Holy Cross Cancer Blog

A Word from our Patient

  • Posted Jun 05, 2013
  • By Holy Cross Administrator

I have nothing but glowing and positive comments regarding the care that I received from Holy Cross.  To me, there is no other facility that I would entrust my life with!  From the day that I first met Dr. Patrick Amar and his caring and supportive staff, to meeting Dr. Christina Gomez and her caring and dedicated staff, I knew that I was where I should be.

two hands, each reaching for the other My journey with colon cancer began last March 2012.  I was feeling extremely fatigued and weak and went for a check up with my primary care physician. He thought I might have a bleeding ulcer, as I had had a colonoscopy three years prior and everything had been normal.  He referred me back to the gastroenterologist  for an endoscopy.  Fortunately for me, the gastroenterologist was no longer on my insurance plan and I needed to find a new specialist.  My friend suggested that I try aHoly Cross physician as she had only wonderful experiences with Holy Cross and felt comfortable in referring me there.  I thank God that I took her advice for that is how I came to choose Dr. Amar, who saved my life. 

At my consultation appointment, Dr. Amar suggested that I not only have an endoscopy but also a colonoscopy and the procedures were scheduled for the following week.  I will never forget that day and how shocked I was at hearing that I had colon cancer.  Dr. Amar and my husband each took one of my hands and gave me the bad news.  I know it sounds crazy now, but even when I was hearing the awful diagnosis, I was very comforted by Dr. Amar’s reassuring and kind words.  I returned to Dr. Amar’s office to meet with Sherry Saunders, my guardian angel (who prayed for me and sent me cards every week!), who outlined the next course of action.  I was referred to Dr. Abhijit Basu for surgery and to Dr. Christina Gomez at the Michael and Dianne Bienes Comprehensive Cancer Center for my cancer treatment. Sherry told me that I would love Dr. Gomez and I am forever grateful to her for referring me.

The first day that I met Dr. Gomez, I knew that I had found “my” doctor. She is just brilliant. She was compassionate, caring, and very passionate about her work and her patients.  She and the fantastic Cathy Baranski, RN explained in great detail my treatment plan and what to expect. They put my mind at ease!  My family and I felt very comfortable with Dr. Gomez, Cathy and Marjorie.  In fact, we fell in love with them and with the entire Cancer Center.  Chemotherapy is tough but I have to tell you that all I ever felt at the Cancer Center was love and support.  Just walking through the doors put a smile on my face as I knew I was with people who cared about me.  All of my nurses were so caring and supportive!  I love all of them, Sylvia, Cathy, Pat, Loren, Patricia, Kathy, Lynn plus the administrative staff, Brandi and Bonnie.  They kept my spirits up and were so encouraging every step of the way. 

I feel very blessed to have had the level of care that Holy Cross afforded me.  I feel that I have made life long relationships with Dr. Gomez and Dr. Amar and their wonderful staffs.  I know that I would not be here today if it were not for them.  I am so thankful to all of them.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to let you know how appreciative I am to Holy Cross and to my wonderful doctors!

Thank you again.
Kindest regards,
Cathy Bewley

Colon Cancer: A Patient’s Journey

  • Posted May 21, 2013
  • By Holy Cross Administrator

“I knew something was wrong because my body was different, especially my bowel system. For a long time, I didn’t do anything about it because it was almost an embarrassment.” This is an all too familiar statement because it is hard to believe that it can happen to us. Colorectal cancer can happen to anyone and it did to 41-year-old Yvette Brown.

After a year of silent suffering, she told her husband of her symptoms, and he encouraged her to see a physician.

Two days after her colonoscopy, performed by Holy Cross Medical Group gastroenterologist Patrick Amar, MD, Yvette was diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer. “Everything happened quickly…a whirlwind of physicians, nurses and staff members in a well-choreographed dance, all working to ensure a safe and positive outcome for me. I cannot say enough about the kindness and warmth that Dr. Amar showed me. His entire office staff is like family to me. I worked extra hard at getting better just knowing they were all rooting for me. Sherry [Saunders, Dr. Amar’s Office Manager] is my champion…She went to mass each morning and said a prayer for me. I am deeply touched that another human being, who didn’t know me until the day she had to schedule a series of appointments for me, could exhibit such compassion towards me.”

