Surviving Well: Stefanie, Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML),, 720.560.1611Stefanie Jacobs is familiar with the medical industry—her mother is a retired psychiatrist, her father is a retired rheumatologist, and her sister is an occupational therapist. Stefanie is also familiar with Rose Medical Center in particular—her husband is a nurse at Rose, her daughter was born at Rose, and Stefanie herself was born at Rose.

Although the pattern would suggest that Stefanie works in the medical industry, she actually does not. Stefanie is a writer and strategic marketing consultant with her own business. She lives with her husband, 10-year-old daughter and their sweet dog.

In November 2012, Stefanie set up an appointment with a new primary care physician. She had been seeing only her OB/GYN for a while, and decided it was time to schedule an annual physical.

Her appointment went well, but her doctor noticed something odd. Stefanie’s doctor was able to feel her spleen during the exam, but showed no other symptoms. She completed a blood test and left, reassured that she was in good hands.

As it turned out, Stefanie’s spleen was quite enlarged, and her blood test revealed that her white blood cell count was extremely high.  Stefanie’s doctor called her to discuss the results.

Based on the evidence, it was determined that Stefanie likely had chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).  She immediately scheduled an appointment with Rose oncologist Dr. Alan Feiner. A bone marrow biopsy the next day confirmed their suspicions and ruled out any possible spreading of the cancer.

“I really had no symptoms,” says Stefanie.

Since she had not noticed anything indicating that there might be something wrong, her diagnosis came as a shock. It was (and still is) difficult for Stefanie to believe she was sick.  Instead, she found the silver lining and was grateful for how quickly she was able to get an official diagnosis and begin treatment.

She describes the moment she heard her diagnosis:

“[It was] overwhelming and scary and … just a whole lot of questions. I was pretty lucky because I only had to wait a very short time to get good answers. And knowing almost immediately that it was very treatable and curable was a huge relief,” she says.

“I think having a positive attitude is essential,” she says.,, 720.560.1611The first step in Stefanie’s treatment began right away, and she was put on a heavy dosage of medication for a few days to bring down her white blood cell count. She then began a targeted oral chemotherapy for CML.

“It was surprisingly easy. Just taking a pill every day,” she says.

Her treatment continues to be relatively simple, and she has noticed very few side effects.

“It’s not time consuming, it’s really not intrusive … and literally, if I don’t tell someone I have cancer, they would never know,” she says.

Stefanie is undeniably positive, and she tends to see the good in things.  She has not been without frustration, however. During the initial phases of her treatment, it became clear that the standard dosage of chemotherapy medication was too much for someone Stefanie’s size. Her medical team continues to monitor and work to find the most effective dosage of chemotherapy medication for Stefanie, while ensuring it is something she can tolerate.

“I think the hardest part is not quite knowing if we’re getting it right. Or feeling like we’re getting it right and then not having it be successful,” says Stefanie.

She also admits that she has struggled to adjust her lifestyle. “[It] has been [difficult] adjusting to needing to take better care of myself, because I’m pretty good at going full-on, which isn’t very good for me. But it’s good for everyone else!” she laughs.

Despite the challenge of adapting to living with cancer, Stefanie remains unshaken.  She is confident in Dr. Feiner and her medical team and feels supported by her friends at Rose.

“Dr. Feiner is great. He’s smart and thorough, and he really cares.  It’s obvious how much he cares. I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Feiner and his office,” she says. Stefanie has made valuable connections with the people she has encountered.

“When you go in to get your blood checked every week, or more than once a week, it’s really nice to see friendly faces and people who care and know you—and to develop those kind of relationships.”

As Stefanie and her medical team work to perfect her dosage of chemotherapy medication, she remains grateful for the progress that has been made in cancer research and corresponding treatments.

“Honestly, I’m very lucky to have the kind of cancer that I do. I’m lucky that it’s as treatable as it is, and lucky that I found out about it when I did,” she says.

To her, the evolution of new cancer treatments is a source of comfort and inspiration. Stefanie believes advancements in any area of cancer treatment are an indication of promise for people with all types of cancer. And she is adamant that donations to cancer research – no matter the amount – are critical to the advancement of cancer treatments and cures.

