In Memory of Carrie Dozbaba

Lover of animals, eclectic taste in music, a thirst for knowledge and a heart brimmed with wanderlust – Carrie Dozbaba was a jewel on this planet.  Greg and Carrie met in 2009 – both in their mid-40s and without children, their love blossomed and grew. On May 21, 2011 Greg and Carrie got married at the Little White Chapel in Las Vegas surrounded by a group of family and friends, with Elvis Presley walking Carrie down the aisle and singing soulfully at their reception. This Vegas trip would become an annual tradition each May, followed by a mystery trip in September, and a cruise to kick-off the New Year. They both loved to travel, go to live concerts, and enjoy the best life had to offer. It wasn’t until 2016 that these travels would come to a halt as Carrie’s health became unpredictable.

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In September 2016 Carrie Dozbaba had a cough and as a registered nurse, she thought she was experiencing seasonal allergies but decided to get a check-up after the cough would not let up. After an x-ray, Carrie’s doctors thought she had pneumonia and prescribed antibiotics to help bring her back to health. Soon after, she found a small lump in her breast and knew she had to go back to the doctor to find out what was going on with her health. After the lump was found to be cancerous, Carrie was scheduled for surgery to remove the lump. Leading up to surgery doctors noticed something in her lungs. What was originally thought to be pneumonia was now diagnosed as Stage 4 lung cancer. Lutheran Medical Center Oncologist Dr. Christopher Jones began treating Carrie’s cancer with chemotherapy. After testing the cells in her lungs, doctors could not find the primary source of her cancer.

Carrie was incredibly intelligent. The daughter of a doctor, Carrie spent much of her childhood traveling with her family. She had a degree in nutrition, a master’s degree in music, and finally found her calling in nursing. Carrie received her nursing degree and enjoyed caring for patients as the manager of a dialysis clinic. A true local, she graduated just down the road at Wheat Ridge High School while her dad, Dr. Earl Chandler, delivered babies at Lutheran Medical Center and had a successful OBGYN practice for over 30 years.

Chemotherapy was hard for Carrie – the lack of appetite, and difficulty of finding options that worked for her. “Dr. Jones was never one of the doctors who gave us a “4 months to live” timeline, he gave us a lot of hope and always had other options for Carrie to try”, Greg reflected, remembering Carrie’s struggles with cancer. A week after Carrie’s diagnosis she woke up unable to breathe as the tumor in her lungs had grown and cut off her airway. Dr. Wendy Nekritz provided emergency radiation to reduce the size of the tumor, making it easier for her to breathe. From that day forward Carrie required oxygen, and it seemed that the chemotherapy was helping as scans started to show improvement. Carrie did her best to stay healthy and active throughout treatment and could be seen walking several times a week at the Wheat Ridge Recreation Center. This was the beginning of a rollercoaster ride, as Carrie would get better, and then worse, with her doctors trying their best to offer new forms of treatment to defeat her cancer. Unfortunately Carrie’s cancer was incredibly aggressive and she passed away June 16, 2017 – just 12 days after crossing the finish line at the 2017 Heroes of Hope race.

 [L to R] Briana Zimbelman, RN, Carrie and Greg Dozbaba, and Taryn Anderson, RN at the 2017 Heroes of Hope race. 

[L to R] Briana Zimbelman, RN, Carrie and Greg Dozbaba, and Taryn Anderson, RN at the 2017 Heroes of Hope race. 

Greg Dozbaba has been an attendee of the former Leaves of Hope race since 2008 – before he had met Carrie. This local event was close to home and provided great exercise, and after meeting Carrie they attended together as their annual summer race. At the 2017 Heroes of Hope race Carrie was able to walk the full mile – a great milestone for her, and an inspiration to those in attendance. Carrie was always thankful for her care and hoped to join Lutheran’s Infusion Center team as a nurse after her recovery, which unfortunately never came to fruition. After losing Carrie, Greg continued to attend the Cancer Support Groups offered by Lutheran Medical Center. “It is helpful to talk with other people that are in your shoes. When you are diagnosed you feel very alone, and this [support group] brought comfort.” Greg has found some healing working with other patients and families through the Cancer Survivor and Grief Support Groups at Lutheran.

