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Surviving With Incurable Breast Cancer

breast cancer

Dr. Amelia Zelnak

Surviving With Incurable Breast Cancer

This week I sat down with breast cancer specialist, Dr. Amelia Zelnak, of Atlanta Cancer Care.  We talked about patients dealing with incurable breast cancer or they have a malignant recurrence.  Pfizer, maker of several medications used to treat various cancers, have launched an initiative, “Breast Cancer: A Story Half Told”. 

This effort aims to expand the breast cancer conversation on multiple fronts.  As the website states, “Earlier this year, Pfizer unveiled the results of two complementary studies that uncovered gaps in the breast cancer conversation within society at large and between patients and physicians in the doctor’s office, and along with leaders in the breast cancer community issued a public call-to-action to expand the breast cancer dialogue to include metastatic disease. Breast Cancer: A Story Half Told – Supporting Workplace Conversations aims to identify gaps in the current conversation about breast cancer and the workplace, and encourage healthcare professionals and employers to join together with women with breast cancer to better address their unique workplace needs.”

We talk about this and more.  Check back soon for more info!

Loving Arms Cancer Outreach

Loving Arms Cancer Outreach

Loving Arms Cancer Outreach

Over the past year we’ve talked about cancer on several occasions.  We have hosted physician panels, sharing how to prevent cancers and how they’re diagnosed, and treatment options patients have to choose from.

We’ve also spoken with cancer survivors who have come on the share their stories about being diagnosed, and their experiences during treatment and beyond, as survivors.

This week I hosted cancer survivor, Angel DeJesus, office manager for Loving Arms Cancer Outreach.  This non-profit cancer support organization was started by two practicing oncology nurses.  They had seen how many patients deplete their financial resources paying for their cancer care.

This leaves them with with limited ability to pay for obligations of daily life such as rent/mortgage, utilities, gas to get them to treatment, and more.  They started Loving Arms Cancer Outreach to provide some measure of assistance with these needs along with support group services, education, opportunities to volunteer, and others.

Angel shared his poignant story about experiencing a cancer that ultimately cost him is right eye and how he, too, lost his home, job, and savings paying for his cancer care.  He explained how Loving Arms Cancer Outreach provided him with their support services and even were able to provide rides to his treatment when he was a patient.

The financial expense and logistics of providing rides to cancer patients was too great for the organization to continue that service.  But they continue to offer financial assistance and support group services and others.  We are hopeful listeners will help with donations, time, or share this message with folks who may be able to do so.

Special Guest

Angel DeJesus, Office Manager, Loving Arms Cancer Outreach

Loving Arms Cancer Outreach



True North Partnering

Peter North talks Mindfulness on Top Docs Radio



This week I sat down with Peter Vajda.  He’s a Certified Professional Coach and PhD in Education and Cognitive Psychology.  We talked about how we can apply the practice of meditation and mindfulness to bring about a more centered “You”, becoming better able to handle conflict and reduce one’s over-all level of anxiety.  Peter is an astute observer of the human condition and is a passionate pioneer in the field of mind-body-spirit integrative functioning and development. Dr. Vajda is dedicated to supporting individuals and groups to enhance their understanding of how to live consciously – from the inside out – which deeply supports an individual’s ability to change, grow and evolve.

Peter brings a diversified base of professional expertise – as an entrepreneur, an educator, a facilitator, and a manager. He is sensitive to the diverse perspectives,  demands and dynamics of relationships. Since 1981, he has facilitated individuals, couples, groups and organizations.

His life and the orientation he brings to coaching, consulting, facilitating and writing are deeply influenced by his understanding of, and his experience in, the psychology of personal growth and development.

For over thirty years, Peter’s has been committed to his own personal and spiritual development. His experience in working with the “whole body” is based on his studies of psychodynamics, ego development, bioenergetics as well as energy healing.

Peter earned his Ph.D. in Education and Cognitive Psychology from Fordham University. His post-graduate work is in organizational behavior at NYU’s Stern School of Business.

For six years, Dr. Vajda has written a weekly column – “Know Thyself” – for the widely-acclaimed international Management-Issues website.

His book– Becoming a Better You, Who You Are vs. Who You Think You Are – was published in October, 2013.

