Philanthropy In Action
Giving Back to the Front Line | Stitching Hope | Investing in Optimism | Stronger and Healthier Together: Elena's Story | Supporting Women on their Journey to Health | Donor Support Provides Compassionate Care | Care for Cancer Survivors | Improving Care for Sibley's Older Patients | Advanced Stroke Life Support | Sibley Stroke Support Group | Cancer Support Group | Emergency Department | Bio Bank | Silberman Family Special Care Nursery | Simulation Training | Wink
Giving Back to the Front Line
“Sibley is on my team – they’re not just doing their job, they’re with you.” Audrey, a cancer survivor who works for a human rights organization, says caring for one’s emotional health is as important as one’s physical health. From her primary care physician, Dr. Andrea Hulse, to her surgeon and radiation oncologist, Drs. Mildred Chernofsky and Victoria Croog, Audrey has always been impressed with the concern Sibley’s clinicians have shown for her overall well-being. From having her physician personally come to her bedside after surgery, to the many programs offered to cancer survivors under Oncology Survivorship Navigator Pam Goetz, Audrey loves how “Sibley feels like your neighborhood hospital, even though large and impressive.”
Audrey not only continues to travel to Sibley for her care since moving to Maryland, but also has contributed to both Sibley Memorial Hospital Foundation’s Doctors Day campaign and the Foundation’s Feed the Frontline Fund, which helps feed our care teams amidst COVID-19. Audrey remarks that she is confident Sibley’s staff is meeting this current challenge by providing excellent care to COVID-19 patients and communicating with their families, since they have already shown her they attend not only to a patient’s physical needs, but provide emotional care to patients and families as well.
Thank you, Audrey, for your support and trust in Sibley!
Photo: Margaret Fisher showcasing a pillow at National Healthcare Volunteer Week.
Margaret Fisher became acquainted with Sibley over 13 years ago after she and her family moved to Washington, DC and she began taking care of her elderly mother. Margaret wanted to get more involved with the hospital through volunteering, so she began to sew heart-shaped pillows for breast cancer patients to aid in their recovery. The pillows fit comfortably under a patient’s arm and can relieve surgical incision pain, protect against accidental bumps, help ease edema, and relieve shoulder tension. The heart pillows are given to patients immediately post-op to aid in recuperation.
By 2015, Margaret was sewing up to 50 pillows each month. A breast cancer survivor herself, Margaret says while she can’t meet the patients and recipients of her efforts, she wants to encourage them. Along with each heart pillow, Margaret includes a note of encouragement and one of her favorite quotes, “May you weather this storm cloud and quickly see the rainbow of HOPE with comfort and healing."
Margaret used the rainbow as a visual to help her through her own chemotherapy when she received treatment at Sibley during her second reoccurrence of cancer. On her last day of treatment, Margaret brought in rainbow roses and rainbow tarts for all of the Sibley staff who had helped her along the way. "Sibley is my family," Margaret said in reflecting upon the staff and volunteers she has met throughout her journey.
"It is my personal celebration every time I deliver these pillows to Sibley," says Margaret, who hopes her pillows and messages bring someone the same hope that the rainbow brought her.
Investing in Optimism
Photo: The radiation therapists, wearing t-shirts Henry brought on his last day of treatment, making a joke about increased water intake during his radiation treatment.
"I don’t invest in programs, I invest in people. And there's a pretty cool group of people at Sibley," says Henry Berman.
Henry and his wife Carole recently chose to make a philanthropic contribution to Sibley in honor of the care he received. His gift will support the research of Dr. Curtiland Deville, Clinical Director of Radiation Oncology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center at Sibley Memorial Hospital, and the Patricia Liberatore Fund, which supports cancer patients in need.
Henry came to the Kimmel Cancer Center at Sibley to explore treatment options after his cancer diagnosis. After meeting multiple physicians, Henry felt confident in his decision to pursue radiation treatment with Dr. Deville, whose comprehensive explanation and treatment plan, along with his understated confidence and calming demeanor, set the tone for Henry’s time at the Kimmel Cancer Center.