Heroes of Hope this year will be bitter sweet for Greg, especially being the first year to attend without Carrie. “I’m looking forward to honoring Carrie, and seeing people that I know. Last year Carrie wrote on the Hope Scarf “Cancer sucks, don’t let it win” – this year I will wear my cancer sucks shirt in her honor”. For individuals like Greg, and many families that attend this annual event to honor their loved ones, their heroes live on in their memories. Help us celebrate Carrie, and so many others who fought courageously against this terrible disease. Be a part of their hope and healing, and cheer on the survivors that are with us. Visit www.LutheranHeroesofHope.org to register for the race on Saturday, June 2nd.

 

New Beginnings and New Challenges

 Lauren and Steve Perfors

Lauren and Steve Perfors

Few moments in life are more precious than the news of bringing new life into this world. Lauren and Steve Perfors were elated to learn that they were pregnant with their first child in January 2018. Only a week later, this young family got a shock when test results showed that Lauren was not only pregnant, but was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.

 

“This diagnosis was totally out of the blue,” Lauren described. Having no family history of breast cancer the disease was not top of mind, especially not while in her 30s. Lauren had felt a small lump in her breast, but with a busy life full of home renovations and business ownership, this small warning sign went unchecked for a month. “Before I got the official diagnosis I was very scared. I had done some research and wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep the baby.” Worry became a reality after breast and lymph node biopsies showed positive signs of breast cancer – but with a team of world class physicians at Lutheran Medical Center and National Jewish, along with community and family support, Lauren did not have to let her worries get the best of her. Soon after her official cancer diagnosis, Lauren learned that she and her supportive husband had the tools to fight her cancer and would be able to keep the precious life growing inside of her.

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Lauren’s doctors worked to develop a treatment plan that would allow her to fight the disease and keep her child. Dr. Elizabeth Brew, of Surgical Specialists of Colorado, surgically removed her affected breast and after recovering from surgery, Lauren started AC chemotherapy at National Jewish, which she will continue to have once every three weeks through her 2nd trimester. “After beginning chemotherapy I had to slow life down a bit. As a business owner I always operated at a fast pace of work and slowing down was a big change,” she shared. Through the support of her oncologist Dr. Christopher Jones, along with her nurses and staff of the lymphedema clinic at Cancer Centers of Colorado at Lutheran, Lauren never faced her battle alone. 

“There’s a difference between interacting with people who are just doing their job, and those who truly care. Through this journey I’ve met doctors and nurses who care about me as a whole person and want to see me succeed”. 
 Lauren sticking with her running routine through treatment.

Lauren sticking with her running routine through treatment.

Through her treatment Lauren is staying active and in touch with the activities she loves. An avid runner and volleyball player, Lauren has kept running as a healthy habit both before and after her diagnosis. After learning about the Heroes of Hope race in the City of Wheat Ridge Connections newsletter, Lauren signed up to race with her husband and friends. “I’ve had to learn to ask and accept help through this experience – you cannot go through this alone”. Friends and family got together to host a chemo kick-off party to support Lauren through her tough journey ahead. Guests brought gifts of blankets, tea, chemo-friendly mouthwash and more to help with her recovery. They even raised funds to help support the cost of her care.

“Sharing with my family and friends has been really motivating for me. The outpouring of support has been phenomenal. I have kept everyone informed of my journey though social media – I want to show others that you can do this and that you are not alone”.  Through support from the Lutheran Foundation, Lauren and her husband Steve will attend Cancer Con this year and become connected with more survivors and resources in the community.

 Lauren and Steve Perfors, 18 weeks pregnant.

Lauren and Steve Perfors, 18 weeks pregnant.