Special Guest:

Peter Vajda, Phd, CPC, True North Partnering  facebook_logo_small3  linkedin_small1

True North Partnering

  • PhD, Education-Cognitive Psychology, Fordham University
  • Former Director, Academic Services, Information Technology Institute, New York University
  • Previous Manager, Instructional Design Dept. , Gulliver Ritchie Associates
  • Published Author



Cancer Support Community Atlanta at Northside Cancer Institute


Cancer Support Community at Northside Cancer Institute


Cancer Support Community Atlanta


at Northside Cancer Institute  linkedin_small1  facebook_logo_small3

This week I sat down with three ladies from the Cancer Support Community at Northside Cancer Institute.  The Cancer Support Community, Atlanta, is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to providing a variety of supportive services for cancer patients and their families in a home-like environment in the heart of Atlanta. Their staff provides a wide range of support, informative education programs, a variety of gentle stress reduction and exercise classes.  The Cancer Support Community also provides access to a number of social activities that enable cancer patients, survivors, and care givers to get to know others who are in or who have experienced similar challenging circumstances.  All classes are offered free of charge and are led by seasoned professionals committed to supporting individuals and families in our community facing cancer.  Through participating in these educational, supportive, and social offerings, patients, survivors, and loved ones can reduce anxiety in their lives, gain hope and a sense of greater control in their lives, and achieve higher levels of health and fitness (physical and emotional).

My guests on the show have all experienced cancer either as a patient or as a loved one/care giver for a person dealing with cancer.  As you listen to their stories it is quickly apparent that when you engage in the services offered by the Cancer Support Community at Northside Cancer Institute you will be cared for by people who truly understand and can relate to your situation.  Many of the folks you’ll meet when you go to the Cancer Support Community are long-time survivors who have been utilizing their services for a number of years—and they plan to continue.  Check out today’s show and you’ll understand why!

Special Guests:

Rachel Newby, LMSW

Rachel is an Atlanta native who attended Oglethorpe University, where she received a BA in psychology.  She continued her education at UGA where she received her Masters Degree in Social Work. Rachel currently lives in the city of Decatur, is married, has 2 kids and way too many pets!  As for her connection to cancer, Rachel’s mother was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in 1998, her freshman year of college. Unfortunately, at the time, supportive services for cancer patients were limited and she was extremely isolated. She died during Rachel’s senior year of college. She has been with the Cancer Support Community since 2005, making this her 9th year with the organization. Rachel’s day to day goal is to make sure that people that come to CSC Atlanta feel supported by the staff and one another.

Bonnie Bennett

Volunteer coordinator, CSC-Atlanta, 12-year breast cancer survivor and client of CSC-Atlanta

Bonnie is from Winston-Salem, NC and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1966 with a BA in Elementary Education. After teaching in NC, she moved to Atlanta in 1969 and went to work for what was then the Trust Company of Georgia, now SunTrust. In 1973, Bonnie married an Atlanta native and started a family. Twelve years ago at age 58, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Due to a strong family history of the disease, she elected to have a bi-lateral mastectomy with no reconstruction. Two years after this experience, she was introduced to the Cancer Support Community. She found she was having difficulty in returning to life as she had known it before the experience. At CSC, Bonnie found the support she was looking for. The positive and welcoming environment, along with the many activities and events offering further support, helped her move forward. Since that time, Bonnie has continued to participate as an active member in addition to serving as the volunteer coordinator. She coordinates a wonderful group of volunteers who staff the front desk during the week. They are there to greet CSC members, as well as to assist the staff. Bonnie also conducts the Monday morning orientation meeting, which introduces new members to the facility.  Cancer Support Community Atlanta has an annual fundraiser in April, the Chastain Chase 5K, which is staffed by CSC volunteers. Bonnie is a wife, mother and grandmother who is grateful for and passionate about the Cancer Support Community!

Donna Meyer, BSN, MS

Donna Meyer is the Survivorship Coordinator at the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute. In her role she works with patients and caregivers from the time of their diagnosis throughout the balance of their lives—that’s the definition of a “Survivor”! Her focus and passion is on improving the quality of life for families impacted by cancer through treatment summaries, survivorship care plans, supportive care, education and special events.

Donna is a RN with many years of experience in a wide variety of care settings. In addition she has a Master’s Degree in Counseling. She is a cancer survivor herself so she has personal experience with many of the same concerns that patients and families are experiencing. Donna has been active in the community working in schools, churches and community organizations and promotes health and wellness as part of cancer prevention and healthy living after a diagnosis

She is a liaison with the Cancer Support Community and works with them to support their programing and advocate for needs of patients and families within the Northside care system.




Talking Skin Cancer

Northside Cancer Institute


Skin Cancer

According to, more than 2 million persons per year are diagnosed with skin cancer.  There are more cases than breast, lung, prostate, and colon cancers combined.  Left undiscovered or untreated for too long, these cancers can spread to other parts of the body, leading to serious illness and death.  1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.  It’s a problem we can reduce in frequency with which it occurs.  When skin cancer does occur it is ideally treated by a team of physicians from a variety of specialties to most effectively eliminate the cancer and reduce the risk for it returning.  On this week’s show I sat down with 5 of Atlanta’s top physicians who make up the multi-specialty team who treat skin cancer at the Northside Cancer Institute.  We discussed expert-recommended ways to limit the likelihood of developing skin cancer as well as how to get thoroughly checked for the presence of worrisome lesions that could potentially be or that could become cancers.  In this way, patients who do develop cancerous skin lesions can catch them at an early stage, making it possible to successfully eliminate the cancer with less aggressive treatments.  In addition to a dermatologist who frequently works with skin cancer patients we had a chance to learn what the treatment options are for the various stages of skin cancer.  And we discussed what a patient can expect as they progress through the course of care from a surgical oncologist, medical oncologist, reconstructive plastic surgeon, and radiation oncologist.