“I think it’s really remarkable that cancer has come such a long way in terms of the treatments that are out there,” says Stefanie.  “About 10 years ago, my disease was a fatal one. Now, it’s completely treatable and curable. So I would say the biggest thing is not to give up hope and to know that there are options out there. That the research being done today really is changing lives … and it’s changing lives in our lifetime.”

The Rose “Surviving Well” calendar is a 12-month calendar highlighting our cancer services, physicians and inspirational stories from our patients. Stefanie is our survivor for April.,, 720.560.1611



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Meet Rose’s DAISY Award Winner for April – Diana Manchek!

Diana (right) receiving the Rose Daisy Award.

Diana (right) receiving the Rose Daisy Award.

Congratulations to Diana Manchek on becoming the sixth Rose DAISY Award winner! As a case manager on Rose’s medical oncology unit, Diana has touched the lives of patients and loved ones on Rose’s 5th floor. She has been nominated for the Rose DAISY Award numerous times by patients, families and physicians.

This month’s award was quite the surprise, as Diana serves on Rose’s DAISY committee and has always been involved in picking the prior winners. Her co-committee members had a very difficult time keeping this a secret!

In the award announcement, it was shared that “Diana takes the time to sit with patients and families as they come to understand, through her gentle communication, what their disease means, what they can expect in their care and assists them as they make a plan for their future.”

Diana goes above and beyond her role as a case manager by forging meaningful and trusting relationships with those she encounters at Rose. By offering her support, compassion and empathy to patients and their families, Diana helps people cope with the difficulties associated with cancer.

Diana (center) with fellow staff members.

Diana (center) with fellow staff members.

A spouse of one of the patients Diana cared for shared her appreciation for Diana’s efforts to make her husband feel comfortable during his hospital stay: “Diana helped him set up shop at the hospital,” she says in reference to the accommodations Diana helped make so that her husband could continue to work while undergoing treatment.

Rose oncologist Dr. Alan Feiner also nominated Diana: “Diana has worked to improve the whole cancer team experience for patients and families, from start to finish!”

Diana is a nurse who takes it upon herself to positively impact the lives of those she encounters, and she is truly an integral part of the team at Rose.

Congratulations to Diana, case management and the 5th floor at Rose!

If you want to nominate a compassionate Rose nurse for the DAISY Award, please contact us through our website or look for DAISY Award nomination forms around the hospital.

The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses was born to honor the skillful and compassionate care provided by nurses. DAISY stands for Diseases Attacking the Immune System, and nurses who receive the DAISY Award are honored in a number of ways. They receive a certificate, a DAISY Award pin and a beautiful hand-crafted sculpture entitled A Healer’s Touch. The winner’s department is also recognized with a banner to display and Cinnabon® cinnamon rolls.

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Pain management during labor

Pregnant Woman in Labor

Guest post:

Are you starting to think about labor and wondering how you will cope with the pain?

Many women are nervous and don’t know where to begin. Whether you are planning to labor without pain medicine or with an epidural, you will experience at least some powerful contractions. It is helpful for you and your support people to have an idea of what will help. The great news is that all of us have coping mechanisms that we have used and that work for us, you just may not recognize them.

Answer these questions: When you stub your toe, bang your knee or bonk your head on the cupboard what do you do? When you are feeling stressed or ill, what do you do?

We can organize coping mechanisms into five categories, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile, visual and olfactory. Most likely you will find several modalities that have worked for you in the past.

Here is a list of various coping mechanisms and how they can be utilized during labor:

Auditory- This is a coping mechanism for you if: you tend to moan, groan, chant or even swear when you get hurt; or if you listen to or play music, meditate using mantras or talk to someone trusted when you are feeling down or stressed.

