Twin Cities Campus
“Be sure to appreciate every healthy day that you have and the people in your life that you love!” Dick DeBlieck sarcoma survivor and single father of two lives by that motto since his battle with sarcoma.
Dick and Dr. Denis Clohisy teamed up with RIS Sarcoma Scholars Andrew Hughes, Allison Martin and Ying Gibbens to educate 40 of the medical students at the U of M Twin Cities Campus on many aspects of sarcoma.
Dick expressed his gratitude to Dr. Clohisy for his expertise and compassion as he treated him for his sarcoma that had initially been misdiagnosed as a benign tumor. He pointed out to the students that they needed to know the warning signs of sarcoma, as it is rare but deadly. He said the doctor that diagnosed his lump as a cyst had never seen another case of sarcoma in his 35-year practice.
Dr. Clohisy followed up on that theme by telling the students that they couldn’t diagnose what they don’t know. He then led them through the things they need to know to diagnose a sarcoma. He asked many questions of the students involving them in the whole learning experience.
When Dr. Clohisy was done, the students asked him many questions. One interesting fact that also came out was that two of the students in the audience had been personally affected by sarcoma, as had scholars Andrew and Allison. Their personal experiences made an additional impact on their fellow students. Andrew lost his father to sarcoma and Allison’s brother is currently battling sarcoma.
The entire program organized by the scholars fit together seamlessly to give the students in the audience knowledge about both the symptoms of sarcoma and the personal toll of sarcoma. Knowledge is power and for students to be made aware of a rare disease in such an impactful way will hopefully trigger the knowledge when a patient presents with a suspicious lump or bump.
The scholars ended the program by describing some of the activities they have taken part in during their scholar year, including an intensive sarcoma boot camp organized by Dr. Dusenbery with lectures by Dr. Hurley of Health Partners, Dr. Ogilvie from UMN, and Dr. Okuno from Mayo Clinic. In collaboration with the Mayo scholars, they have been writing articles for the website on different types of sarcoma, attending patient gatherings, and taking advantage of other opportunities to meet with researchers and sarcoma specialists. They urged the attendees to apply for the 2018-19 sarcoma scholarships.
Two of the attendees stopped to tell us on the way out that it was the best lunch lecture that they have attended at medical school, and they didn’t mean the tasty lunch from Noodles and Company.
Traffic jams, freezing rain, sleet, and blowing snow early in the afternoon on Monday, February 19th did not deter sarcoma cancer education. The speakers drove from the Twin Cities. Dr. Christian Ogilvie, of the University of Minnesota Department of Orthopedic Surgery had a head start. Patient, Annette Bonaventura, and Madison Weg, alumni from the Duluth Medical School and current Sarcoma Scholar, stayed warm battling traffic with Janelle Calhoun. All were on a mission. Safety was a focus, however sarcoma education for the next generation of physicians to improve outcomes for patients was our goal. The 2017 – 2018 sarcoma scholars had worked with faculty at the Duluth campus to set up the annual educational talk. Dinner was ordered, students scheduled, and sarcoma advocacy work was at hand!
Dr. Ogilvie presented to a crowd of approximately 20 first and second year medical students. He highlighted unique points about sarcoma tumors, offered insight and specific pieces of information to help students read images to support accurate diagnosis. With his experience, he shared information on biopsy, and unique situations potentially masking an accurate or timely diagnosis. Dr. Ogilvie took great care, emphasizing particular areas which would be helpful for both students, and patients in the years ahead.
With 26 years working in a pediatric clinic as a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), Annette Bonaventura knows the medical field. She drew everyone in as she related her experiences, insights and feelings about medical providers, therapy, patient advocacy, and her life with sarcoma. She spoke candidly about failed and delayed diagnosis, biopsy, surgery, therapy, and about the future - how she was able to be strong, trusting in her knowledge and advocating for herself with the assistance of her beloved border collie, Sergio. He supported her gut reactions with his sense of smell, communicating all was not well, and to persist.
Annette was the human touch, reminding students of the many forms sarcoma takes and its implications far beyond clinical walls. Sarcoma caused her loss of fine motor skills, affecting balance and preventing her from working with kids in a career she loved. Having had sarcoma in her right upper thigh and in her right forearm, she spoke with an authenticity and genuineness. Students flocked to her at the end of the talk with additional questions. She knew how to deliver information to help the students become better physicians around patients. She touched hearts, as she always does to help others.
Madison spoke with students about being a Sarcoma Scholar, recruiting for the 2018 - 2019 scholar program. She explained the program, research, learning, sarcoma advocacy, and how she gives back. Madison will make waves in the years ahead as she studies internal medicine and works for better patient outcomes, putting to work her 2014-15 sarcoma research in Dr. Branden Moriarity's lab and her collaboration with scholars and physicians at the University of Minnesota.
Next month the Rein in Sarcoma Update will highlight the Sarcoma Lecture at the Mayo Medical School being coordinated by RIS Mayo Scholars and led by Dr. Steven Robinson.