Northside Cancer Institute

Special Guests :

Dr. Alexander Gross, MD of Georgia Dermatology Center  google-plus-logo-red-265px  twitter_logo_small  youtube logo  facebook_logo_small3 

Georgia Dermatology Center

  • Doctorate of Medicine, University of South Florida College of Medicine
  • Residency, Dermatology, Vanderbilt University
  • Fellow, American Academy of Dermatology, American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery and American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery

Dr. Jenny Chang, MD of Artisan Plastic Surgery  facebook_logo_small3  linkedin_small1

Jenny Chang

  • MD, Universidad de Buenos Aires with Honors
  • w Residency, General Surgery, Providence Hospital and Medical Center
  • w Faculty, Department of Surgery, Providence Hospital and Medical Center
  • w Fellowship, Plastic Surgery, Detroit Medical Center/Wayne State University
  • w Board Certified, Plastic Surgery and General Surgery

Dr. Sahar Rosenbaum, MD of Northside Hospital Radiation Oncology Care  

Northside Radiation Oncology Care

  • Doctorate of Medicine, Medical College of Pennsylvania
  • Residency, Radiation Oncology, Cooper Hospital/UMC
  • Board Certified, Radiation Oncology
  • Also holds degrees in Speech Pathology/Audiology and Masters in Psychology

Dr. Scott Davidson, MD of Melanoma Specialists of Georgia    

Melanoma & Sarcoma Specialists of Georgia

  • Doctorate of Medicine, University of Florida School of Medicine
  • Residency, General Surgery Orlando Regional Medical Center
  • Residency, Surgical Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • Board Certified, American Board of Surgery
  • Fellowship, Surgical Oncology, MD Anderson Medical Center

Aaron Alizadeh, MD of Georgia Cancer Specialists    Pinterest-logo  instagram-logo-transparent-png-i11 (16x16)  youtube logo  facebook_logo_small3

Georgia Cancer Specialists

  • Doctorate of Medicine, Wayne State University
  • Residency, Oncology, Emory University
  • Fellowship, Hematology/Oncology, Emory University
  • Board Certified, Medical Oncology/Hematology, and Internal Medicine

Important Cancer Resources for Georgians

GeorgiaCORE and TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehabilitation


Cancer Resources for Georgians

Special Guests: Alice Kerber, Angie Patterson, and Erin Long

This week we’ll hear about important cancer resources available to patients in Georgia from Alice Kerber and Angie Patterson of GeorgiaCORE. The organization is a public private partnership dedicated to facilitating cancer prevention, care, research, and education.  They are focused on helping patients get better access to available cancer resources from early diagnosis to best treatments available, and support once they are survivors.  Through initiatives such as, Georgia Breast Cancer Genomic Consortium, and the Cancer Patient Navigator program, GeorgiaCORE facilitates greater community awareness and helps improve cancer outcomes for Georgians.  TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehabilitation provides a range of specialized rehabilitation services tailored specifically for the breast cancer survivor.  As a charitable organization they are able to provide care to under- or uninsured patients who require care as well.  Director of Development, Erin Walker Long discusses the therapies they provide along with some of their upcoming fund-raising initiatives.

Alice Kerber, MN, APRN, ACNS-BC, AOCN, APNG, GeorgiaCORE   facebook_logo_small3  twitter_logo_small  linkedin_small1  youtube logo

  • Oncology Nurse Specialist working to improve quality of cancer care in Georgia
  • 34 years of oncology experience, both inpatient & outpatient
  • Heavily involved in a CDC program, “Georgia Breast Cancer Genomic Consortium”
  • 2011 Recipient, Oncology Nurse of the Year by Georgia March of Dimes

Angie Patterson, Vice President of Research & Education, GeorgiaCORE

  • Co-founder, Cancer Patient Navigators of Georgia
  • Focused heavily on improving cancer care through implementation of patient navigation and survivorship programs
  • Breast Cancer Survivor
  • Volunteer with Northside Hospital’s Network of Hope

Erin Long, Development Director for TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehabilitation  facebook_logo_small3  twitter_logo_small  feed logo

  • 15 years of fundraising experience in healthcare and education
  • Enjoy tennis, exercise and reading
  • Mother of two children under 4

