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Women’s Voices

Breast cancer survivor: You don’t have to go through this alone

VanessaWomen'sCampaign1Vanessa Buck was at a WalMart last October, standing near the shoe section, when she received the call from her primary care doctor that her breast biopsy had come back positive for cancer. Minutes later, she was in her car, overwhelmed and having a good cry as questions raced through her mind. What does this mean? How far advanced is it? How will it impact my family? How will I get through it?

Turns out, she was far stronger than she thought she might be – in part because she was firmly held by the faith in God and the love and compassion of others.

The 47-year-old substitute teacher and church fellowship director drew support from family, friends, church, school, and health care providers. Strength came through gestures big and small.

The staff at the TMC for Women Breast Center, for example, took turns holding her hand during the biopsy. Her primary care visit typically includes a hug.

After her double mastectomy, her family had meals for three weeks straight from community members dropping off dinner.

From loved ones, she also received mugs with positive mottos, a rose plant that is still making a go of it in the front yard, and a necklace she wore to every chemotherapy session because it features a photo and birthstones of her three children, ages 11 through 16.

“I think it changed a little of my focus. Relationships have always been a priority for me, but this experience just really helped me hone in on what’s important in life,” said the Tucson native, who makes her home in Corona de Tucson.

What’s important is not that her hair grew back after chemo the same slate color and same curly texture, instead of the red and straight hair she jokes she was kinda crossing her fingers for.

It’s that when her extended family sits down at gatherings, there is a new gentleness with one another instead of a focus on political differences. It’s that when she gets together with a support group of women who have been through cancer, they can joke that reconstruction means they can finally have “the girls” they always wanted.

PhotoContestBFFIt’s that others have helped her navigate the unfamiliar world she was entering, whether it was questions about wigs or bras or makeup classes to learn how to draw eyebrows on. “You don’t have to go through this alone. There are people out there who are going to love you and help you through this. You just have to look.”

Some of that strength also originates from within.

Vanessa Buck A Breast Cancer Survivor: You don't have to do this alone“You have to be real about these things and take life for what it is, but at the same time, I have to be happy in the moment,” she said. “Joy is a choice. Happiness is a choice. I can’t live on what-if’s. And really – worrying isn’t going to add any more time to my life.”

Karen Narum, the women’s health care nurse practitioner at the TMC for Women Breast Screening Clinic, said the willingness of survivors to serve as resources for others is a huge blessing to the community. “I can tell women they’ll be fine and that they’ll get through something, but seeing someone else who has had that diagnosis, stand up and say, ‘Look at me. I’m OK,’ that’s just so much more powerful.”

Buck said she hopes to return the favor, planning to volunteer to provide support to cancer patients. “I just feel strongly that I’ve got to pass this on, and I’m excited to see what happens next,” she said.

“As long as I have life, I have purpose.”

Make HerStory donation buttonMaking HerStory – Whether a woman is having her first child or a life-saving surgery, she deserves a welcoming and safe environment with state-of-the-art services and a caring touch. Making HerStory is the campaign for the new Joel M. Childers MD Women’s Center to make this environment a reality at TMC for Women and in our community.
TMC is committed to providing a lifetime of care For Women, About Women. Join us in Making HerStory 

Second chance helps retiree stay healthy

VernettaHerStoryVernetta Jarvis lives a charmed life, disguised in a series of health irritations that evolved over the past year, right after retiring from a CPA firm.

First she pinched a nerve in her arm playing with her dog. After eight weeks of physical therapy, she was good as new.

Then came a stomach infection. Antibiotics patched her right up after three weeks.

And then she received a call about her routine mammogram. The surgeon saw a good deal of calcification in the breast tissue that looked suspicious. “I have had call backs before, so I was absolutely confident that everything would be fine.” And in fact, the biopsy did come back fine.

Even so, the surgeon recommended removing the tissue, given that the cells could turn into cancer. Vernetta agreed, figuring it was best to take the prudent course and not have to worry about it.

In the process of surgery, however, it turns out she had cancer in the outer margins that wasn’t captured in the biopsy.

“It was such a shock,” recalled Vernetta, 66. “It took a day or so for it to sink in: You’ve got cancer and you have to do something about this.”

