eNewsletter - News and Notes

Penn State Philanthropist is Way Above Par…In This Case, That's a Good ThingWarren Gittlen

Earlier this month, leaders from Penn State, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, and the College of Medicine, along with more than 125 guests, gathered to celebrate the longstanding philanthropic partnership of Warren Gittlen and the Jake Gittlen Memorial Golf Tournament. The Gittlen family and the Tournament - which Warren started in 1970 to honor the memory of his father, Jake, and support cancer research at Penn State Hershey - have collectively given more than $23 million to further scientific discovery through the Jake Gittlen Laboratories for Cancer Research.

The lobby of the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute was named in honor of the Tournament's generosity. Click here for the full story

Free Wig Program Provides a Sense of Comfort and JoyFree wig program

During a recent appointment at the Cancer Institute, patient Patricia Greene of Palmyra chatted with Wig Salon volunteer Linda Breniser who helped her find the perfect color and style wig at the start of her treatment.

When Patricia Greene learned she would need a stem cell transplant and probably lose her hair, she remembered signs she had seen around the Cancer Institute at Penn State Hershey about a wig program where patients could get fitted for a free wig.

The Palmyra woman stopped by the Wig Salon - located inside the first floor infusion  room - to chat with volunteer and breast cancer survivor Linda Breniser. Together, they tried different colors and styles until they found one suitable for Greene.

"I wanted to be prepared for when I lost my hair, but I wouldn't have had time to go elsewhere and look for a wig," Greene said. "It is such an awesome program. To lose your hair is really hard on a woman and they were so considerate and kind and patient… it made me feel so much better."

Earlier this week, representatives from the American Cancer Society came to Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Wig Salon's opening, and the fact that Salon volunteers have fitted 228 women with free wigs since then – more than any other Wig Salon in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Click here for the full story.

Inspired Together: Nurses and Staff Create Hope for Healing Fund

When the nurses and staff at Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute found out that patients had a need for financial assistance related to their treatment, they got together and created the Hope for Healing Fund.  The Hope for Healing Cancer Institute Patient Fund is an employee-driven initiative created to assist outpatient adult Cancer Institute patients with treatment-related expenses. All monies raised benefit Cancer Institute patients.

The fund has served over forty patients with Giant gift cards. Patients can use these gift cards for fuel, food and medical supplies. 

The public has supported this initiative by raising funds through a variety of initiatives, including a homerun derby at Lebanon High School organized by a student at the school, and the Rolling Hope 2014 Riding for the Cure ride hosted by a motorcycle organization in Gettysburg in which all proceeds were donated to the fund. The most touching was a young girl who made and sold bracelets in honor of a family member battling breast cancer. She donated $227 to the fund.

The staff has also had fundraisers to help replenish this fund. T-shirts featuring the Hope for Healing logo are available for purchase. Many staff members participated in the Highmark Walk on behalf of Penn State Hershey. A silent auction with baskets donated by many staff was held, as well as a craft show at the Brownstone Masonic Lodge in Hershey.

The nurses and staff involved want to continue this effort as long as there is a patient need. For more information about the Hope for Healing fund, and for information about how to donate or purchase a T-shirt, please contact Michelle Carraher at 717-531-5647.

Waves of Peace Added to Infusion Therapy Waiting AreaWaves of Peace Stained Glass Window

Thank you, Dan and Jill Burstein of New Hope Glass, pictured with Dr. Raymond Hohl, director of the Cancer Institute, for creating the Waves of Peace stained glass art creation recently installed in the Infusion Therapy waiting area. Center Stage, Penn State Hershey's arts in healthcare program, worked with the artists and the Cancer Institute to make it happen. 


Bone Marrow Transplant Program Earns Reaccreditation - Recognition comes after rigorous review by national organization

Penn State Hershey's bone marrow transplant program once again earned accreditation by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT). This marks the fifth consecutive time that the program has been recognized by FACT, which reviewed the Medical Center's clinical bone marrow transplant program, as well as bone marrow and cellular therapy product collection and processing facilities.

FACT standards are evidence-based requirements set by teams of world-renowned experts in cellular therapy. FACT is the only accrediting organization that addresses all quality aspects of cellular therapy treatments.

"FACT accreditation sends the message that Penn State Hershey strives to achieve the highest level of care for cellular therapy treatment programs," said Dr. Witold Rybka, professor of medicine and pathology, and director of the Medical Center's bone marrow transplant program.

The program received initial FACT accreditation in 2001 and was reaccredited in 2004, 2008, 2011 and 2014. Click here for the full story.

Growth and Success Inspire New Name

The Penn State Hershey Melanoma Center has changed its name to the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center upon approval from Dr. A. Craig Hillemeier, CEO of Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Penn State's senior vice president for health affairs, and dean of the College of Medicine. The goal of the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center is to have all faculty with an interest in skin cancer at Penn State Hershey, Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State University work in a coordinated way so that more can be achieved than by operating separately.

The Center's continued growth and success in research and clinical arenas of the Melanoma Center led to the need for adjustment in its branding. As with all successful centers, it has evolved and grown to include non-melanoma skin cancers in its clinical practice and is increasingly being asked to expand this aspect into research endeavors. In response to this, and to be more inclusive of the community, the center's leadership proposed a plan to include all skin oncology in the center and to rebrand the center to represent this change. This has already occurred in the clinics and will now be formalized across the entire center with the result of increasing the membership of the center.  For more information or questions about the change, please contact Dr. Gavin Robertson at gprobertson@hmc.psu.edu.

New SoundHealth Podcast Features Dr. Niraj GusaniNiraj Gusani, M.D.

As part of National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Niraj Gusani, who heads the Program for Liver, Pancreas and Foregut Tumors at the Cancer Institute, recently participated in a SoundHealth podcast to discuss pancreatic cancer—one of the most dreaded cancer diagnoses. It often proves deadly because it's typically aggressive, yet causes few or no symptoms until the late stages. As with many forms of cancer, there is hope for a cure when it's caught early–and many promising treatments for those with pancreatic cancer in any stage. Listen to the full podcast here.