How to use it: I think this is the least recognized of the methods people use every day. A majority of people make some kind of noise when they stub their toe, but for some reason people think that labor should be a quiet process. I am not advocating screaming, but mantras or moans in a nice alto range can be very helpful. Try a gentle “oh” with exhalations. Music is great in labor. Music creates a mood, can be calming or bring energy. Bring a variety of music with you to the hospital. There are some women who even sing in labor. (Check out YouTube videos for inspiration).

Pregnant Woman with Headphones

Kinesthetic- Consider this mode if you: Jump around, rock or shake the injured limb when you get hurt or if you find exercise, hiking or walking to be soothing.

How to use it: If you are a mover, then get out of that bed! Use a birthing ball or rocking chair when you need to rest, otherwise walk or slow dance with your support person. Rose Medical Center has cordless monitors, so you can move even when your baby needs to be monitored. If you honor you natural need to move, you will find positions that will help your baby descend into your pelvis. Rhythm is a common pattern for people who cope using a kinesthetic modality. This may be simply shaking your hand, tapping your foot or rocking to music. (Look at for ideas).

Visual- When you go to the dentist or get stuck in traffic if you imagine yourself on a beach this is a good modality for you. If you light candles and dim the lights to relax, this might be your coping method.

How to use it: Women often have a favorite place that they can visualize. The more senses that can be pulled into the visualization, the more powerful it becomes. Work with your support people so that they can help you “go” to your happy place, not just what you see, but feel, smell, taste and hear when you are there. Imagery is when you “see” your contractions gently opening your cervix and your baby getting lower with each wave. You can use imagery to prepare for labor and increase confidence by imagining yourself coping well with the different stages. Consider the lighting in the room, and keep it tidy.

Pregnant Woman Foot Rub

Tactile- This will work for you if you: Rub the injury or need a hug when things go wrong. If a soak in the tub or a massage makes all your troubles go away, keep this mode in mind.

How to use it: Most of us know how good a gentle touch or loving hug can make us feel. Massage or strategically placed pressure on your sacrum can be very helpful in labor. Your support person doesn’t have to be professionally  trained–a little lotion and a foot rub can transport you away from contractions. A touch to tensed muscles can remind you to relax between contractions. Warning to support people: often women become very sensitive to touch at the end of labor. Do not take it personally if the laboring woman all of a sudden tells you “don’t touch me.” What worked in early labor may not work during transition. Hydrotherapy is incredibly effective in labor. Take advantage of the big tubs in the labor rooms at Rose.

Olfactory- If you sniff every candle in the store or have a supply of essential oils, consider this modality.

How to use it: Women are often sensitive to odors in labor. Support people, please don’t eat stinky fish or French fries in the room! Essential oils work very well for providing a lovely scent that you can easily control. A drop or two on a cotton ball is all it takes to scent a room. If the scent begins to annoy, or you want a different scent, just put the cotton in a plastic bag and take it away.

As you prepare for labor, pay attention to the things in your life that bring you peace, build your confidence, distract you and help you relax. Work with your support team to identify coping methods that can be translated into use during labor.

Best of luck!

Jennifer Fields CNM, MS 

Rose Midwifery

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Surviving Well: Hope, Colon Cancer,, 720.560.1611Hope Hawn is no stranger to intense situations. As a victim advocate for the Lakewood Police Department, Hope responds to crisis calls to provide comfort, support and referrals. Ironically, Hope has never felt particularly comfortable around doctors. For many years, she avoided doctors altogether.

“For some reason, I’ve always had this strong fear of doctors. So I’ve resisted going to the doctor, and I hadn’t had a physical in like 22 years,” she says.

But when her mother was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in October 2012, Hope started feeling pressure from friends and family to finally visit the place she had long avoided—the doctor’s office.

“I always assumed if I did the right things, that I didn’t need to worry about it,” she says.

Her mother, having undergone surgery after her cancer was discovered, encouraged Hope to get a colonoscopy. Hope’s three sisters were equally persistent, and when a close friend asked her about the last time she had had a physical, she told him not to go there.

She explained her fear of doctors and remained convinced that she didn’t need a physical. Believing she was fine, and feeling just that way, she decided against going to the doctor.

Eventually, at the urging of friends and family, she finally agreed to schedule an appointment to prove them wrong.

