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GI Blog

Mar 21
Huntsman Hometown Heros

Huntsman Hometown Heros: a program that allows you to raise funds for cancer research at Huntsman Cancer Institute and train to run/walk/ride in the race your choice while giving you access to capped events, personalized coaching, a fundraising website, and a team jersey. 

Here is a list of the Huntsman Hometown Heros Events for 2013:

April 20: Salt Lake Marathon (marathon, half marathon, 5K, and bike tour)

May 4: Provo Half Marathon (Marathon and half Marathon)

May 16: Ogden Marathon (Marathon, half marathon, 5K or marathon relay)

June 1: Little Red Riding Hood (18-, 36-, 50-, 80- and 100-mile bike ride *Women Only)

June 8: Utah Valley Marathon (Marathon and half marathon)

June 15: Huntsman 140 (25-, 70-, or 140-mile bike ride from Delta, UT, to Huntsman Cancer Institute

June 20-22: Ragnar Relay - Wasatch Back (Running relay for a team of 12)

June 29 and August 24: Kiss Me Dirty (Four-Mile obstacle course in South Jordan and Ogden *Women Only)

August 10: R2R MT. Nebo Century Challenge (101-mile bike ride through Uintah National Forest)

July 6: Porcupine Hill Climb (Bike ride up Big Cottonwood Canyon)

September 7: Lotoja (206-mile bike ride from Logan, UT to Jackson, WY)

Learn more at:





Jan 25
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month!


March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancers are one of the most preventable cancers. Early screening is important to finding the cancers early when treatment can work best.
Nearly 150,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the U.S. each year. Approximately 50,000 people die from colon cancer each year. With early detection and treatment many of these would be prevented.


If you are over 50 or have a family history of colorectal cancer, it is important to be screened. Screening saves lives. Screening is important even for individuals who do not necessarily have any signs or symptoms that may indicate cancer.
Schedule your colonoscopy today by calling (801) 585-5724 or visiting​
Jan 25
United States Cancer Statistics (USCS)
Jan 25
ABRAXANE improved overall survival by nearly two months for pancreatic cancer

ABRAXANE® improves overall survival in patients with untreated, metastatic pancreatic cancer

Last November, Celgene Corporation (Celgene) released positive news relating to its pivotal phase III clinical trial in pancreatic cancer. Celgene hoped to show that the combination of its chemotherapy drug ABRAXANE with gemcitabine would improve overall survival in patients with untreated, metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma when compared to gemcitabine alone. Use of gemcitabine alone has been the standard of care for pancreatic cancer.

The supporting data was released on January 22, 2013 by Celgene, showing that overall survival increased by nearly two months (8.5 vs. 6.7) in patients who received the combination treatment. A 59 percent increase in one-year survival was also reported. This information suggests that ABRAXANE plus gemcitabine is a safe and effective treatment option for patients with untreated metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma. On average, patients treated with gemcitabine and ABRAXANE experienced more side effects than patients treated with gemcitabine alone, though the combination was still well-tolerated.

The complete findings of this study will be presented at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in San Francisco on January 25, 2013. Celgene will then take this data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval in pancreatic cancer. ABRAXANE is already approved to treat breast cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Before FDA approval of ABRAXANE for use in pancreatic cancer, physicians may prescribe ABRAXANE if they feel it is the patient’s best option.

Jan 25
The Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act, Formerly known at the Pancreatic Cancer Research Act, Passes Congress!
Dec 12
One Patient's Journey

I would like to briefly give you three prescriptions that helped me throughout my cancer journey.  These prescriptions aren’t covered by insurance and I don’t have to have a medical license to prescribe them.  However, the benefits far outweigh the cost – they are:  hope, stubborn determination and laughter.

Not long ago, I planned my funeral.  I imagined it to be an occasion that people would be talking about for months. The church packed with people and baskets of flowers as colorful as a rainbow. But why shouldn’t I expect that? I put so much thought and planning into every detail. Nothing has been left to chance. The music is upbeat and inspirational. Everything is perfect, except…..What do you do when your funeral doesn’t go as planned? I wondered if I’d be able to get a refund on the coffin and headstone? Would it be rude to ask for my worldly possessions back from those I had willed them to? After all, I didn’t die!

