagnosed with breast cancer in May of 2016. “When I was diagnosed, I was paralyzed. When I got that call I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even know what was next.”

A friend recommended she call the T.J. Martell Foundation, whose work she was already very familiar with through our partnership with CMA and reputation in the music industry. The T.J. Martell Foundation provided quick referrals to specialists at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and a second opinion at Mount Sinai in New York City when needed. “They got me out of being paralyzed and moved me in the direction I needed to see the doctors I needed to see. I would have never been able to make these connections without the T.J. Martell Foundation. It would have been very stressful, and I can’t say enough great things about them. For someone to step in and say ‘it’s going to be okay – I’m going to help you’ is just amazing. They left me with no lag time to be sitting around dwelling on this news. They got me in to see the doctors I needed right away. I’m eternally grateful for the T.J. Martell Foundation and all their people for their love, support, direction, compassion and expertise. I will always do anything I can to help them.”

Join Drew Baldridge in Supporting Breast Cancer Research!

db_neon_pink_tee_dreIn support of October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, country music artist Drew Baldridge has teamed with Super 8 to launch Rebound From Cancer, a month-long fundraising campaign.

During the month of October, Drew is selling limited-edition t-shirts online and at his concerts with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the T.J. Martell Foundation.

db_neon_pink_tee“This is something that’s dear to my heart,” says Drew to Nash Country Daily. “My grandma got diagnosed with cancer a year and a half ago, and as an artist, I’ve always wanted to use what I’m doing for something bigger than myself. I’ve always wanted to give back. Now I feel like I’m starting to get to that platform where I can help.”

To learn more about Drew and his new single, “Rebound,” check out this article in Nash Country Daily. And be sure to buy your tee shirts today!

 

Q&A With Women Of Influence NY Honoree Sue Phillips

We had the pleasure of chatting with Sue Phillips, President & CEO of Scenterprises. Sue is one of seven outstanding women being honored at the New York Women of Influence Luncheon on May 13th.

What does it mean to you to be chosen as a Woman of Influence by the T.J. Martell Foundation?

Sue PhillipsIt is such an honor to be chosen by an organization that is so altruistic, and which raises funds for such a worthy cause. Tony Martell is now retired from the music industry, but it was through Music that gave him the impetus to keep a promise to his son to find a cure for cancer, and today the T.J. Martell Foundation has raised over $270 million for leukemia, cancer and AIDS research. Music is so fundamental to my wellbeing, too, as it is one of the joys of life and I grew up in South Africa, surrounded by music and art, inspired by mother.  Imagine a world without Music? Imagine a life without any of the Senses? That is why I am so honored to be chosen as a Woman of Influence because it is through the Senses that we can help people bring about positive change; bring HAPPINESS to those in need of it, and also to find a cure through the Senses for these terrible diseases. It is humbling to be honored and to be in the company of so many other remarkable women, and it only makes me want to work even more effectively and strategically to strive to make a greater difference.

What piece of advice would you give to young women today to inspire them to follow their dreams?

Sue_10As Adjunct Professor at LIM College, I try to motivate and inspire my students to believe in themselves, and to explore their surroundings, as they are living in one of the greatest cities of the world. I tell them that it’s important to fuel their passions and to open themselves to all kinds of opportunities. “You’re living in New York City. Avail yourself of everything that is here; the museums and galleries, lectures and parks. When you go from class to class; look around you, look up at the spectacular New York city views and architecture…keep your eyes open!” There’s so much that can help them in their future endeavors. Many of them are obsessed with reality shows, so I try and broaden their horizons and to inspire them to think exponentially. And, if they fail in their endeavors, my motto is to ‘never give up’ and to keep going! Hopefully they remember my words and dream big!

What steps do you take to make health and wellness a priority in your life?

Having been witness to so many people who have been afflicted with cancer, leukemia, AIDS and Alzheimer’s, I try and live my life in as healthy a way as possible. Exercise and a wholesome diet are important to me, but also incorporating beauty and the joy of Art, Music, Fragrance and other Senses, are ways to enjoy a ‘scentsory’ life, to completely ensure my wellbeing. I believe in the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the highest form of wellness!

Gillian’s Story of Survival

487635909.224532414I am blessed to be alive! In 2013, I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, which had metastasized to other organs and bones in my body.  As I was being treated for pain management at a hospital in Westchester, NY the doctors and oncologist that evaluated my case said my days were numbered and recommended that my next stop was Hospice Care and beginning Chemotherapy treatments immediately, which did not align with my belief system.

This is where God stepped in with my sister finding out about Dr. James F. Holland from a colleague.  My prayers were answered in my first phone conversation with Dr. James F. Holland. He said, “Gillian, I am looking for someone who wants to live,” and I said, “you are speaking to that person.” In that same conversation Dr. Holland had already evaluated my case with a recommendation that saved my life, and the protocol did not involve Chemotherapy or Radiation.

I am filled with a tremendous amount of gratitude to report it’s been over two years and I am alive to share my story.  This is due to Dr. Holland’s expertise and support not just in the protocol he recommended, but his integrity and sincerity in supporting how I approached my healing process for my mind, body and spirit.