A year before, Vernetta’s mother had a similar experience, finding cancer on the outer margins on her biopsy, and she opted to have the double mastectomy. But Vernetta chose instead, with consultation from her doctors, to do a lumpectomy and radiation.

“The big C word carries a lot of fear with it, but I’ve adopted a saying from an old friend: ‘I don’t care what I get, as long as it can be fixed.’”

Since it was so early and wasn’t in the lymph nodes, no chemotherapy was required. And her family was very supportive and calm, acknowledging she had a plan to address it.

The surgery was done at TMC, in the new surgical suites. That experience, along with her experience in the TMC for Women Breast Screening Clinic, was positive, she said. “Everyone was very nice, very accommodating. They just seemed to care about you.”

Although there was some fatigue associated with radiation, she’s rebuilding and getting ready to resume tending to her backyard rose bushes, as well as doing the sewing and needlework she enjoys.

Vernetta said she hopes women take advantage of preventive measures like mammograms. “It’s such a simple thing to do and you have such better chances of catching it early when it’s treatable, and when doctors can say, ‘It’s easy. We can do this together.’”

Making HerStory – Whether a woman is having her first child or a life-saving surgery, she deserves a welcoming and safe environment with state-of-the-art services and a caring touch. Making HerStory is the campaign for the new Joel M. Childers, M.D., Women’s Center to make this environment a reality at TMC for Women and in our community. 

TMC is Make HerStory donation buttoncommitted to providing a lifetime of care For Women, About Women. Join us in Making HerStory

 

Paralympian Lisa Czechowski on Facing the Challenge of Preeclampsia

paralympian Lisa Czechowski, TMC for WomenAs a Paralympian in the sport of goalball, Lisa Czechowski is used to conquering challenges.

Although she is legally blind, that doesn’t stop her from throwing her body down on a hard court floor to block a ball, lobbed at a speed of up to 30 miles an hour and outfitted with bells, before the other team can make a goal.

She’s so good at the sport, she was part of the Paralympic team that won the gold in 2008. And she’s a silver medal winner in discus, which helps explains her strength and speed in throwing the goalball. Her husband, Jake, is no stranger to pressure himself, as the national team’s assistant coach.

But the challenge of an early delivery of their first baby was one that they had never encountered before.

One June 30, 2014, the athlete had anticipated having a routine day of running errands, including picking up a comfy rocking chair as a finishing touch for the nursery. Instead, when she and her husband went for their 36-week prenatal checkup, they found her blood pressure inordinately high. Lisa had preeclampsia. The only cure for preeclampsia is delivery of the baby and left untreated it can have serious, even fatal consequences for mother and child.

The couple rushed to the hospital without even having the exam. For her safety, Baby Jay would be induced that day.

By nature, the 35-year-old Lisa is a planner – and this was not part of the plan. Thoughts raced through her head: What would an early delivery mean for the baby? How was labor going to go? Who would take care of the dogs at home while she and her husband, Jake, were at the hospital?

TMC for Women, lisa Czechowski, goalball, paralympian“As first-time parents, we had a lot of questions,” Lisa recounted, especially since the baby wanted to take his time and seemed to have no interest in meeting the world just yet. “What really helped is that everyone we dealt with, from the nurses to the lactation consultants, were supportive and knowledgeable.”

The care staff also worked hard to accommodate her visual needs. They walked Lisa through the procedures as they were happening so she wasn’t surprised if they touched her, for example. And since Lisa is very sensitive to light, the nursing staff taped down the light switch so no one could come in the room and accidentally flip it on. “Those little things were really so important to help me during a time of such uncertainty.”

What else helped? The USA Women’s National Team was in Finland playing at the World Championships. Jake laughs at recalling his wife demanding, “Check the score!” between contractions.

Jay came at 5 pounds 10 ounces and is doing great. He’s a calm, mellow baby who will get lots of love from Jake’s nearby brother, with Lisa starting her new season and the couple anticipating traveling again for tournaments.

Lisa has advice for other first-time parents. “Be patient. Ask for help. You have tremendous resources here at the hospital, so don’t be afraid to tap into their guidance and knowledge. And finally, love your gift!”

