UK Markey Cancer Center joins Cancer Moonshot

Cancer Moonshot Summit at Markey spurs inspired conversation

World-class experts, cancer survivors and advocates joined forces at the UK Markey Cancer Center on Wednesday to contribute to the nationwide Cancer Moonshot Summit conversation.

Markey hosted an official Cancer Moonshot Summit in conjunction with the national Moonshot Summit held in Washington, D.C. Markey was one of 32 American Association of Cancer Institute centers to host a summit. Across the nation, more than 270 groups hosted their own events and receptions related to the Cancer Moonshot initiative.

For more, check out USA Today’s article on the Markey Moonshot Summit conversation.

Established by President Barack Obama during the 2016 State of the Union address and led by Vice President Joe Biden, the goal of the Cancer Moonshot is to double the rate of progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care over the next five years and to ultimately end cancer.

“The Moonshot cannot be achieved by one person, one organization, one discipline or even one collective approach,” Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday. “Solving the complexities of cancer will require the formation of new alliances to defy the bounds of innovation and accelerate the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and ultimately a cure. It’s going to require millions of Americans speaking up and contributing what they’re able. That’s what the Cancer Moonshot Summit is all about.”

At Markey, more than 100 people attended the summit, including cancer physicians, researchers, staff, patients, caregivers, philanthropists and others who play a role in cancer care. Attendees were divided into 11 groups to facilitate discussions on barriers to cancer research and care, ultimately developing a list of specific problems and suggested solutions to send on to the White House.

“This has just been a phenomenal event,” said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center. “Everybody coming together to talk about the problems we now face in cancer care and how we deliver cancer care is just really unique. Here at Markey, we wanted to look broadly at the initiatives of the Cancer Moonshot, but we want to tailor it to some unique challenges we face here in Kentucky.”

 


Next steps:

Louisville man receives heart, kidney transplants at UK HealthCare

He pushed through a failing heart for a decade, determined to avoid undergoing a transplant. But in the past year, 49-year-old Conrad Webster knew his time was almost up.

The stoic Louisville resident and Operation Desert Storm veteran, who was used to showing no weaknesses, was ready to seek serious help.

“I was getting scared because I was just getting so sick,” he said. “I was sick all the time, it just drained me.”

Diagnosed with cardiomyopathy – thickening and weakening of the heart muscles – in 2006, Webster spent the next several years managing the disease with medications. As his condition worsened, he experienced transient ischemic attacks (mini-strokes) from blood clots around his neck and heart.

Complicating matters further, Webster had also inherited polycystic kidney disease unrelated to his heart problems. This condition causes the kidneys to fill with cysts and ultimately fail. He began going in for dialysis three times a week, ultimately receiving medication for his heart during these trips as well.

In March, Webster’s problems came to a head when he collapsed at his fiancee’s house in Cincinnati, complaining of a severe headache.

“I couldn’t stand up,” he said. “I think I was crashing.”

As his daughters held him up, his fiancée, Leticia Willis, called 911 and he was rushed to a local community hospital. But Webster needed both a heart and kidney transplant, and dual organ transplants aren’t performed at every transplant center. After being turned away at three different regional transplant centers, Webster’s sister contacted UK’s transplant coordinators and he came in for an evaluation.

“Nothing seemed to work,” Willis said. “We were happy to come here. We were ready to try anything.”

At UK, he was evaluated by members of both the heart and kidney transplant teams. Due to the severity of his medical issues, Webster says UK cardiothoracic transplant surgeon Dr. Alexis Shafii told him he needed to be admitted right away.

“Dr. Shafii looked at me and said, ‘You’re not gonna leave here today,’” Webster said. “He said I probably wouldn’t have made it back home.”

On April 11,  he was listed for transplant, holding a spot high on the waiting list.

Many patients endure a lengthy hospital stay once they’re listed for transplant, but Webster’s wait was surprisingly short – just three weeks after he was admitted, and only a week of being listed for transplant, he learned that doctors had found a compatible donor. Willis, a nurse who works night shift, had returned to Cincinnati to work when she got a call from Webster to come back to UK.

“He called me and said, ‘You have to get back right away, they have a donor,’” she said. “He was talking so fast and crying, I could barely understand him.”