In June 2010, after several weeks of unexplained itching and jaundice, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 pancreatic cancer. My first thoughts were this is a death sentence. You see, I have experience with family members diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and that’s how it ended for all of them.

The first weekend after diagnosis, I thought about my own mortality. I asked the question, Why me, God? What did I do to deserve this? Then I got out my pen and paper and began to make out my will.  I thought about my family and my sons and the grandchildren I would never meet.

My diagnosis was confirmed by ERCP -- borderline operable stage 2 pancreatic cancer. The doctors were optimistic that if the tumor could be decreased in size, I would be eligible for surgery.  I underwent rounds of chemotherapy and radiation here at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and as Dr. Anker promised, my tumor shrank – but now there was another problem.  My PET scan showed several spots on my liver that weren’t there previously.  My doctors were convinced that the cancer had metastasized to my liver.  They gave me ZERO chance of survival.  My oncologist whom I will call “Dr. Z” in Idaho was blunt, saying “You DO know you will never be a surgical candidate, right”? His negative attitude was enough for me to fire him as my oncologist.  I resumed rounds of chemotherapy with a more upbeat oncologist and was still preparing for my death.  Apparently God had another plan for me. 

My oncologist and I were shocked when we looked at my CT scan six months after I had been sent home with the news that there was no hope for me.  The spots on the liver were gone – and the tumor had decreased from the size of a walnut to the size of an almond.

Dr. Anker, my radiation oncologist had never been completely convinced that the spots on my liver were metastasis and had my oncologist send a copy of my CT scan to him after the next round of chemo.  If the scan showed that the spots on my liver were gone, he wanted to present my case to the Tumor Board in reconsideration for surgery.  True to his word, Dr. Anker called me one morning about a week after the good news of my scan.  I’ll never forget how excited he was.  He said, “I just got out of the Tumor Board and I couldn’t wait to call you.  It was a unanimous decision to have you back here in consideration for surgery.”  That very week I was sitting in Dr. Scaife’s office – the very room I had been told there was no hope for me.  Her first words to me were, “Well, you proved us wrong.  When do you want to schedule surgery?”

In his book, It’s Not About the Bike, Lance Armstrong said, “What are my chances?  It was a question I would repeat over and over.  But it was irrelevant, wasn’t it?  It didn’t matter, because the medical odds don’t take into account the unfathomable.  There is no proper way to estimate somebody’s chances, and we shouldn’t try, because we can never be entirely right, and it deprives people of hope.  Hope that is the only antidote to fear.”  Hope is a medicine rarely prescribed by health care professionals, especially when it comes to a diagnosis like pancreatic cancer. I’m not here to tell you that everyone gets a miracle and I’m not going to tell you that I didn’t often lose hope. My hope often waned. What I am here to tell you today is that miracles are possible. I guess you could call me a medical anomaly. Prayer and belief in a power higher than all of us….Belief and Faith in The Great Physician is what I want to tell you about.

Have I survived this disease? So far, so good! But had the outcome been different. Had I NOT experienced a miracle, I have a hope built on my Faith in God, on the knowledge that I would be Heaven bound. I would see many family members who had gone on to Heaven before me and that promise alone gave me hope and comfort even in the face of death.

I was the recipient of prayers from all over the country. Friends, family, church family – past and present – lifted me up in prayer and prayed for a miracle. In April 2011, the CT scan showed that the spots on the liver were gone and the tumor had shrunk. I was a candidate for surgery. A surgery that medical professionals had told me would NEVER happen.

As I prepared myself mentally, physically and spiritually for the surgery, I needed to give Praise to God for this miracle. I also wanted the doctors to know that miracles do happen. So, before my surgery, I had my husband write with a black marker on my abdomen the Bible verse Mark 10:27, “with God, all things are possible”. It was my message to Dr. Scaife that her hands were being guided by The Great Physician.

            Six days after my whipple procedure I began to receive the pathology reports from the tissue samples taken during the surgery.  I was told that all of the tissue samples showed that there was NO cancer.  It has been one year and six months since my surgery and every one of my CT scans has been clear and my CA 19-9 tumor marker tests have all been normal.