“So I called and made an appointment, fully expecting to go in and have the doctor say, ‘Oh everything’s great, see you in about another 20 years!’” she says.

Finally confronting her fears, Hope went in for her physical. The doctor called her about a week later to tell her she had low iron and that it was probably normal for someone her age. Hope was advised to schedule her first colonoscopy, just to be certain.

She called gastroenterologist Dr. Jonathan Fishman at Rose Medical Center to set up a consultation. Dr. Fishman also believed that her low iron levels could be due to her age, and it wasn’t particularly unusual to have that deficiency. Offering emotional support, a nurse comforted Hope, suggesting she treat herself after the procedure. Expecting a clean bill of health, or perhaps instructions to take iron supplements, Hope had her first colonoscopy.

When she woke up, Dr. Fishman was with her. He explained the results of her colonoscopy, and gave her a difficult diagnosis. Hope had colorectal cancer.

“About then I almost fell off the table,” says Hope, recalling the shock.

Rose colorectal surgeon Dr. David Longcope walked into Hope’s room, and the two instantly recognized each other. They had gotten to know each other months earlier—Dr. Longcope was her mother’s surgeon too.,, 720.560.1611“Oh I think [Dr. Longcope] is outstanding. In fact, if I hadn’t had seen him in the emergency room, I probably would have gotten up and said, ‘I’m not having the surgery,’ or ran away. But because I knew him from my mom’s experience, and [because] he has a very calming effect… I think that’s the one thing that kept me from not just getting up that day and going, ‘OK, I’m not going to face this!’ or running out of the room,” says Hope.

About a week later, during a surgical procedure, Dr. Longcope removed the tumor and approximately eight inches of Hope’s colon. She has been cancer free since the surgery.

“Rose was wonderful,” she says.  “I loved the hospital. The nurses were all really friendly and very attentive to my needs.”

Dr. Longcope told Hope that her tumor was particularly aggressive and that the timing turned out to be really good. If she had waited much longer, the cancer would have likely spread outside of her colon.

“He told me I was probably one of the luckiest women on earth,” Hope says.

Recovering very quickly, Hope left the hospital just two days after her surgery. She didn’t experience any complications, and she even worried Dr. Longcope when she went without any pain medication.

“Actually it went really well,” she says of her procedure.

Hope was diagnosed in April 2013. About a week after her diagnosis, she had surgery. By September, Hope and her sister were on a plane to Paris, France, to finally enjoy Hope’s “dream trip.”

She had to postpone her dream vacation when she found out she had cancer. After her surgery, Hope was finally able to take the trip as a celebration of all that she had overcome.

Now, she keeps a picture of Dr. Longcope on her desk. He was featured on the cover of 5280 magazine as one of the “Top Docs” in Colorado, and Hope can vouch for that herself.

“People say, ‘Oh is that your boyfriend?’” she says. “I say, ‘No, that’s the doctor that saved my life.’ So then I tell them, ‘You need to have a colonoscopy.’”

Since Hope’s experience with cancer, her perspective on visits to the doctor’s office has changed. She encourages others to be proactive about their health, and she is determined to adopt the same approach.

“Now I realize the importance of keeping on top of my health,” she says.

“The medical field is so far advanced these days that if you catch cancer early, then your chance of survival is very high,” she says. “So you shouldn’t let [the] fear of getting that diagnosis stop you from going in and being checked out.”

The Rose “Surviving Well” calendar is a 12-month calendar highlighting our cancer services, physicians and inspirational stories from our patients. Hope is our survivor for March.,, 720.560.1611

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Rose ranks in top 100 hospitals in the nation

TRU_100TOP_4cp_2014Rose Medical Center has been named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals® by Truven Health Analytics™ for the seventh time. Since 1993, Truven Health Analytics has been a leading provider of information and solutions to improve the cost and quality of healthcare. Each year, the study is conducted and top-performing hospitals are recognized.

