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PATIENTS INSPIRE TOP DOCS

Thanks to advances
in early detection and treatment

Thanks to advances in early detection and treatment, an estimated 16 million cancer survivors are living in the U.S. today. Yet survivorship presents unique and often unexpected challenges. Survivors may have difficulty returning to former roles in the workplace or the home, and some face physical, emotional, and financial hurdles. SMIL Medical Imaging is proud of our commitment to four mission-driven partnerships that support survivors and their families in the communities we serve.

A 2nd Act
After Judy Pearson recovered from breast cancer, she came to an unsettling realization: She wasn't the same person anymore. She'd emerged from the cocoon of intense treatment and discovered the disease had transformed not just her cells but her psyche. "The scariest day of a life is when you're diagnosed with cancer," Pearson says. "The second scariest day is when they say to you, 'OK, you're done,' and you find yourself in freefall."
As an award-winning writer, Pearson had written about volunteering and learned "there is healing in helping." With that in mind, she founded A 2nd Act. The nonprofit hosts workshops and social events to help women cancer survivors create a second act by channeling their passions and experience toward the greater good. They might launch an organization, volunteer, or write a book. "Whatever it is, it takes the focus off yourself and shines that energy out to something else," Pearson says. "And the excitement you feel - that becomes your focus."
Once survivors have engaged in their second act, they can audition for S.T.A.R.S., a storytelling event in which eight women inspire an audience with tales of transformation. "It's the best pay-it-forward love fest ever," Pearson says. S.T.A.R.S. takes place March 24 at Scottsdale Center for the Arts. For more information, visit a2ndact.org.

The Big Dig
Once a year, pediatric cancer patients see their Tonka construction toys come to life, thanks to The Big Dig. The American Cancer Society partners with more than 90 sponsors to transform a dirt lot in Phoenix into the construction site of kids' dreams. "Kids get to put on their hardhats and safety vests and see what it's like in the life of a construction worker," says Ryan Hollaender, senior development manager of distinguished events at American Cancer Society.
Toddlers to teenagers can dig holes with an excavator under the supervision of a construction worker, ride a scissor lift, and clamber over bulldozers and dump trucks. "The biggest thing is it takes their and their siblings' minds off of the hardship that cancer brings to the family and lets them just be a kid and be excited," Hollaender says.
Last November's Big Dig raised $255,000 for pediatric cancer research. The private event attracted 1,400 participants - pediatric cancer patients, sponsors, and their families. To learn about becoming a sponsor, email ryan.hollaender@cancer.org.

Gals on the Run
As a nurse practitioner in oncology, Heather Anderson knows exercise and wellness are essential to cancer recovery and help prevent recurrence. She also knows many patients are reluctant to get active. So in 2016, she founded Gals on the Run, a fitness group for female cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. "I wanted to provide an outlet where we could expose them to new exercise experiences and they could not only work on health and wellness, but also support one another," says Anderson, a triathlete and marathoner.
The group typically meets three Saturdays a month to walk or jog around a Scottsdale park. Occasionally, they'll mix in yoga or CrossFit. They participate in the Run FORE Cancer and Tri for the Cure AZ, a beginner friendly triathlon and 5K event. And last year, Gals on the Run awarded four $500 grants to survivors promoting health and survivorship.
In addition to boosting their health, the Gals have formed a close bond, Anderson says. "They've just become really good friends and a support network for one another." galsontherunaz.org

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer
In 2004, after Coleen McKinstry finished her treatment for breast cancer, she participated in her first American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. The experience changed her life. "It was amazing to see so many survivors," she says. "Being around all these people who had gone through what I had gone through was so uplifting and so emotional for me."
McKinstry now works for the American Cancer Society and organizes the walk. In 2018, the event attracted 20,000 participants and $1.1 million that will go toward breast cancer research, transportation and accommodation programs to help patients get to their treatments, and support services including patient navigators.
The walk is celebratory, fun and very pink, with live music, a giant inflatable chair for group photos, a survivor breakfast, food trucks, and a kids zone. It's a day when survivors feel honored and newly diagnosed patients feel hope. "We're all members of a sorority that we didn't ask to join," McKinstry says of survivorship. "But look at how many of us there are and how we stick together and support each other." makingstrides.acsevents.org

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