Having a positive attitude has kept Lauren in good spirits, along with the outpouring support of friends and family both near and far. You can join Lauren at the Heroes of Hope race on June 2, 2018 where she will race alongside friends and husband at six months pregnant. “Steve will be running with a pregnant belly suit – just to even the playing field!” she exclaims. The Perfors family looks forward to welcoming a new baby girl in September 2018, after which time she will finish an additional 12 weeks of chemotherapy and radiation – with plans for a second mastectomy and breast reconstruction in 2019.

Be a Hero of Hope in our community and join Lauren and Lutheran Medical Center Foundation on Saturday, June 2nd for the Heroes of Hope race and National Cancer Survivors Day® Celebration. Be a part of this annual celebration and let our survivors and families know: they are never alone in their fight with cancer. To register or for more event information visit www.LutheranHeroesofHope.org.

Debbie's Story of Survivorship

Debbie's Story of Survivorship

Debbie was born and raised just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and grew up with her twin and younger sister. An opportunity to re-locate to the Midwest landed Debbie in the Denver metro area where she could soak up Colorado’s beautiful sun and enjoy all of the magnificent outdoor activities the area has to offer. Debbie had found a small lump in her breast while in the shower, but thought nothing of it at the time. Being only 35, and with a life full of changes, the last thing on her mind was cancer. But after a family member was diagnosed with cancer, she promised herself that she would get the lump checked. Debbie received the unfortunate news that the lump was breast cancer, and with the support of Lutheran’s doctors Debbie’s healing journey began.

"Support is an Important Part of Going Through Cancer, You Cannot Do It Alone"

Most everyone is aware of the importance of seeing your doctor for a yearly physical. Even if you are healthy, annual physicals can help set a baseline of what is healthy for you and your body. For Jon Ludwig, remembering to go to the doctor each year helped catch the early signs of illness that developed into early stages of myeloma.

Victoria's Story of Survivorship

Expert care, when you need it most.

Patients all across the Denver metro community arrive at Lutheran Medical Center not feeling their best, and oftentimes with the anxiety of not knowing what’s wrong with their health. Patients like Victoria know how a minor health concern can turn into something more serious in a matter of weeks, and through the compassionate care of Lutheran’s caregivers, can be brought back to a healing state.

Victoria, her husband Frank, and their three sons enjoy a mostly quiet life in the Lakewood community. Living in Colorado for more than 18 years, Victoria and her family adore spending time with their two pure-bred shepherds, Ruby Rose and Kaiser, along with gardening, and keeping their eyes peeled for the majestic plumage of local birds. In the fall of 2015, Victoria began dealing with digestive issues, and visited her primary care doctor to review these concerns. Her physician advised her to take some over the counter medications for the discomfort she was experiencing, and to follow-up if this course of treatment did not help her condition. Being under the age of 50 at the time, and with no family history of cancer, a colonoscopy was not recommended.

After a few days of medication, Victoria still was not feeling well. She went to the Emergency Room at Lutheran, where she was given a medication that should have provided her with relief. It did not, and did quite the opposite – this medication made her sicker. At that time, the caregivers in the ER knew something wasn’t right, and began running more tests to see what was really going on. After being admitted, doctors found Victoria had colorectal cancer that had also spread to her liver. Within a week of her frightening trip to the ER, Victoria found herself in the capable hands of Dr. Jennifer Caskey and team.

Every step of the way, Cancer Centers of Colorado at Lutheran Medical Center walked Victoria through her treatment plan.

“Dr. Caskey was great in helping to explain my diagnosis, answering questions and ensuring my family and I knew what to expect while I underwent my treatment,” Victoria says. “The medical team provided me with options when I had them, and explained in detail what every procedure would entail.” Victoria underwent liver radioablation, a non-invasive procedure which heats up cancerous tumors to help them shrink. No stitches, or lengthy recovery, Victoria was able to return home the same day.