Sherry helped coordinate Yvette’s care with the Michael and Dianne Bienes Comprehensive Cancer Center team of physicians: Manjesh Lingamurthy, MD, Hematologist/Oncologist; Irina Grosman, MD, Radiation Oncologist; Abhijit Basu, MD, Colorectal Surgeon; and Moises Lichtinger, MD, Gynecologist Oncologist.

Due to her young age and how aggressive the tumor was, Yvette’s physicians agreed on a careful but aggressive treatment plan: chemotherapy (24/7 through a port in her chest), radiation therapy (five days a week) for six weeks and surgery to remove the tumor. Her final surgery was performed six months after her diagnosis. The journey was rough, but Yvette found motivation from her two children, “both of whom I felt were not yet ready to live in this world without me.”

Yvette with Dr. Lingamurthy

Yvette with Dr. Lingamurthy

Through the support of her family, the physicians, nurses, and other healthcare staff at Holy Cross, Yvette has maintained a clean bill of health since her final surgery.

“I feel compelled to commend Holy Cross Hospital and the Holy Cross Medical Group for the pleasant spaces and nice ambiance. When a person is sick and has to undergo treatment, it helps to be in a nice environment with a warm and friendly staff. Every room I entered at the hospital was furnished with a cross. This helped tremendously. I only had to think of the great sacrifice that Jesus made for us and how, therefore, could I be discouraged?”

Yvette offers advice to Colorectal Cancer patients, “Take heart and be strong. Have faith that God will get you through this. Practice positive thinking; don’t waste energy feeling sorry for yourself. Have regular conversations with God. He won’t let you down.”  


We did it...Holy Cross and the ACS Enroll 196 for CPS-3!

  • Posted May 14, 2013
  • By Holy Cross Administrator

ks16951On behalf of Maureen Mann, Executive Director of the Bienes Cancer Center at Holy Cross Hospital, and the American Cancer Society – thank you to everyone who enrolled in the CPS-3 study, promoted the study and/or recruited someone for enrollment.

Holy Cross Hospital's official goal was 192; and we surpassed it with 196 enrollees!

If applicable, please remember:
1. To complete your paper or online survey within the next week if you have not yet done so.
2. To complete and submit the white postcard at the appropriate time in the future (applicable females only).
3. You and yours can still participate. The national goal is 300,000 enrolleees. For more locations and enrollment dates in South Florida and nationwide, visit:


Breast Biopsies 2013

  • Posted Apr 23, 2013
  • By Holy Cross Administrator

footprintsThe vast majority of women who undergo a screening mammogram have a normal study and return in six to 12 months for follow-up. Only two percent are usually referred for a biopsy. Prior to the early 1990s, all biopsies were performed in surgery, removing that part of the breast that contained the abnormality. Surgery could lead to a diminished breast size and scarring, with the scarring sometimes simulating signs of a malignancy, making it more difficult to interpret future mammograms.

Over the past twenty years, this has changed, and only a small number of women have surgical biopsies. Stereotactic biopsies (using mammographic guidance), ultrasound-guided biopsies, and MRI-guided biopsies (collectively called image-guided biopsies) have replaced the surgical biopsy. They have proven to be as accurate, less disfiguring and less costly. These procedures are all performed at the Dorothy Mangurian Comprehensive Women’s Center at Holy Cross HealthPlex and at Holy Cross Hospital. All of these procedures are accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR), and very few centers have achieved this accreditation. The ACR rigorously evaluates the equipment, technical personnel and physicians before granting accreditation. The ACR recommends that the biopsies be done at accredited centers and that the mammograms and ultrasounds leading up to the diagnosis be performed at accredited centers as well.

The type of biopsy a patient needs is usually the choice of the radiologist and depends on which modality best displays the abnormality. The three types of image-guided biopsies are technically similar: they are done under local anesthesia, and the biopsy needles are similar. The procedures are extremely accurate. We have successfully removed cancers as small as 2mm with the stereotactic biopsy. The biopsies have few complications. Some women develop hematomas, and less than one out of 1,000 develop an infection. The good news is that the majority of the biopsies prove to be negative. In large part because of annual screening, of those biopsies that are positive, most are either non-invasive or Stage 1 - the earliest stage, with the best prognosis.