Making HerStory – Whether a woman is having her first child or a life-saving surgery, she deserves a welcoming and safe environment with state-of-the-art services and a caring touch. Making HerStory is the campaign for the new Joel M. Childers, M.D., Women’s Center to make this environment a reality at TMC for Women and in our community. 

TMC is Make HerStory donation buttoncommitted to providing a lifetime of care For Women, About Women. Join us in Making HerStory

Preventive Screening Helps Local Woman with Cancer Prevention

monica stopping breast cancer in it's tracksIn the 30 years that Monica Kealey has been a cosmetologist, she has supported a number of clients through bouts with cancer, whether lending a sympathetic ear or shaving their hair to give them more control over the hair loss that may accompany chemotherapy treatment.

She knows cancer can be a formidable opponent, so she’s been faithful to her No. 1 strategy to be her own best health care advocate: Routine screenings.

“Early detection is so important,” said the 53-year-old West Side resident, who has been going to the TMC for Women Breast Screening Center for annual mammograms for the past six years. “Like any other kind of health issue, your best chance of treatment is when you find something early.”

Monica, who is self-employed, found the clinic six years ago at a time she couldn’t afford to purchase insurance, but made too much to qualify for financial assistance programs. The TMC Breast Health and Education Program provides free screenings – 316 in 2013 – for uninsured women by using grant funding from the TMC Foundation and other community partners.

Even though Monica has since become insured, she stayed on at the clinic and received a call back from her April 2014 mammogram, asking for additional imaging after staff noticed a change from previous screenings. After more imaging, the doctor suggested a biopsy to rule out or confirm early signs of cancer.

The biopsy was painless and quick, with staff bringing her a warm blanket and keeping her adult daughter, waiting in the lobby, apprised of how the procedure was going. “It’s such a great team in there,” Kealey said. “I just felt very cared for – you don’t feel like you’re part of a cattle call. It’s very welcoming, but it’s also very efficient at the same time. You’re in, you’re out.”

Karen Narum, the women’s health care nurse practitioner who serves as a navigator at the Clinic, said she and her staff follow a simple rule: “We know the patients and their families are scared and anxious, so we treat them the way we would want to be treated.”

PhotoContestBFF

The staff called to check in on how she was holding up while waiting for an answer back on the biopsy, but Monica is a positive woman. “I know some people freak out when they hear the word ‘cancer,’ but I stayed positive and prepared myself that if I did have it, it would be something I’d have to deal with. But I think it’s really important to stay positive from the beginning and then, when you have the actual results, you move forward with a plan.”

Monica had a complex sclerosing lesion known as a radial scar. She was advised that it should be removed to prevent a possible malignancy from forming over time. Kealey did her research, wrote down a number of questions for the doctor, and was comfortable with the answers back. The surgery was over in 25 minutes and Kealey credits the surgeon, Dr. Kelly Favre, with such fine incisions that her healing was rapid. She missed just two days of work.

“I’m so thankful for the awesome team at the TMC Breast Center. They are a hidden treasure in Tucson,” Monica said, adding she shares the need for early detection when she can. “I have people in my chair tell me they’re in their 60s and they’ve never had a mammogram!” she said, noting their biggest concern is they think it will be painful. “Everybody is different, and sure, it might be a little tender, but the way I look at it, it’s over in just a few minutes and it could save your life.”

Although Monica now shares her experience, she kept it to herself initially. “I didn’t tell very many people about what I was going through because I didn’t want to hear horror stories about what happened to others. I knew I was going to have my own story – and I feel very fortunate.”

Make HerStory donation buttonMaking HerStory – Whether a woman is having her first child or a life-saving surgery, she deserves a welcoming and safe environment with state-of-the-art services and a caring touch. Making HerStory is the campaign for the new Joel M. Childers, M.D., Women’s Center to make this environment a reality at TMC for Women and in our community. 

TMC is committed to providing a lifetime of care For Women, About Women. Join us in Making HerStory

Live Well – Let us help you keep your New Year’s Resolutions

Live Well Comm Logo OrgBluDid you make a resolution to get healthy this year? To lose weight? Hike that mountain? Go for a plant-based diet? Or lower your cholesterol? If you’re anything like most people your resolution to stick to those goals may be waning a little or even vanished completely. Sounds like it’s time for a little inspiration.