From Freddy, a radiation oncology aide, to Vivian, a radiation oncology nurse (who Henry calls the "crown jewel" of the department), and Dr. Deville himself – Henry says everyone made him feel like the only patient they had. His positive attitude no doubt contributed to his experience. "You have to find a way to make it fun. You can go in and be really depressed and think the world is ending or you can go in and have fun —people hit the pitches you throw."
Henry quickly started referring to Dr. Deville as "Dr. Chill" and wearing themed t-shirts to his treatments. On his last day of treatment, Henry wore a Looney Tunes tee with "That’s All Folks" plastered across the front.
Henry and Carole hope their contribution will improve the quality of life for future patients and help those who struggle financially with cancer treatment. Above all, he wants to make a difference for all who cared for him along his journey. Thank you, Henry, for your generous support and for being such a positive force in our community!
Stronger and Healthier Together: Elena's Story
Before cancer, Elena Rudenko had been very active. In addition to working full time as a programmer, she had a subscription to the Metropolitan Opera in New York and traveled there regularly to go to shows, visit friends, and spend time with her daughter and granddaughter. The year before she was treated for cancer, she went hiking in Iceland with her daughter and her family.
Then came surgery and a diagnosis of cancer, and chemotherapy. Everything changed. “Suddenly I was doing nothing. I forgot what it was like to be normal,” says Elena. Friends and family were supportive and helpful, but Elena was feeling lost and in need of something else. So she decided to try Sibley’s cancer survivorship series, Stronger and Healthier Together, bit.ly/strongerhealthier.
The free, four-week program, which is made possible through generous donor contributions, provides education and resources to help cancer survivors improve their physical and emotional well-being through exercise, mind-body practices, nutrition, and more.
"This program was exactly the missing piece in the larger support network," says Elena. "The information and support I received from the group was different from what I got from my doctors, my family and friends, coworkers, or online communities."
As part of the series, Elena had three meetings with Jill, a health coach. “She told me, ‘This is the new normal.’ She helped me see what I could do.” While she isn’t yet up to traveling to New York to go to the opera, she instead goes to a local movie theater and watches broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera there.
“It’s a great series,” says Elena, who is thankful for the donor support that makes Stronger and Healthier Together possible. “It’s money well spent—it’s an investment in people, in us.”
Supporting Women on Their Journey to Health
“For many women, hair is a symbol of who they are,” says Carolyn Keller, founder of EBeauty, a nonprofit organization that runs the only national wig exchange in the country. Carolyn has a long relationship with Sibley—her daughter and her grandchildren were Sibley babies, and Sibley was her hospital when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and needed a mastectomy, and later, chemotherapy.
After completing chemotherapy, Carolyn put away the wigs that she had used during treatment. When her sister-in-law was diagnosed with cancer, Carolyn gave her one of the wigs, telling her to pass it on to someone else when she was done with treatments.
“When another sister-in-law was diagnosed, I had an ‘Aha’ moment with the wigs.” Today, her nonprofit organization, EBeauty, runs the only national wig exchange in the country.
EBeauty has worked with Sibley since it was created in 2011 and last year Sibley became one of the first hospitals to open a small kiosk to provide wigs on-site to women who need them. Carolyn works closely with Sibley’s breast cancer navigator, Jennie Tarica. “Jennie has been a major influence on our program, but more importantly she has taken patient navigation care to another level.”
In addition to partnering with Sibley through EBeauty, Carolyn has also chosen to support the hospital through philanthropic contributions that benefit cancer survivorship programs and the Johns Hopkins Women’s Health Center at Sibley. “The new Women’s Health Center is the future of care for women,” she says. “It’s important to support your local hospital and to bring this kind of quality care to your community.”
Donor Support Provides Compassionate Care
Photo: Ana Steele Clark, with her husband John.
"The staff in Dr. Magnant's office could not have been more helpful, efficient, patient, and warm."