The selections are determined according to a variety of criteria based on a national balanced scorecard. There are 10 categories used to evaluate hospital performance: mortality; inpatient complications; patient safety; average patient stay; expenses; profitability; patient satisfaction; adherence to clinical standards of care; post-discharge mortality; and readmission rates for acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), heart failure and pneumonia.

If all Medicare inpatients received the same level of care as those treated in the award-winning facilities:

  • More than 165,000 additional lives could be saved.
  • Nearly 90,000 additional patients could be complication-free
  • $5.4 billion could be saved.
  • The average patient stay would decrease by half a day.

Of course, if the same standards were applied to all inpatients, the impact would be even greater. Rose is honored to receive this recognition of efforts made to consistently improve healthcare and patient outcomes, and proud to be among the top hospitals in the country.

“Our vision at Rose is to provide insanely great care for our patients, and our continued recognition with this elite group of hospitals tells me that we are well on our way to that goal,” said Kenneth Feiler, President & CEO of Rose Medical Center. “I am so proud to work with our staff, physicians and volunteers who show commitment, passion and willingness to do what is right for every patient every day.”

Rose Frong

The winning hospitals were announced in the February 28 issue of Modern Healthcare magazine. For more information, view Rose’s news release or visit More information on Rose Medical Center can always be found at

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Preparing for daylight saving time

200214496-001Guest post:

On the second Sunday of March at 2 a.m. daylight saving time will begin, just as it has for years. This year, it happens to fall on March 9, and when we “spring forward” all of us will get one hour less to sleep.

By the time we finally roll our clocks back on the first Sunday of November, all of us will likely be well-adjusted to our schedules. But for many of us, the loss of one hour can affect our health, not to mention our moods.

While the impact seems trivial, most people are chronically sleep deprived, and the loss of just one hour could create difficulties for them.  One study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed an increase in automobile accidents during the first week following the time change.

You can improve your tolerance for the time change by following two easy steps.  First, try going to bed and getting up  a few minutes earlier each night prior to the change so that you are closer to the new schedule when it occurs.  Second, get lots of exposure to the sun or bright lights early in the daytime following the change to help your body adjust to the new time.

Some sleep disorders are more severe, and may require treatment. If you have a sleep problem such as insomnia, snoring or excessive sleepiness during the daytime, use the time change as an opportunity to discuss these issues with your physician.

Robert Turner, RPSGT

Clinical Supervisor

Rose Sleep Disorders Center

The Rose Sleep Disorders Center has been helping people in the Denver area with sleep issues for over 20 years. If you have specific questions about your sleep, please contact the Rose Sleep Disorders Center at Rose Medical Center at 303-320-7471.

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Surviving Well: Tamara, Breast Cancer,, 720.560.1611Tamara Berry has been working for Denver Water for 24 years, currently as an application developer.

Tami enjoys spending time with her husband and her 8-year-old daughter, who is in the 3rd grade. When she’s not cycling on her road bike, she enjoys kicking back and watching television.

In December 2012, Tami began to feel strange sensations in both of her breasts. Although she knew she should have a proper breast exam to evaluate what she had found, she didn’t think it was necessary to schedule an appointment.

Several months later, her 11-year-old nephew was running around the house when he accidentally struck her left breast. When Tami noticed an unusual amount of pain in her breast, she gave herself a breast exam.

“Basically the pain was just to get me in… to me [it was] like a warning sign to get in, to have somebody look at it,” she says.

During her self-exam, she felt a bunch of bumps, but couldn’t find anything particularly troubling. When her husband examined her next, he found the lump that her primary care physician, Dr. Crista Spears, would soon discover as well.

“I knew it was something serious because I saw her eyes get really big, and I’ve been going to Crista for years, and I’ve never seen her look like that,” Tami says.

A mammogram and an ultrasound were ordered but didn’t reveal much. The mammogram results were benign, but because of the unusual lumps in Tami’s breast, Rose mammographer Dr. John Lewin wanted to continue monitoring her for hormonal changes.

In late April 2013, Tami went in for her follow-up appointment, and an ultrasound revealed that her symptoms had remained the same. Deciding against scheduling an appointment in another six months, Dr. Lewin did a needle biopsy immediately, and called her soon after with the results.