We met Mary just seven months ago, when she shared her story so far participating in the TMC Live Well Tucson community wellness programs. After ten years of looking after her ailing mom, Mary Kmak’s own health had slid. Pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, spinal issues, and significant weight gain as a result of extended steroid treatments, Mary, a devout catholic, was unable even to help at mass anymore.

January, 2014 Mary signed up for the TMC Community wellness program and had remarkable success. Check out her story and her tips for success here.

We just got an update from Mary, timely because it’s just a few weeks until the start of the next Live Well series. Just in time for you to be inspired and join the Live Well program. Take Mary’s lead, make a promise to yourself for a healthier you and realize your dream.

MarysPromiseHappy Healthy New Year!
I hope you’re staying healthy and 2015 will be a great one for you, yours & me. I not only maintained my 62 pound loss, but also lost an additional three pounds this month!

I’ve lost 65 pounds from one year ago all a result of the fabulous learning from the TMC community wellness programs! I’m looking forward to the New Year & more weight off  and I’m ready to go full force with the only way I was taught, the HEALTHY WAY!

Other than some aches & pains from the weather I feel great. I did fit into those jeans my beloved Mom bought me years ago when at that time those jeans wouldn’t even go above my hips! I am getting closer to my promise and feel sure NEXT year at this time I will fulfill it! Each morning I wake up and know my Mom is smiling when she sees my results and continuous motivation to get to my goal! Thank you Mary & Laurie for your help. You two are the best nutritionists in the world!

Mary

Join Live Well Tucson at TMC and learn how to make lifelong changes that will improve your health and your life, just like Mary has done.

Our program combines 10 weekly informational sessions with optional weekly physical activities. Our team of professionals will help you develop strategies for living a healthful life, and setting realistic and sustainable goals. This program will allow you to connect with others in your community who, like yourself, want to be healthy and “live well.” Email us at wellness@tmcaz.com for more information and to sign up.

“Miracle baby” comes after 66 days of bed rest

Hospital Bedrest, Making HerstoryWhen Jennifer Hayes’ water broke at 22 weeks, she knew it could prompt premature labor and jeopardize her baby.

Doctors from Obstetrix Medical Group, who specialize in high-risk pregnancies and are affiliated with Tucson Medical Center, steadied her for the reality that labor could be imminent – and even if her baby pulled through, she could have severe complications. The news was devastating.

JenniferMakingHerStoryWhen the 37-year-old was placed on strict bed rest at TMC for Women on June 2, 2013, she prayed she could stave off labor for at least a few days to bide more time. She never could have predicted Tatiana would come into the world a remarkable 66 days later.

It wasn’t easy. Aside from the constant rounds of blood tests and pelvic exams and monitors, she was on antibiotics to prevent infection, steroids to help her baby’s lungs mature and hormone shots. With five children at home, ranging from 4 years of age to 16, Jennifer’s family stepped in to help care for them in her absence.

JenniferH2a“It was hard because I wasn’t with my family, and even though I wasn’t sick and I felt perfectly fine, I couldn’t get up and walk around,” Jennifer recalled. “I was used to exercising and chasing the kids around, and now I had to lie down all the time and I had to be wheeled everywhere. I felt totally incapable of everything and that’s a bad feeling when you’re used to doing so much.”

She was also extremely worried: She had lost a baby girl to a premature delivery before she got pregnant with Tatiana.

The staff did everything they could to make it easier.

They brought a small refrigerator into her room, so she could have cheese or fulfill her craving for Jell-o. They brought her an ipad so she could stay better connected. They would bring her treats, and knew her likes so well that they would order her meals for her if she was out for testing. They gave her tips on their favorite anesthesiologists or who did the best IV administration – and they helped the self-described hypochondriac stay grounded by assuring her that no, it wasn’t likely she had dengue fever.

Jennifer4HerStoryShe watched movies, read books, and chatted with the staff to while away the time. And because her window faced out into the parking lot, she was always the first to know which doctors were on shift. The doctors and nurses even threw her a baby shower.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people all the way around,” she said, adding she has remained Facebook friends with many, and continues socializing with others. “If you had doctors who didn’t care and ho-hum nurses, it could have been a very long 66 days, but the support I got from everybody just made it that much easier for me.”