            Petticus Lore, in his book, “I Am Number Four”, said, “When you have lost hope, you have lost everything. And when you think all is lost, when all is dire and bleak, there is always hope.”

            My husband and sons can attest to the fact that I’m a BAD patient.  Dr. Scaife had me figured out from the get-go.  I’m stubborn – I just don’t take things at face value or accept something just because somebody “said so”.  While I’m not advocating that you be an unreasonable patient, Paul E. McGhee, PhD says, “Cancer patients with a fighting spirit were most likely to be long-term survivors with no relapses”.  Although I have not found any clinical reports that conclusively support this theory, it stands to reason that a person who has no hope and doesn’t seek medical and alternative therapies will give up.  Cancer is a tough adversary and it takes everything you’ve got to fight it.   

I am married to a stubborn, Irish “warrior” whose philosophy is that it is better to die fighting than to stand in line and let it happen.  I don’t think Dr. Anker would have gone to bat for me a second time with the Tumor Board if I hadn’t questioned whether the spots on my liver were actually cancer.   Dr. Anker wrote me in an email, “Seeing how well you handled radiation and chemo, and being familiar with your positive attitude and all the struggles in your life that you had already overcome, I was quite confident we could get you back to the O.R. for a second chance”.  Compared to “Dr. Z” – the oncologist in Boise who if I had continued treatment with, I don’t think I would be alive today.  It was essential to my well-being that I had doctors who could treat a serious disease, but also leave room for hope. 

            Last Christmas, I had the pleasure of sending “Dr. Z” a postcard telling him that I was still alive AND that not only I had the surgery, but that I am currently cancer free.  I also advised him to prescribe a little more hope in his practice.  I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when he received THAT postcard!  I think I would have gotten a good laugh from that!

            And that brings me to my final prescription – laughter.  Bob Hope once said, “I have seen what a laugh can do.  It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.”   Harold H. Benjamin, PhD said,  “Laughter in and of itself cannot cure cancer nor prevent cancer, but laughter as part of the full range of positive emotions including hope, love, faith, a strong will to live, determination and purpose, can be a significant and indispensable aspect of the total fight for recovery." 

            As I look back at my cancer journey, I can truly say it was filled with some wonderful memories.  My husband and I recall with fondness the times during my chemo infusions that we got to giggling so hard that our sides hurt.  Not only were we laughing, but before long several of the other patients and nurses were smiling.  Have you ever looked around at the faces of patients receiving chemo?  There were some that broke my heart.  Some faces are resigned – others are tired and ashen and yet others are scared or angry.  I’ve been each one of those faces, but when I’ve laughed, my infusions seem to go by quickly and we were off to have dinner or see a dollar movie or go for a walk.  Laughter broke the tension, took the place of anger, lessened my fear, helped the time pass quickly and lifted not only my spirits, but the spirits of those around me.  The Bible tells us in Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.”

            Thanks to the incredible medical team at the Huntsman Cancer Institute – especially Dr. Anker, my tenacious Radiation Oncologist and my wonderful and positive surgeon, Dr. Scaife, I have been cancer free for over a year. 

Nov 09
Recommended Reading List
One of our patients sent me this list of books she read during her treatments that really helped her.  The patient's name and contact information are listed at the end of the list.

Facing Cancer Together: How to Help Your Friend or Loved One [Paperback] ISBN-13: 978-0806638331

Pamela N. Brown (Author)


Alive and Well: One Doctor's Experience With Nutrition in the Treatment of Cancer Patients [Paperback]  ISBN-13: 978-0912986173

Jr., M.D. Philip E. Binzel (Author)


God Said Not Yet!: One Man's Experience With "Terminal" Cancer [Paperback]

Daniel Edward Neff (Author)  ISBN-13: 978-1451562309


It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life [Paperback]

Lance Armstrong (Author), Sally Jenkins (Author)  ISBN-13: 978-0425179611


Love, Medicine and Miracles [Paperback]

Bernie S. Siegel (Author)  ISBN-13: 978-0060914066


Contact Information:

Janet Gill

(208) 318-3278

Oct 08
One survivor's inspirational story
Oct 08
Dr. Samadder talking about colorectal cancer
Oct 08
New Video about the Clinical Trials Program
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