Tami was diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer –a ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Because the cancer was hidden among cysts and dense breast tissue, Tami’s medical team was concerned about the true extent of the cancer.

Rose breast surgeon Dr. Barbara Schwartzberg met with Tami to discuss her surgical treatment options. As part of Tami’s breast cancer work up, Dr. Schwartzberg ordered an MRI of both breasts. The results of the MRI showed that Tami had a large area of DCIS and a suspicious mass. Tami was scheduled for another biopsy.

The next day, Tami received another diagnosis. It was more cancer, but this time it was an aggressive invasive ductal carcinoma. She was told that her chances of survival were 70 percent.

“I could handle the Stage 0, but when it got to the Stage 1 that’s when I kind of broke down,” says Tami.

Because Tami had such extensive cancer in her left breast, to effectively remove the cancer, she would have to undergo a mastectomy. She met with Rose medical oncologist Dr. Dev Paul. After running more tests, Dr. Paul told Tami that if she didn’t get a double mastectomy, there was roughly a 90 percent chance of her developing cancer in her right breast.,, 720.560.1611It was extremely difficult for Tami to process all of the information she had just received. She thanks Rose Breast Health Navigator Ingrid Van Den Abbeele for helping her through it. Dr. Marty Bernstein, Tami’s psychologist, has also been an ongoing source of support for Tami as she works to overcome any obstacles in her path to recovery, she says.

After coming to terms with her diagnosis, Tami decided to move forward with the double mastectomy.

“Of course, me being an accountant by nature, I decided, with the numbers, that it was just best to have a bilateral mastectomy,” says Tami. She admits that reaching this decision wasn’t easy.

“I still want to look nice, and sexy, but I don’t necessarily have to be so vain to where I wouldn’t get rid of my own breasts, and endanger my life. And I felt like they were endangering my life, so they needed to go,” she says.

Tami had the procedure about a month later, and Dr. Schwartzberg coordinated with Rose plastic surgeon Dr. John Bershof to simultaneously prepare for breast implants. Tami received a double mastectomy in May 2013, began chemotherapy in June, and by September she had finished her six rounds.

She has been cancer free since her surgery, but she continues taking medications along with chemotherapy treatments to ensure she remains healthy.

“I do miss my real breasts, I thought my real breasts were gorgeous. But when I look at myself now in the mirror, I feel like I have a badge of courage, a badge of honor, I feel like I’m invincible, fearless,” she says.

Tami has spent a lot of time at Rose, and she put her trust in Drs. Paul and Schwartzberg.

“Both of them are amazing, and everybody at the Rose Breast Center was telling me that I had a top-notch pool of doctors that are going to be working with me that are internationally known, that are respected in their field, that if Dr. Paul tells you he can get you to this level, you take that to the bank…” she says.

She found strength in the love she felt from her co-workers and her company.

“Everybody was just so supportive and loving, and just the outpouring of love that I got made me want to fight,” she says.

Of course, an immense amount of encouragement came from her family. “Once I was diagnosed with cancer it really put a different perspective on where we want to be and how we want our lives to be. It has brought us closer [and] we take each day, instead of taking it for granted, each day is a blessing.”

Her daughter, Tami says, saw little change in her daily routine. Although her daughter wasn’t fully aware of what Tami was going through, she knew it was significant and she supported her mother.

“She keeps making me all these little pink trinkets, little animals and stuff around the house, because she likes arts and crafts,” says Tami. “But I don’t think she knew the fight I was going to have to go through to be here with her. My whole fight was for my family, to make sure I was around—especially for my daughter.”

Tami is finally beginning the recovery process, and she remains incredibly thankful for all of the things that permitted her to deal with her cancer so successfully. She has persevered, and hopes to inspire others to do the same.

“You never can imagine what those people are going through until you walk in their shoes. Now that I’ve walked in their shoes, I’m very empathetic and sympathetic to any type of cancer patient,” says Tami.