When Tatiana came on September 6, she was four pounds, three ounces and breathing on her own.

A happy baby, Tatiana is now in the 96th percentile for height and the 59th percentile for her weight. “I had gone through a loss already, so I am just so grateful to have every day that I have with her, and I really just appreciate every single stage she’s going through,” Jennifer said.

“There are all kinds of statistics about how badly things can go but there really is hope. She’s so healthy, I couldn’t be happier. It’s the perfect outcome.”

JenniferH3HerStory

 

Make HerStory donation buttonMaking HerStory – Whether a woman is having her first child or a life-saving surgery, she deserves a welcoming and safe environment with state-of-the-art services and a caring touch. Making HerStory is the campaign for the new Joel M. Childers, M.D., Women’s Center to make this environment a reality at TMC for Women and in our community. 

TMC is committed to providing a lifetime of care For Women, About Women. Join us in Making HerStory

Breast cancer survivor: You don’t have to go through this alone

VanessaWomen'sCampaign1Vanessa Buck was at a WalMart last October, standing near the shoe section, when she received the call from her primary care doctor that her breast biopsy had come back positive for cancer. Minutes later, she was in her car, overwhelmed and having a good cry as questions raced through her mind. What does this mean? How far advanced is it? How will it impact my family? How will I get through it?

Turns out, she was far stronger than she thought she might be – in part because she was firmly held by the faith in God and the love and compassion of others.

The 47-year-old substitute teacher and church fellowship director drew support from family, friends, church, school, and health care providers. Strength came through gestures big and small.

The staff at the TMC for Women Breast Screening Center, for example, took turns holding her hand during the biopsy. Her primary care visit typically includes a hug.

After her double mastectomy, her family had meals for three weeks straight from community members dropping off dinner.

From loved ones, she also received mugs with positive mottos, a rose plant that is still making a go of it in the front yard, and a necklace she wore to every chemotherapy session because it features a photo and birthstones of her three children, ages 11 through 16.

“I think it changed a little of my focus. Relationships have always been a priority for me, but this experience just really helped me hone in on what’s important in life,” said the Tucson native, who makes her home in Corona de Tucson.

What’s important is not that her hair grew back after chemo the same slate color and same curly texture, instead of the red and straight hair she jokes she was kinda crossing her fingers for.

It’s that when her extended family sits down at gatherings, there is a new gentleness with one another instead of a focus on political differences. It’s that when she gets together with a support group of women who have been through cancer, they can joke that reconstruction means they can finally have “the girls” they always wanted.

It’s that others have helped her navigate the unfamiliar world she was entering, whether it was questions about wigs or bras or makeup classes to learn how to draw eyebrows on. “You don’t have to go through this alone. There are people out there who are going to love you and help you through this. You just have to look.”

Some of that strength also originates from within.

Vanessa Buck A Breast Cancer Survivor: You don't have to do this alone“You have to be real about these things and take life for what it is, but at the same time, I have to be happy in the moment,” she said. “Joy is a choice. Happiness is a choice. I can’t live on what-if’s. And really – worrying isn’t going to add any more time to my life.”

Karen Narum, the women’s health care nurse practitioner at the TMC for Women Breast Screening Clinic, said the willingness of survivors to serve as resources for others is a huge blessing to the community. “I can tell women they’ll be fine and that they’ll get through something, but seeing someone else who has had that diagnosis, stand up and say, ‘Look at me. I’m OK,’ that’s just so much more powerful.”

Buck said she hopes to return the favor, planning to volunteer to provide support to cancer patients. “I just feel strongly that I’ve got to pass this on, and I’m excited to see what happens next,” she said.

“As long as I have life, I have purpose.”

Make HerStory donation buttonMaking HerStory – Whether a woman is having her first child or a life-saving surgery, she deserves a welcoming and safe environment with state-of-the-art services and a caring touch. Making HerStory is the campaign for the new Joel M. Childers MD Women’s Center to make this environment a reality at TMC for Women and in our community.
TMC is committed to providing a lifetime of care For Women, About Women. Join us in Making HerStory 

Breast cancer survivor: Care at TMC made a difference

breast cancer survivor shares her storyCyndi Dwyer is a practical woman. When she undertakes home improvement projects, she’s not afraid to hang dry wall and rewire the electricity and – in the case of her ongoing kitchen renovation – do dishes in the bathtub if need be.