— Ana Steele Clark, grateful patient
Ana Steele Clark discovered the lump in her breast unexpectedly, but she was fortunate to find a team that was ready to move swiftly to provide treatment and get her back to health. "I believe the speed saved me from God knows what kind of outcome," she says.
Ana had been having heartbeat irregularities for about a year, so her cardiologist, Dr. Edward Bodurian, had her wear a heart monitor for 30 days. One day, she was removing the wiring to take a shower when she discovered a lump in her breast. She immediately contacted her gynecologist, Dr. Susan Hurson. "She examined me, looked me in the eye, and said 'We need a surgeon'." She then called the office of Dr. Colette Magnant, Director of Sibley's Sullivan Breast Cancer Center.
Dr. Magnant examined Ana and ordered a same-day biopsy, which revealed a small but highly aggressive cancer. Two weeks later, Dr. Magnant removed the cancer—less than a month after Ana had discovered the lump. After surgery, Ana received radiation treatment at Sibley under the watchful eye of Dr. Jean Wright, Director of the Breast Cancer Program, Department of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences at Johns Hopkins.
One day, about half way through her radiation treatments, Ana suddenly felt overwhelmed with panic. "I had been feeling fine," she says. "I had no idea where it suddenly came from." She went to her appointment and didn't say anything about how she was feeling. As she was being prepped for treatment, one of the technicians working with her that day asked about the music routinely playing in the treatment room and asked Ana if she would like something else, saying, "Do you like opera?"
Ana was stunned. She had worked at the National Endowment for the Arts for 33 years, and served as Acting Chair of the Endowment in the early 1990s, but she had never mentioned her work nor her love of classical music to anyone during her treatments. Ana said yes and the technicians stepped into the other room and started the music—Andrea Bocelli singing Schubert's "Ave Maria."
"All of my terrible worry and terror just went away. I was suddenly in another place—calm and peaceful." Ana says that to this day, she wonders how the technician could have guessed that she loved that music, or the effect that it would have on her. She calls it a "lovely mystery."
Ana, now cancer-free, continues to follow up with hormone therapy and regular check-ups with Dr. Patricia Rizzo, a medical oncologist affiliated with Sibley. Of the team that swung into action to treat her that spring she says "The care and support of the team—the receptionists, technicians, and nurses, as well as the amazing Dr. Magnant herself and my other wonderful doctors—all worked to keep me from being upset, overwrought, and frightened. Such a lovely group of skilled and caring women!"
Care for Cancer Survivors
Photo: Kay Cartwright and fellow cancer survivor Judy Evans
Learn more about the class.
"Yoga saved my mental health," says Kay Cartwright. She had always thought of yoga as something that was a bit alternative, but when she read about Sibley’s weekly Yoga for Cancer Survivors class in the Sibley Senior Association newsletter she decided to give it a try. There, she met Judy Evans, a fellow cancer survivor who had recently moved to Washington and was looking for a community that she could be part of. After meeting in class they discovered they lived only blocks away from each other, and quickly became friends. They are part of a close-knit group of patients and survivors who come to class at Sibley each week.
Since 2014, Sibley has offered free yoga and meditation classes for cancer patients, survivors, and family members, thanks to generous support from the Weist Fund. The classes are one of the ways we help people address the challenges of cancer treatment and survivorship. “It really creates community for people during an anxious time in their lives,” says Pam Goetz, Sibley’s Survivorship Navigator.
Cancer survivors may be dealing with the trauma of a diagnosis and the side effects of treatment. They may feel betrayed by or disconnected from their bodies. Yoga becomes a way for people to trust their body again and learn how to safely exercise after treatment. Meditation can help with anxiety and manage stress. “These classes help people put their lives back together after cancer derails them,” says Pam.
Both women love that the class is gentle, with an emphasis on relaxation and breathing, and the appreciate the knowledge of Erica, the yoga instructor, who has specialized training in yoga for cancer survivors. They also love the camaraderie of the group. Or, as Judy describes it, "It's more than just a support group—we are a class of warriors!”