On April 18, around 2 a.m., Webster officially received his new heart, while his kidney was transplanted about 12 hours later. Following heart transplants, patients are usually encouraged to become mobile, often walking laps with assistance around the cardiovascular intensive care unit on the 8th floor of UK Chandler Hospital’s Pavilion A. A few days after Webster’s surgery, medical staff had him up out of bed and moving around, and within weeks, he had already regained a surprising amount of strength and stamina.

“I was walking so fast, they said they knew I’d be out of there real quick,” Webster said.

On May 14, just under a month after his double-organ transplant, Webster was discharged to go home. Since then, every day is an improvement on the last.

“I already feel a lot better,” he said. “I’m getting my stamina back, I’m breathing better.”

After overcoming a decade of serious illness, Webster can finally focus on enjoying life. He’s making plans to travel more, and in October, he and Willis – partners for 11 years – plan to get married. Though Louisville is his hometown, UK and its staff of transplant specialists will always hold a special significance.

“They’re unbelievable, they keep up with me all the time,” he said. “I found the right place. No one else would do my transplant, and I was running out of time.”


Next steps:

  • To join the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry, visit www.donatelifeky.org or sign up when you renew your driver’s license. The donor registry enables family members to know that you chose to save and enhance lives through donation. Kentucky’s “First Person Consent” laws mean that the wishes of an individual on the registry will be carried out as requested.
  • The UK Transplant Center specializes in the care of patients with advanced, end-stage organ disease. Learn more about our services.

Gill Heart Institute recognized for excellent STEMI care

All heart attacks are serious, but one type – called STEMI — is particularly deadly.

“A STEMI, or ST Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction, means an artery to the heart is 100 percent blocked, which is associated with a much higher short-term risk of death or disability compared to other types of heart attack,” Dr. Adrian Messerli of the UK Gill Heart Institute said.

More than 250,000 Americans suffer a STEMI each year and once heart muscle is damaged it will never grow back.

“That’s why immediate access to treatment for STEMI patients is critical to their recovery,” Messerli said.

The Gill Heart Institute has been recognized by the American Heart Association for its high quality treatment of STEMI patients with a 2016 Mission: Lifeline® Receiving Center BRONZE Recognition Award.

According to the AHA, the Gill is “part of an elite group of hospitals recognized … for quality heart attack care … treating patients according to nationally accepted guidelines.”

The AHA requires award recipients to adhere to rigorous standards including time to treatment of 90 minutes or less, administration of certain medications to reduce the chance of another heart attack, and other counseling such as smoking cessation.

“We have an incredibly talented and hard-working team, including nurses, staff and emergency medical personnel, all of whom contribute to successful patient outcomes,” said Susan Smyth, MD, PhD, Medical Director of the Gill Heart Institute.  “This award justly recognizes their work and ultimately is a reflection of the high standard of care we provide to the communities we serve.”

Team "Sun Shall Shine" is ready to "Survive the Night" to benefit cancer awareness.

UK HealthCare athletes ready to ‘Survive the Night’ to raise cancer awareness

In most work environments, teambuilding exercises usually don’t require actual physical activity. But for the UK HealthCare employees participating in this weekend’s second Survive the Night Triathlon, bonding will form over 140.7 miles of swimming, biking and running through the night into the early morning.

Developed by Markey Cancer Center radiation oncologist Dr. Jonathan Feddock, an avid triathlete, the event is a relay that allows up to 10 people to take on different sections of the race, playing to their personal strengths. Survive the Night is a part of a two-day bicycling event happening this weekend. All proceeds will benefit cancer research and programs at the UK Markey Cancer Center and the pediatric oncology clinic at Kentucky Children’s Hospital..

Team Running on Vapor, formed by nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologists who work in the brachytherapy suite with Feddock, is taking a second go-round in Survive the Night after competing last year. Team members Robbie Campbell and John Fletcher competed last year and say they’re looking forward to a repeat performance.

“We had a really good time last year,” Campbell said. “We developed a lot of camaraderie as a department.”

“We don’t really see each other until lunch or a break,” Fletcher added. “With this event, you got to see everyone in a completely different environment.”

Inspiration to others

Pharmacy resident Beth Cady, captain of Team Sun Shall Shine, heard about the event through the Bluegrass Cycling Club. As a former high school teacher and coach, and an athlete herself, Cady decided to gather a team of pharmacy specialists from the Markey Cancer Center, Transplant Center, and other parts of UK HealthCare to enter the competition this year. Cady says her team has two main objectives going into the race.