So when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2013, she cried once, when she told her husband, and that was the end of that. “I had cancer. It just needed to be taken care of. I didn’t see it as any different than when I had a torn rotator cuff. I just needed to get it fixed and move on with my life,” said Cyndi, 60, who administers the special education program at her high school.

It helped that she has been a devotee of annual mammograms and her previous one had been clean. And because the cancer was found in its early stages, she did not have to have radiation or chemotherapy and was able to start her reconstruction in the same surgery as her bilateral mastectomy.

Dwyer said the care at TMC helped her get through a trying time. Her family appreciated the ability to track her as she moved from pre-op, to surgery, to recovery, without having to wonder where she as in the process. She appreciated her surgeons, as well as the attentive, friendly staff, including the nurses who answered her call button promptly. She loved the fact that TMC features all private rooms. “There are some things your doctor will talk to you about that are personal. A curtain really doesn’t do the job.”

There was plenty of space for her family to visit, and the rooms themselves were relaxing and comfortable, she said. “I felt really well taken care of and I also felt kind of at home,” Dwyer said. “I wasn’t just another patient. They really acted like they cared.”

“No one wants a diagnosis of cancer, but at least the whole experience was positive. It was as good as it could get if you have to have cancer.”

Back at work and back at the gym, she’s hoping her kitchen is back soon, so she’ll be back to whipping up some of the creamy desserts she’s famous for.

But she’s also finding far more patience and is letting more things go that might have irritated or worried her previously. “Life’s too short. When you find out you have cancer, it is a clear reminder of that. Fortunately, my reminder was relatively easy to come through, but it is still a reminder that anything can happen at any minute, so you have to be grateful for what you have.”


Make HerStory donation buttonMaking HerStory – Whether a woman is having her first child or a life-saving surgery, she deserves a welcoming and safe environment with state-of-the-art services and a caring touch. Making HerStory is the campaign for the new Joel M. Childers, M.D., Women’s Center to make this environment a reality at TMC for Women and in our community. 

TMC is committed to providing a lifetime of care For Women, About Women. Join us in Making HerStory 

 

“Public banking is about giving and living in hope.” Why an expectant mom is especially thrilled about TMC’s new cord blood donation program

Hope & Life - Public Cord Blood Banking

Public Cord Blood Banking – Bringing hope & life

Long before she got pregnant, expectant mom Jennifer Widdows firmly believed in donating any biological products that she could. Blood, platelets – you name it. “The folks at the blood and platelet donation centers get very excited when I come in. I’m what they consider an ‘ideal donor’ since I have a high platelet count, relatively lower iron levels, and I haven’t been exposed to a virus that most of the population gets during childhood,” she said. “Some of my platelets go directly to sick infants and leukemia patients. It’s an enormous gift I can give, and it only takes two hours of my day.”
So when she discovered the Be The Match registry was looking for bone marrow donors, naturally, she was intrigued. When she got pregnant with her first child and started expanding her research on how she could continue to give back, she remembered that one way a person could contribute to the Be The Match registry is by donating her newborn’s umbilical cord blood. “By the time I started looking into this option, I had already missed the window of opportunity. I was too far along in my pregnancy to do what was required to donate,” she explained.

So, she chalked it up as a lesson learned.

Widdows and her husband considered privately banking their baby’s cord blood, but they decided against it since their family didn’t have any risk factors that cord blood may help. “I’ve also learned that oftentimes, people find better matches with people who are outside of their immediate family, depending on the disease. We decided that for our next child, publically donating their cord blood would be the best thing to do,” she said. “Private banking is more about the fear of what could happen versus public banking which is about giving and living in hope.”

Now almost 2, Ivan is preparing to become a big brother. Widdows is 36 weeks pregnant, and waiting until delivery to discover if she’ll have another boy in her house or welcome a little girl. Determined not to make the same mistake she did with her first child, her research about how to publically donate started early in her pregnancy. “I filled out a form on a website and met the criteria. They contacted a public cord blood bank in North Carolina, and the bank contacted me,” she explained.