The Rose “Surviving Well” calendar is a 12-month calendar highlighting our cancer services, physicians and inspirational stories from our patients. Tami is our survivor for February.,, 720.560.1611

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Meet Rose’s DAISY Award Winner for February – Delmarie Booker!


Delmarie (center) with the Rose DAISY Committee

Congratulations to the fifth Rose DAISY Award winner -Delmarie Booker, a nurse on Rose’s 4th floor. Delmarie was nominated by a patient’s family member.

The patient family member that nominated Delmarie shared this: “She shows that she is caring and has a great attitude. She loves what she does – it’s not just a job. She is caring and will do anything to make patients get better, and that empowers them so much. My father started to get very down, and she made him feel like it mattered if he got better and even made him smile. She explained everything to us, made the time to care for him right and with great compassionate care. She is one of a kind! Rose is a much better place because she is here. She put a smile on my father’s face and gave him the power to fight harder to get better.”


Delmarie (holding statue in the middle), with the 4Central team

Congratulations to Delmarie and the 4th floor team!

If you want to nominate a compassionate Rose nurse for the DAISY Award, please contact us through our website or look for DAISY Award nomination forms around the hospital.

The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses was born to honor the skillful and compassionate care provided by nurses. DAISY stands for Diseases Attacking the Immune System, and nurses who receive the DAISY Award are honored in a number of ways. They receive a certificate, a DAISY Award pin and a beautiful hand-crafted sculpture entitled A Healer’s Touch. The winner’s department is also recognized with a banner to display and Cinnabon® cinnamon rolls.

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Surviving Well: Erik, Thyroid Cancer,, 720.560.1611Erik Wells is a light-hearted and optimistic individual. He owns and operates his own construction business, doing cosmetic repairs in new homes. Erik values spending time with friends and family, and he lives with his wife and their dog in Thornton. Like many Coloradoans, he also enjoys camping, hiking, fishing and snowboarding.

Erik’s wife works at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center at Aurora, so when he finally told her about the enlarged lymph gland in his neck, she knew it needed to be looked at.

“When I told her, she about went through the ceiling, to be honest. She was pretty irritated and mad at me for letting it go. I had let it go for a couple of months, probably,” he says.

Although Erik had been aware of the enlarged lymph gland in his neck for a while, he didn’t think much of it. But after telling his wife what he had found, he understood the urgency of the situation, and they scheduled an appointment with their family doctor in June 2013.

The initial tests came back normal, but their doctor wanted to do an ultrasound and a biopsy too, just to be sure. It was a good thing the doctor decided to take extra precautions, because the procedures revealed that Erik had thyroid cancer. The doctor called him to give him his diagnosis.

“It was pretty shocking to begin with. I really didn’t even believe it, to be honest. I was just kind of in a daze,” says Erik.

Roughly one month after Erik’s diagnosis, he was prepared to have his thyroid surgically removed. Because of the nature of his ailment, Erik had planned on an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist performing the surgery. But when his endocrinologist recommended Dr. Kimberly Vanderveen at Rose Medical Center, Erik transferred to her care.

“After meeting her, to be honest, I was really happy that we did [transfer]. She’s wonderful, she’s a great, great doctor,” says Erik.

All things considered, Erik’s surgery was very successful. The procedure lasted longer than anticipated, partly because it was discovered that the thyroid cancer had spread to multiple lymph glands on the side of his neck, and those had to be removed along with the thyroid. Erik also had an extra vocal cord nerve branch that Dr. Vanderveen had to work around.

“You know, I’m actually pretty thankful that I decided to go with her because she’s really good. I mean, even after the fact, some of the things that I found out afterword, really make me happy that I chose her. I really like her a lot, and I’m glad that I used her, for sure,” says Erik.

Erik would later find out that Dr. Vanderveen was especially successful at removing his thyroid during the procedure.,, 720.560.1611“When I talked to my endocrinologist, she was telling me that my thyroid levels were really low, that Dr. Vanderveen did an excellent job at getting as much material of my thyroid out just in the surgery. She was very thorough, and got as much of the thyroid out as you possibly can,” Erik says.