“Our goals are to complete something none of us have ever done, and also to just be an inspiration to others,” Cady said. “We’re just looking to have fun and spread a positive message.”

Team Sun Shall Shine’s inspiration comes from someone very close to the UK pharmacy community: Shane Winstead, who served as a pharmacy specialist for UK HealthCare for more than 20 years and continues to mentor young pharmacists at the university. Diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in January 2015, Shane’s positivity in light of a dire situation has rallied everyone around her.

“Her personality, her positive attitude, and her zest for life have been very infectious,” Cady said. “She’s been a driving force in our department. We were looking for some way to honor her, but also to exemplify the life she’s been living for the past two years.”

Cady’s group also has a special secret weapon. To further energize their team, Shane’s daughter Madison — an elite swimmer who will enter UK as a freshman this fall — will swim a few laps at the beginning of the race. Due to her training for the Olympic trials, the swimming will be more symbolic than competitive, but it’s one more way the team is honoring Shane and showing their strength as not just co-workers, but as family — or “pharmily,” as they affectionately call themselves.

“So Madison’s going to swim a few laps followed by a few of us not-so-qualified swimmers,” Cady said. “But we’ve got some triathletes on our team. We’re not necessarily looking to win, but we feel like we’re gonna do a darn good job out there.”

Standing up for Markey patients

Beginning this Friday at 7:30 p.m., teams Running on Vapor and Sun Shall Shine will take to the pool on UK’s campus alongside 22 other teams to kick off the Survive the Night Triathlon.

While the teams trickle in to the finish line at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday morning, the Lexington Cancer Foundation is also hosting its annual Roll for the Cure bike event at Commonwealth to raise awareness and funds for cancer care. Participants can choose the length of their ride: 95, 50, 35, or 10 miles through Kentucky horse farms, or a short Family Fun ride around the stadium. The longer rides will include rest stops at Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve.

Knowing that this event was created by a Markey doctor and directly benefits the patients at the cancer center is another reason Campbell felt compelled to compete again this year.

“It’s really motivating to see Dr. Feddock put himself out there for his patients,” Campbell said. “It feels like we’re all taking some ownership of the hospital.”

“I’m sure everyone knows at least someone in their life who has been affected by cancer,” Cady said. “So we wanted to raise awareness, potentially fundraise, and just do something good.”

Stay safe in summer’s heat

When summer temperatures arrive so does the risk for heatstroke – a condition marked by a dangerous rise in body temperature. Left untreated, heatstroke can severely damage the brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. It could even lead to death.

But there are ways to prevent it from happening in the first place.  This summer, keep these tips in mind:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Sports drinks work well, but there’s really nothing better for hydrating than plain old water. Be sure to drink around eight glasses a day, especially if you’re sweating.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Constricting clothing exaggerates the body’s natural insulation, but looser garments allow air to flow and keep the body cooler.
  • Use sunscreen with an SPF at least between 20 and 30. This should offer you protection from sunburns, which affect your body’s ability to cool itself.
  • Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest parts of the day. Usually that means between noon and 5 p.m. If you can, get your work done before or after.
  • If you must do something active between noon and 5 p.m., take frequent breaks. Rest inside or in the shade to allow your body to cool down.

Recognizing heatstroke in others

If you notice one or more of these symptoms in you or someone else, call 911 right away.

  • Changed behavior or mental state. Mood swings, irritability or confusion may signal that things aren’t right.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Flushed skin.
  • Rapid breathing, racing heart rate.
  • Headache.
  • Sweating or not sweating. Heatstroke from hot weather may lead to hot and dry skin, while heatstroke from exercise may lead to moist skin. Pay attention to both.
  • High body temperature. If your temperature reaches 104°F, get medical attention immediately. This is the definition of heatstroke.

Take immediate action

Remember, heatstroke is a medical emergency. If you think someone is having heatstroke, call 911 and do the following:

  • Move the affected person into shade or inside, preferably somewhere with air conditioning.
  • Remove any excess clothing, like jackets, vests or hats.
  • Cool them down by any available means. Put them in a tub of water, spray them with a hose or place a damp towel across their forehead.