I was blessed to have the same amazing Oncologist that touched the life of T.J. Martell, and 40 years later he touched my life by his commitment to innovative cancer research.   I thank God for the T.J. Martell Foundation’s unwavering commitment to raising funds for innovative research to find treatments and cures for Leukemia, Cancer and Aids.  More importantly this funding enables more “Oncology Trailblazers” like Dr. James F. Holland to SAVE LIVES.

 

 

 

T.J. Martell Foundation on Today!


On Friday we celebrated our third annual Women of Influence New York. To kick off this exciting day, our host Robin Quivers, a cancer survivor herself, sat down with the team at the Today Show to tell them all about the event, which raised vital funds for breast cancer and ovarian cancer research. Here is the clip. Enjoy!

 

Guest Blog Post: Important Advice if You’re Considering Mastectomy

Ingrid Meszoely, M.D. is Associate Professor of Surgical Oncology and Clinical Director, Vanderbilt Breast Center at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

Following the completion of several large studies in the late 1980s and early 1990s involving thousands of women, it was clearly determined that the number of years a woman lived following breast cancer surgery was exactly the same whether she underwent mastectomy (removing the whole breast) or lumpectomy (just removing the part  of the breast with the cancer). This was a big breakthrough for breast cancer treatment with the realization that more surgery doesn’t result in better outcomes.  Initially this resulted in a trend of women choosing lumpectomy over mastectomy in order to preserve their breasts.

However in recent years, as Dr. Kummerow and many other researchers have found, there is a nationwide trend in choosing mastectomy over lumpectomy despite there being no clear survival advantage.  In addition, many women choose to undergo mastectomy of the non -affected breast despite the fact that the risk of developing cancer in this breast is very low and that it does not have any effect on survival from their current breast cancer.

As a breast cancer surgeon, I see this same phenomenon in my own practice.  The choice of mastectomy on one or both sides is often driven by multiple factors including the fear of cancer coming back or a new cancer on the other side and the wish to do everything one can to prevent this.  This often provides some sense of control and peace of mind in the setting of an overwhelming diagnosis.

When a woman is diagnosed with early breast cancer and given the choice of mastectomy or lumpectomy because she is a candidate for either procedure, the options should be considered carefully.

It should be clearly recognized that mastectomy does not provide 100 percent protection from cancers coming back. Cancers often come back at other sites outside of the breast before they return in the area of the removed breast tissue.  Because mammograms or other imaging studies are not routinely used after mastectomy, the finding of recurrences along the chest depends on continued routine self -exam and clinical exam by their doctor when the tumor is large enough to feel as opposed to being detected on mammogram when it is very small.

Mastectomy is also associated with increased complications compared to lumpectomy and these are often related to the reconstruction, which can be discouraging.  It is even more devastating when there are complications related to the unaffected breast when women choose mastectomies on both sides.

Lymph node surgery often is performed in the setting of mastectomy.  If just a single lymph node is found to be involved with breast cancer, removal of additional lymph nodes is recommended which can result in added complications. However if a lumpectomy is chosen, generally 3 or more lymph nodes need to be involved with cancer before more lymph nodes are removed.

When a woman presents with newly diagnosed early breast cancer and is put in the position of making a decision between lumpectomy and mastectomy, a thoughtful discussion should be initiated with her treating physicians.  Ultimately, the decision is very personal and she should choose the procedure that suits her lifestyle and provides her with the greatest sense of wellbeing.

 

PALB2 Gene Mutation Affects Breast Cancer Risk

Having a family history of breast cancer nearly doubles a woman’s risk of developing the disease and genetic factors are known to play a major role in the origin of breast cancer.

The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes were identified as major breast cancer susceptibility genes nearly 30 years ago and it is estimated that these gene mutations explain about 50 percent of familial breast cancer cases.  BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation tests have been widely used in high risk women (e.g., women with a strong family history of breast cancer) for risk assessment and management which may include prophylactic surgical and drug therapy intervention.

However, a significant fraction of familial breast cancer cases remain unexplained. A recent study identified the PALB2 gene as another major breast cancer predisposition gene. The PALB2 (Partner and localizer of BRCA2) gene produces a protein that is crucial for key BRCA2 functions. Mutation carriers of this gene were found to have a 35 percent risk of developing breast cancer by the age of 70, triple the risk seen in the general population.  For breast cancer diagnosed before age 40, having PALB2 mutations was related to an 8 to 9-fold increased risk.  It is estimated the PALB2 mutations explain about 2 to 3 percent of familial breast cancer risk. This study expanded our knowledge of genetic contributions to the familial profile of breast cancer.

Currently, the benefit and risk of deploying preemptive measures like surgery or drug therapy based on PALB2 mutation status is unknown. While the utility of applying PALB2 mutation information for risk management of high risk populations needs to be further investigated, individuals with known mutations of this gene are encouraged to seek genetic counseling because PALB2 mutations are also known to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer and may increase the risk of ovarian cancers. Mutations in PALB2 are very rare in the general population. Thus, screening for PALB2 in the general population appears to be unnecessary.

Xiao Ou Shu, M.D., Ph.D., MPH
Ingram Professor of Cancer Research
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center