The non-surgical, image-guided biopsy has become an integral part in the diagnosis of breast cancer over the past 20 years, proving to be as accurate, more cost-effective and less disfiguring than a surgical biopsy.

To schedule an appointment for women’s imaging with the ACR accredited Dorothy Mangurian Comprehensive Women’s Center, call 954-351-7800 or visit HolyCrossWomensCenter.com.

Guest Blogger
Howard A. Rubinson, MD, Diagnostic Radiology
Dorothy Mangurian Comprehensive Women’s Center

See you at Relay for Life of HOPE - April 19 & 20

  • Posted Apr 17, 2013
  • By Holy Cross Administrator


Join us at Relay For Life of HOPE Oakland Park
April 19, 2013
Jaco Pastorius Park, 4000 N Dixie Hwy, Oakland Park

Several Holy Cross Hospital teams and other organizations will be present.

Relay for Life is an American Cancer Society event. An organized, overnight community fundraising walk, it features:

  • Teams of people camped out around a track
  • Members of each team take turns walking around the track
  • Food, games and activities provide entertainment and build camaraderie
  • Family-friendly environment for the entire community

Because it’s a team event, individual participants are not required to be there the entire time. But it's so much fun, you'll find it hard to leave! Click here for more information.   


Cancer Center Accredited with Commendation from ACOS Commission on Cancer

  • Posted Apr 09, 2013
  • By Holy Cross Administrator

31The Bienes Cancer Center at Holy Cross Hospital recently received official notification that it received a full three year Accreditation with Commendation from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer from the survey that took place last November.

For the Patient and Community, the quality standards established by the CoC for cancer programs ensure:


  • Comprehensive care including a complete range of state-of-the-art services and equipment
  • A multidisciplinary team approach to coordinate the best available treatment options
  • Information about ongoing cancer clinical trials and new treatment options
  • Access to prevention and early detection programs, cancer education, and support services
  • A cancer registry that offers lifelong patient follow-up 
  • Ongoing monitoring and improvements in cancer care AND
  • Quality care, close to home Congratulations to our Cancer team!  

- Maureen Maureen G. Mann, MS, MBA, FACHE
Executive Director Michael and Dianne Bienes Cancer Center Holy Cross Hospital  

Join the movement for more birthdays. Enroll in CPS-3.

  • Posted Mar 19, 2013
  • By Holy Cross Administrator

If you've ever known someone with cancer, you know that birthdays are a very significant milestone.

There are nearly 13.7 million people in America who have survived cancer and countless more who have avoided it - who will be celebrating birthdays this year. You can join the movement for more birthdays and the fight against cancer by enrolling in a new research study called the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3).

The American Cancer Society's Epidemiology Research Program is inviting men and women between the ages of 30 and 65 years who have no personal history of cancer to join this historic research study. The ultimate goal is to enroll at least 300,000 adults from various racial and ethnic backgrounds from across the U.S.

By joining CPS-3, you can help us understand how to prevent cancer, which will save lives and give people more of their most precious resource - time. More time with their families and friends, more memories, more celebrations and more birthdays.

Holy Cross Hospital is trying to enroll 200 people on May 9 in the Sister Innocent Conference Center. Won't you join us between 630-1030 am or 330-730 pm?

Visit www.seeuthere.com/cps3enroll/browardcofl to enroll and to learn more.

Coping with Cancer

  • Posted Mar 05, 2013
  • By Holy Cross Administrator

ist1_893090-tender-careJoin us on Saturday, April 13, 2013 - 8:15am to 3:30pm for the free "I Can Cope" program at the Michael and Dianne Bienes Comprehensive Cancer Center, 2nd Floor Atrium, at Holy Cross Hospital (4725 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308).

As Broward County’s leading cancer center, we emphasize the “Can” in cancer. I Can Cope is a free program designed to assist patients and families with the challenges associated with cancer. Our specialists, leaders in their field, discuss medical options, diet, physical fitness and the emotional impact of the disease.

Refreshments will be served throughout the day.

RSVP by calling 954-267-7770.

Click here for the day's agenda.