The nurses in the infusion center are great. They know me by name, and ask if I would like a snack or warm blanket. Their care makes all the difference, and helps me feel at ease.
— Victoria

Starting January 2016, Victoria began chemotherapy treatments every other week to fight her cancer. “The nurses in the infusion center are great. They know me by name, and ask if I would like a snack or warm blanket. Their care makes all the difference, and helps me feel at ease,” she says. The cancer center also provided Victoria with community resources and support groups, ensuring that she never felt alone through her fight with cancer.

More than a year has passed, and Victoria’s tumors are responding well to treatment and are shrinking. Victoria will continue to receive maintenance chemotherapy into the future, and her doctors feel her prognosis is bright. Victoria is a cancer survivor, with many more years of family, gardening and bird watching to look forward to. Patients just like Victoria come to Lutheran frightened and unsure of what to expect, and leave with a feeling of empowerment over their own health.

Be a hero for cancer survivors in our community. Join Cancer Centers of Colorado and Lutheran Medical Center for the 10th anniversary Heroes of Hope Run/Walk on June 4. Help to inspire the countless cancer survivors in our community, and show support for the families and individuals who face their cancer diagnosis with courage and dignity. For those who have fought courageously, and for those still fighting – become a Hero of Hope today.

Leaves of Hope to Heroes of Hope: A Family Tradition

 
 

Stories of cancer survivorship can be seen every year at the Leaves of Hope Run/Walk and National Cancer Survivors Day Celebration.  Generations of families come out to Lutheran Medical Center’s beautiful Wheat Ridge campus the first Sunday in June to support survivors in our community, and remember those who battled courageously. For Donna Ross and her daughter Jen, the first Sunday in June is a special time to remember the courage, strength and beauty of their mother and grandmother, Judy Kraft.

Judy, Jennifer and Donna had the opportunity to attend every Leaves of Hope race together since 2007. “Leaves of Hope was my mom’s favorite event of the year,” Donna remembered, sharing their excitement of attending the race together, “as soon as registration was available we would get our tickets, with Mom excited to see if she got one of the first bib numbers”. (As you can see by the picture below, Judy made sure to register early to get the best bib number possible, 0002 to be exact). 

 Judy and her dog Patches enjoy the 2012 Leaves of Hope race. 

Judy and her dog Patches enjoy the 2012 Leaves of Hope race. 

 Judy was unexpectedly diagnosed with lung cancer after a trip to Lutheran Medical Center’s emergency department late one evening. Her strength and resiliency helped her fight lung cancer three times , each year never missing a chance to be present at the Leaves of Hope race. “It was important for my mom to come and meet other survivors, in hopes that she could maybe help them through their journey and feel supported.” Each year Judy and Donna attended the Leaves of Hope race together. While Judy wasn’t always able to walk a full mile, every step was a small victory. Judy enjoyed having a special meal with other survivors, making new friends and feeling connected with the community. The Health and Safety Fair helped to connect Judy with community resources, “my mom especially appreciated the chair massages offered by Bridges Integrative Health and Wellness” Donna remembered fondly. Each race renewed her spirit and courage to continue battling cancer.   

“My mom was so focused on living life she never let her diagnosis slow her down. She found courage and strength through the support of our community and hospital”. Each year hundreds of cancer survivors at all stages of treatment and diagnoses along with their families, friends and nearly 1,000 runners, volunteers and vendors join Lutheran Medical Center in celebrating survivorship. 

 After being diagnosed with cancer, Donna and Judy traveled as often as they could and enjoyed every moment together. Pictured above, Donna and Judy visit California’s beaches.

After being diagnosed with cancer, Donna and Judy traveled as often as they could and enjoyed every moment together. Pictured above, Donna and Judy visit California’s beaches.

Judy Kraft fought with courage and dignity until her passing on July 23, 2014. To honor her mother’s memory Donna, her daughter Jennifer and Patches, Judy’s rescued miniature dachshund, continue to race and be a part of the celebration. Through the support of community partners and participants, funds raised at the Leaves of Hope race help to provide patient navigation, survivor and nurse education, genetic counseling and patient care for hundreds facing cancer issues.