And then, she got a lengthy to-do list.

So did her physician, Dr. John Graziano with Crossroads OB/GYN.

Jennifer Widdows with Dr. John Graziano

Jennifer Widdows with Dr. John Graziano

Widdows showed up at her next appointment with a big stack of paperwork for him to fill out in order for her to donate. Oh – and by the way, he also had to complete online training. A tall task for any busy physician.

The bank had warned her – oftentimes, this was the toughest part of the whole process.

And – after she gets all that done, Dr. Graziano has to actually deliver her. If it’s another doctor who hasn’t completed the necessary training, Widdows won’t be able to donate.

Then, with paperwork in hand, Widdows received some welcome news that – in mere seconds – made her life easier. “He told me that TMC was preparing to launch a public donation program. I couldn’t believe it! All of these things that I was going to have to do. All of these things that my husband and my doula were going to have to do – suddenly, we didn’t have to do all that anymore. Donating this baby’s cord blood was going to be so easy,” said Widdows.

“I had done the paperwork and the training for other patients before, so I was happy to do it for Jennifer, but TMC’s program was about to start,” said Dr. Graziano. “Most expectant moms don’t even think about cord blood until they’re in labor. When we tell them that they now have the option to publically donate it, probably 80 percent are happy to participate. The fact that Jennifer thought about it, educated herself and did her research early in her pregnancy certainly says a lot about her character.”

Ivan shares he has a sibling on the way

Big brother to be Ivan shares that baby is on the way

Widdows connected with Kristen Wilt, TMC’s cord blood coordinator , who explained that TMC’s program doesn’t require expectant mothers to do anything ahead of their delivery. In fact, they can agree to participate in the program when they arrive at TMC in labor. TMC is proud to be the only hospital in Southern Arizona that’s part of the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program , administered by the Arizona Biomedical Research Commission .

So for now, that’s the plan as Widdows enters the home stretch of her second pregnancy. But she is thinking even further beyond that. “I can’t wait to teach my children about the easy ways people can make a difference for others. I believe that if we have these gifts, and just about everybody has the ability to donate something, why not help others in need?”

For more information about the program, please click here , or contact Kristen Wilt at (520) 324-6210 or Kristen.Wilt@tmcaz.com.
To learn more about the importance of cord blood donation, visit SavetheCordFoundation.org.

Baby Jayden: Potential lifesaver just by being born

Save a life, save the cord, #CordbloodBefore Sept. 30, the only thing expectant mom Celina Martinez knew about umbilical cord blood was that it was expensive to privately bank it – too expensive. “I knew I couldn’t afford it, so I didn’t think much about it,” she said.

When Martinez arrived at TMC in labor and settled into her delivery room, in walked cord blood consenter Ali Baker. “She told me that my son’s cord blood can help someone in need, and that if my son ever needed it, he could have it back if it was still available. So I figured why not? Otherwise, it was going to end up in the garbage,” said Martinez.

Baby Jayden Antonio Martinez was born at 4:24 pm, 7 pounds, 3 ounces. After he was delivered, his umbilical cord was clamped and cut. The remaining blood was drained out of it. Martinez didn’t notice a thing. “I was too busy looking at the baby to even realize they were collecting it. It didn’t hurt me or my baby,” she said.

Jayden is one of the first TMC babies to participate in the hospital’s new public donation program, the only hospital in Southern Arizona that’s part of the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program, administered by the Arizona Biomedical Research Commission . “I think it’s great that TMC has this program. If your baby’s blood can help someone in need instead of being thrown away, then why not participate?” said Martinez.

Proud grandma Sandra Martinez teared up while holding her new grandson, just thinking of the possibilities. “It’s wonderful to know that he may be able to help out someone else who is sick and may not have much time left to live. None of us know what’s going to happen to our children or grandchildren down the line. It’s comforting to know that if his blood makes it to the national registry and he needs it in the future, he can have it back if it’s available,” she said.

New mom Celina smiles at the thought of telling baby Jayden about his birthday. “When my son gets older, I can’t wait to tell him – hey, you may have saved a life just by being born.”

To learn more about the importance of cord blood donation, please visit SavetheCordFoundation.org.