Dietitian’s Corner

  • Posted Feb 19, 2013
  • By Holy Cross Administrator

legumesNutrition support and intervention remain relevant to all aspects of cancer treatment. Why? They provide the opportunity to help prevent or control comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension, heart disease, and may help prevent the formation and growth of more cancer tumors.

The American Cancer Society recommends consuming a healthy diet with  emphasis on plant sources.  It is important for us to choose foods and beverages in amounts that help us achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Eat five or more servings a day of a variety of vegetables and fruits. Choose whole grains in preference to processed refined grains. Limit consumption of processed and red meats.  Visit www.choosemyplate.gov.

Remember to hydrate daily because it is critical to health maintenance.  We should have at least 64 ounces of water daily. We need to balance much needed proteins, which contain essential amino acids for the repair of our cells and creation of new ones, fruits and vegetables, plus grains including carbohydrates.  Make sure to include your dairy products as well.  Practice good nutrition for proper body healing and an improved quality of life.  Food is as critical to the soul as one’s state of mind. Here’s to your health and well-being!                                                                                -Monica Malinetescu


Loving through Clinical Trials

  • Posted Feb 12, 2013
  • By Holy Cross Administrator

love and clinical trialsThe Cancer Research Team is grateful for those who share their time, spirit and dedication by participating in clinical trials to further our mission of promoting wellness among cancer survivors.  We are grateful for all the staff and volunteers who contribute to the welfare of our patients.  We have shared laughter and tears together, but we never give up.  We develop lasting friendships with patients and their families. We remember those who have given of themselves while participating in clinical trials inorder to  help future patients achieve a better quality of life.

The Research Team wishes all of you a Happy Valentine's Day and thanks you for the love you show your fellow man by participating in clinical trials.


Below is a commentary from Maureen G. Mann, MS, MBA, FACHE, Executive Director of the Michael and Dianne Bienes Cancer Center at Holy Cross Hospital, urging lawmakers to oppose House Bill 169. 

"...I am a very involved volunteer with the American Cancer Society...so this particular bill causes me great concern. Please see the notes below and VOTE NO when this bill comes to the floor...

Oppose House Bill 169
Nicotine Products & Nicotine Dispensing Device

Originally, the intent of HB 169 was to prohibit the sale of nicotine products and nicotine dispensing devices (e-cigarettes) to minors. However, added amendment language would strip local governments of their ability to regulate all tobacco products and e-cigarettes, overturn existing ordinances, and block future opportunities to protect kids in the retail environment. For example, many of the product placement ordinances we currently have in Florida go beyond the minimum standards set by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), requiring that ALL tobacco products are placed behind the counter at retail stores, not just cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. With the preemption language, the bill now does more harm than good in the fight to keep Florida’s children tobacco free.

Key Points
Many of the ordinances we currently have in Florida deal with product placement, requiring that all tobacco, not just cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, are placed behind the counter at retail stores. They are stronger than the minimum standards required by the FDA and are all meant to keep tobacco
products out of the hands of children.

In-store tobacco displays serve to increase product availability, visibility and brand awareness and stimulate trial and purchase of products.1 Product placement laws limit youth access to tobacco via illegal sales and shoplifting.
Proponents for preemption claim that we need a uniform state law that covers all businesses rather than a patchwork of local ordinances. The fact is retailers are used to complying with a variety of local laws, including zoning, traffic restrictions, health regulations and even alcohol sales. Tobacco regulations
are no different than other regulations that vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.        
Local governments are more flexible and responsive than state government in effectively dealing with emerging problems and finding innovative solutions. Local governments are closer to the community and have been more effective than the state or federal government in addressing the problem of
tobacco use.

My Position
State laws should serve as a minimum standard for a policy objective while allowing communities to enact stronger ordinances to protect their youth and residents in the most appropriate manner. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and our partners ask that you oppose HB 169 and prevent the dismantlement of effective local tobacco ordinances around the state."


About the Center

The Michael & Dianne Bienes Comprehensive Cancer Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida is the Cancer Care Leader in Broward County. Dedicated to providing patients with precise diagnosis, the latest and most advanced treatment and aftercare options, we offer a multidisciplinary approach to care, a compassionate and spiritual healing environment, and an affiliation with the National Cancer Institute. We are also working together with Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center to provide South Florida residents with rapid access to specialized cancer care and genetics counseling.

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