Join Donna, Jennifer, and Patches (who still joins in the celebration of Judy’s life at the race each year) on Sunday, June 4, 2017 at the NEW Heroes of Hope Run/Walk! To honor the 10th anniversary of the race on campus, Lutheran Medical Center is proud to share our new race name, and begin a new chapter of celebrations at Lutheran Medical Center. Celebrate with survivors, help to inspire those who are recently diagnosed, and support families who have lost their loved ones to cancer and be a Hero of Hope in our community. Register today to participate in the 5K Run/Walk, 10K Run, or 1 milk walk in this annual dog and stroller friendly race. Click here to show your courage against cancer, and be an everyday hero in our community!

Give Where You Live

Karen, like so many neighbors in our community, had fallen on hard times after losing her job. She struggled to make ends meet, and even after gaining new employment was unable to remain in her long-time home.

Karen moved into temporary housing while she worked hard to pick up the pieces and strengthen her financial situation. Her dream of a better life changed drastically when a yearly mammogram turned into a breast cancer diagnoses. Karen felt paralyzed, but as she began her battle with breast cancer she was never alone.

Cancer Centers of Colorado’s skilled team of oncology-trained nurses, physicians, and surgeons supported Karen and made sure she understood her diagnosis and the treatment options available to her. Support from our community ensured Karen would have access to the best, state-of-the-art cancer treatments and equipment. Using breast brachytherapy, skilled surgeons placed catheters in Karen’s breast tissue to deliver radiation treatment directly to the cancer cells. This advanced and effective treatment allowed Karen’s breast cancer to be treated with great precision while protecting her healthy tissue.

While undergoing treatment patient navigators helped connect Karen with local support groups, allowing her to meet other survivors and be introduced to a community network of support.

Throughout every step of her journey, Lutheran Medical Center made sure Karen was treated body, mind, and spirit. The greatest miracle of all, a miracle that you helped make happen, was when Karen was able to finally move into permanent housing thanks to the support of care management staff and Foundation funding.

The weight of her stress lifted, Karen was able to focus fully on her health and recovery and is proud to now be cancer free. For the first time since losing her home and beginning her breast cancer battle, Karen shared a Thanksgiving feast in her new home with renewed hope for the future and a clean bill of health.

Won’t you help to create more miracles in our community?

Make a gift today and help support patients like Karen by visiting www.supportlutheran.org.

2014 Leaves of Hope gets national attention!

Coping With Cancer magazine and website, publications written by and for the cancer community, included the 2014 Leaves of Hope Run/Walk and Cancer Survivors Celebration on their coverage of National Cancer Survivors Day!

 

Coping With Cancer is read in print by more than 500,000 people in various healthcare settings each year. The website, which is advertisement-free and full of useful information about cancer and living with cancer, brings the magazine's content plus additional resources to millions of users each year.

Visit Coping With Cancer online at copingmag.com/cwc

SAVE THE DATE! The 2015 Leaves of Hope Run/Walk and Cancer Survivors Celebration will be held Sunday, June 7, 2015 at Lutheran Medical Center!

Steps toward survival

Steps toward survival

By Hugh Johnson, Wheat Ridge Transcript

Some people run to stay healthy, others jog to experience the beauty of the Colorado summer. Those who attended Exempla Lutheran Medical Center’s Leaves of Hope Run/Walk Sunday ran for a different reason, to celebrate life.

In conjunction with National Cancer Survivor’s Day, Exempla Lutheran hosted its seventh Leaves of Hope Run/Walk in celebration of the 14 million cancer survivors in America. A sunny day that included breakfast for cancer survivors, music, snow cones and more, the event featured a kids 100-yard dash, a 1-mile family walk, a 5k run/walk and a 10k run/walk in which participants got run along the Crown Hill Lake Park.

Read more: http://wheatridgetranscript.com/stories/Steps-toward-survival,156539