Erik stayed at Rose for several days after his procedure, to ensure a smooth recovery.

“I’ll be honest, I was very surprised. Knowing the area down there, right in the middle of Denver and everything… I didn’t expect the hospital to be as nice and inviting and everything as it was. Everything was really nice,” he says.

He had a very speedy recovery considering the invasive nature of his surgery. Within a couple of weeks, Erik was back at work.

“I was actually pleasantly surprised,” he says of his rapid progress.

Most recently, Erik has had radiation treatment, which only took a weekend. He is doing blood tests, monitoring his thyroid levels, and seeing his endocrinologist on a regular basis. He is also periodically following up with Dr. Vanderveen.

“Oh, man, it feels wonderful. It feels so good,” he says, reflecting back on his journey. “I’m really glad that we took the steps we did and made the decisions we made. It’s really relieving to know where I’m at now.”

“To begin with, you really don’t know that much. There are so many unknowns and so many questions, and now, looking back on it, having the knowledge that you [have] and seeing everything that went on, it feels really good,” he says. “It feels enlightening, to be honest. You just feel like you know a lot more and [better] understand everything that went on.”

Erik’s perspective is unique. Despite the trials and tribulations he faced after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer, he remained and continues to be very optimistic. With the experience behind him, he is grateful for how smoothly things went.

Erik found comfort and reassurance in knowledge. Learning and understanding as much as he could helped ease his worries, and knowing more about his cancer gave him strength.

“The diagnosis was probably one of the hardest things,” he says. “Once I started talking to people, it actually became a little bit easier, because they explained things to me, and let me know what to expect, and were very informative.”

The Rose “Surviving Well” calendar is a 12-month calendar highlighting our cancer services, physicians and inspirational stories from our patients. Erik is our survivor for January.,, 720.560.1611

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Surviving Well: Douglas, Pancreatic Cancer

6DouglasL_021Douglas Lengyel had not been feeling well for weeks when he went to the emergency room in October 2011 with a viral infection. The doctors did a CAT scan to see if they could determine the cause of his illness, but did not find anything except a small spot on his pancreas.

“The doctor dismissed the spot, and said that it wasn’t anything that was concerning. Probably just a cyst,” Douglas said. “Afterwards, when I went to see my general physician, he did an MRI and saw that the spot had gotten bigger. He wanted to do a biopsy, but thought he would have trouble getting to it. Instead, he recommended I have it removed.”

Douglas’s internal medicine doctor referred him to a general surgeon, but Douglas decided that he wanted to work with a specialist. A friend recommended Dr. Kim Vanderveen, a surgeon at Rose Medical Center who specializes in endocrine diseases. He made an appointment and took his MRI scan for her to look at.

“She told me that it wasn’t a cyst, but was a tumor,” Douglas recalled. “She said that I needed to have surgery immediately.”

6DouglasL_009In November 2011 Douglas had surgery. The tumor turned out to be a rare and aggressive type of pancreatic cancer. In a month’s time, he had progressed from Stage 1 to Stage 2.

“I owe Dr. Vanderveen my life,” Douglas said. “I was sick, but she was the first doctor who really listened to me. Since then,  she’s been there for me every step of the way. She is so dedicated to her patients and their care. I know that I can call her at any time and she will be there.”

Since his surgery, Douglas has had regular appointments to watch his tumor markers.

Today, he likes to spend his time fly fishing, painting and working on projects–like building water features and fountains.

“I try to do things that relax me, and where I get to work with my hands,” Douglas said. “It keeps me busy and helps with my overall recovery.”

Douglas says that he wishes there was more information about the mental aspect of surviving cancer, and hopes to work as an advocate and help others who have been recently diagnosed.

“I think sometimes the mental aspect of cancer is ignored,” Douglas said. “Sometimes you’re left with a lot of guilt and a ‘why me?’ mentality. Having cancer is a life changing experience, and it’s important to address both the physical and mental elements of it.”

The Rose “Surviving Well” calendar is a 12-month calendar highlighting our cancer services, physicians and inspirational stories from our patients. Douglas is our survivor for December.


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