Improving Care for Sibley's Older Patients
Photo: Sibley Volunteer, Margaret, and Geriatrics Nurse Navigator, Matt Brown
Matt’s position was funded for 3 years by the Foundation.
“Thanks to the Sibley Foundation, the NICHE program has been able to expand its program, to include not only geriatric education for the nursing and ancillary staff, but also to include a Geriatric Nurse Navigator to help with safe senior patient transitions after they leave the hospital. Patients have expressed that receiving a phone call at home after discharge, from the navigator, has put them at ease knowing that there is a connection back at the hospital if they need it.”
—Suzanne Dutton, N.P.
Advanced Stroke Life Support
Photo: Sibley Stroke Team at the ASLS training at the Miller School of Medicine University, Miami
An anonymous donor gave $1 million to fund the Stroke Program.
"May 4th and 5th nine Sibley nurses attended the ASLS (Advanced Stroke Life Support) training at the Miller School of Medicine University Miami. The training course fees, accommodation and traveling costs were very generously provided through philanthropy. The staff that attended are responsible for coming back and training the Sibley staff on ASLS."
Sibley Stroke Support Group
Photo: Jennifer Knittig, Stroke Coordinator, with Stroke Support Group members
An anonymous donor gave $1 million to fund the Stroke Program.
"Every 3rd Wednesday of the month the Sibley Stroke Support Group meets. Over a light lunch, the stroke survivors and caregivers participate in sessions with speakers and stroke program staff."
— Jennifer Knittig
Cancer Support Group
Photo: Liz Tamasi, Oncology Social Worker, Emily Sower, N.P., Palliative Care and patients
A grateful patient with advanced breast cancer donated $2,000 to launch this support group.
"Through generous support we have been able to start a support group for individuals with advanced cancer. Meeting every other week, the group allows for an openness and understanding amongst metastatic patients that other cancer support groups may not provide. Patients regularly voice how incredibly helpful and meaningful the group is to this unique patient population."
— Liz Tamasi
Oncology Social Worker
Photo: Sibley nurses working on a Pyxis machine
The Pyxis machine was funded by a gift from grateful patients.
"Thanks to donor support, the Emergency Department got a Pyxis machine. Pyxis is a medication dispensing machine that allows the nurse to stay in the room when critical medications are needed that are not on the crash cart. Keeping the team together is important with patients in distress. Among others, the machine houses medications to stop a seizure and to paralyze someone for intubation."
— Jennifer Abele, M.D.
Chair, Emergency Department
Photo: Jim Powers, M.D.
Dr. Lin received a $1 million gift from a grateful patient in support of his research and program development.
"In memory of Dr. Jim Powers, we launched a research project called the ‘Bio Bank’ in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University. Our Sibley specific program would include acquisition of tumor and serum specimens from women with adnexal or uterine cancer and register and store them at Sibley."
—Jeffrey Lin, M.D.
Director, Gynecologic Oncology and Gynecologic Surgery
Silberman Family Special Care Nursery
Photo: Silberman Family Special Care Nursery nurses
This training is funded through our Young Professionals Board.
"Due to your generous philanthropic support, there are currently 17 certified RNs in Special Care Nursery (almost 60% of Special Care Nursery nurses)."
Nurse Manager, Special Care Nursery
Photo: An emergency department simulation
A grateful patient gave $125,000 to fund simulation trainings for 5 years.
"Thanks to many donors, we have had around 18 simulation days and run two scenarios per day. All of the ED physicians and 40 nurses have participated. Our goal is to continue these incredibly valuable trainings as we move into the new Emergency Department."
— Jennifer Abele, M.D.
Chair, Emergency Department
Photo: Physician caring for baby in the Special Care Nursery
‘Wink' is funded through our Young Professionals Board.
"Thanks to the Foundation, we have been able to launch ‘Wink’ for parents that have babies in the Special Care Nursery. This secure video conferencing ability provides precious bonding for moms and dads with their babies."
— Pauline Solomita
Nurse Manager, Special Care Nursery