Cancer Survivors Discuss Late Effects of Radiation


cancer survivors and late effects of radiation


Cancer Survivors

This week I am joined by two cancer survivors who successfully beat their cancers but ended up as part of the group of patients who have problems where they received radiation therapy, called “late effects of radiation”. For most patients who experience these issues the symptoms they experience get better with a few weeks of time and conservative measures. But for some, they persist and can have significant impact on quality of life.  The symptoms these patients experience depend upon where the radiation was administered on to the body.  They can include non-healing wounds on the gums, sometimes exposing the jaw bone (mandible), necrosis (cell death) of the jaw bone, breast pain, chronic diarrhea, bleeding with urination or bowel movements, bladder pain, painful bowel movements, and sensations of urinary and/or bowel frequency and urgency.  Hear how they were able to successfully treat their late effects of radiation with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

cancer survivors and late effects of radiation

Dick Cailouet and Dan Dodson, cancer survivors who are among the group who experienced late effects of radiation.

Special Guests

Dick Caillouet   facebook_logo_small3 twitter_logo_small Pinterest-logo google-plus-logo-red-265px

Dan Dodson  

  • 3 year survivor of tonsilar cancer  twitter_logo_small linkedin_small1 facebook_logo_small3 google-plus-logo-red-265px
  • CEO, Co-founder, Mastermind Marketing
  • Previously, CPA, HLB Gross Collins, PC
  • Expert in Involvement Marketing, having been published in numerous publications and speaking at trade shows on the subject.

Dr. Roberts-Lopez and Dr. Carroll Talk Women’s Health at WellStar

gynecologic oncology and urogynecology

Dr. Roberts-Lopez and Dr. Carroll of WellStar Medical Group talk women’s health issues

<Women’s Health

Dr. LaSonya Roberts-Lopez and Dr. Amy Carroll are physicians with WellStar Medical Group.  Dr. Roberts-Lopez is an OB-GYN who specialized in urology.  She is able to help women dealing with a variety of issues from interstitial cystitis, uterine or bladder prolapse, urinary (and even fecal) incontinence, and more.  Dr. Carroll is an OB-GYN who subspecialized in the treatment of gynecologic cancers including ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, vulvar cancer, cervical cancer, and more.  Their training in gynecology, coupled with being women themselves, gives them an advantage when caring for women facing these quality-of-life-altering issues.  On this week’s show they discussed a variety of problems they are able to help women with, screening options available for early detection, and measures women can take to prevent occurrence for a number of issues.

Special Guests:

Dr. LaSonya Roberts-Lopez, MD of WellStar Medical Group  twitter_logo_small facebook_logo_small3

  •  Doctorate of Medicine Emory University School of Medicine
  • Residency, OB-GYN, State University of New York
  • Fellowship, Advanced pelvic surgery/urogynecology, Northside Hospital, Southeastern Gynecologic Oncology Group

Board certified fellow in obstetrics & gynecology and female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, Dr. Roberts-Lopez is a Diplomat of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is also a member of American Urogynecology Society, American Medical Association and International Urogynecology Society. She is in practice with WellStar Urogynecology.

Dr. Amy Carroll, MD of WellStar Medical Group  twitter_logo_small facebook_logo_small3

  •  Doctorate of Medicine, Emory School of Medicine
  • Residency, University of Texas at Galveston
  • Fellowship, Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Dr. Carroll is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research, Society of Gynecologic Oncology, American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Dr. Carroll is in practice with WellStar Gynecologic Oncology.

Rehabilitation After Breast Reconstruction Surgery and Radiation Therapy


Top Docs Radio features healthcare providers and professionals sharing their expertise to “Get the Word Out” about a variety of health problems, treatments and community concerns to elevate our community’s well-being.


Rehabilitation After Breast Reconstruction Surgery and Radiation Therapy

This week, we’re going to talk more about the experience of chemotherapy, memory issues that can arise during treatment – sometimes referred to as “chemo brain”, and learn all about Turning Point in Sandy Springs, a rehabilitation facility that focuses on the needs of patients who have had previous radiation therapy.

The host of Top Docs Radio is Charles “CW” Hall with Hyperbaric Physicians of Georgia.


Cookie Aftergut

  • 12 year Stage II breast cancer survivor, treated with chemotherapy and radiation
  • Founder of ChemoChic and ChemoFlage
  • Recipient of “Yoplait Champion” award and recognized by the Susan G. Komen Foundation and SELF Magazine for her community work

Karen Burpo

  • Community Outreach Coordinator for Turning Point Breast Cancer Rehabilitation (and former patient)
  • Surviving cancer
  • Master Gardener
  • Supportive counselor and companion to friends going through diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer
  • Active in church and neighborhood activities
Cookie Aftergut, Charles "CW" Hall, Karen Burpo

Cookie Aftergut, Charles “CW” Hall, Karen Burpo