Next Steps

UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital

KNI Stroke Center awarded for high-quality patient care

UK HealthCare’s Kentucky Neuroscience Institute (KNI) has received the Get With The Guidelines – Stroke Gold-Plus Quality Achievement Award by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association for maintaining nationally recognized standards for the treatment of stroke patients.

KNI also received the association’s Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite for meeting stroke quality measures that reduce the time between hospital arrival and treatment with the clot-buster tPA, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke.

Over 12 months, at least 75 percent of the hospital’s ischemic stroke patients received tPA within 60 minutes of arriving at the hospital (known as door-to-needle time). Stroke patients who receive tPA within three hours of the onset of symptoms may recover more quickly and are less likely to suffer severe disability.

This year marks the sixth year that KNI has received Gold Plus designation. KNI has been named to the Target: Stroke Honor Roll the past three years and repeats for the ‘elite’ level that was introduced last year.

Kentucky patients aren’t the only ones benefiting from this achievement.

“By participating in the Get With The Guidelines-Stroke program, we are able to share our expertise with other member hospitals around the country, including access to the most up-to-date research, clinical tools and resources, and patient education resources,” said Dr. Jessica Lee, medical director of the KNI Comprehensive Stroke Center.

Dr. Larry Goldstein, chair of the UK Department of Neurology and co-director of KNI, said that “Comprehensive Stroke Center status reflects our capability to provide the most advanced care for patients with stroke. These awards further underscore the hard work of our multidisciplinary team of neurologists, neurosurgeons, emergency physicians, nurses, therapists and others to optimize care delivery for stroke patients right here in Lexington.”

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the number five cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. In Kentucky, cardiovascular disease (which includes stroke) is the leading cause of death.  On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every four minutes; and 785,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

The KNI Stroke Center is also also certified as a “Comprehensive Stroke Center” by The Joint Commission – its highest honor.

New installation showcases artwork of UK alumna

For 25 years, Ellen Skidmore has found solace in art. As a stutterer, Skidmore discovered the non-verbal communication experienced in painting to be liberating and grounding. During her time as a student at a small liberal arts college in Kentucky, she began painting seriously. It was then she began to realize how this visual communication would allow her to interact more openly with herself and those around her.

While working on a children’s book to teach the alphabet, Skidmore began to share her story of living with a stutter and ultimately the book evolved and became, “Ellen the Little Girl Who Found her Voice.” This story serves as somewhat of an autobiography to illustrate how, like many children, Ellen was able to adapt and overcome. Skidmore hopes viewers will respond to the overall message that it’s okay to be different and we don’t need to try to be perfect.

After writing the story, Skidmore, who received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts, created the illustrations that would accompany the words. These larger pieces were put on display and, last summer, Skidmore celebrated the works completion with an art exhibit and book launch at Forre & Co. Art Gallery in Aspen, Colorado.

Skidmore feels a clinical setting is perfect for this piece; she hopes patients, staff and visitors will see her work. “Find your passion; if you find something in your life that is grounding you should stick to it no matter what,” she said.

The exhibit is currently on display in the North Gallery, located on the third floor of the Kentucky Clinic, in the hallway leading to the Limestone pedestrian bridge connecting the clinic to the Biomedical Biological Sciences Research Building. It is brought to you by the UK Arts in HealthCare program.


Studies show that integrating the arts into health care settings cultivates a healing environment; supports the physical, mental and emotional recovery of patients; and communicates health and recovery information. It also helps reduce stress and improves workplace satisfaction for caregivers. The mission of the UK Arts in HealthCare Program is to create a healing environment of care and to focus on the spiritual and emotional well-being of our patients, families, caregivers and staff.

The UK Arts in HealthCare Program, supported by the generosity of private donors, brings together visual and performing arts, incorporating the unique aspects of Kentucky landscape, art and music. The program highlights local, national and international artists, art in multiple forms, and various initiatives to enhance the healing environment. You will find art throughout our facilities, and the public is always welcome to visit and view exhibits.


 

UK HealthCare looks to improve research and help infertility heartbreak.

Knowing risks, options can aid those with infertility

Written by Patrick Hannon, post-doctoral researcher in the UK Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

About 15 percent of couples in the United States experience infertility, which is when a couple has tried to become pregnant for a year without success. Infertility comes as a shock to many couples who have spent years preventing pregnancy.

The inability to become pregnant leads to long-lasting and detrimental effects on a woman’s physical and emotional wellbeing. These detrimental effects include a decreased quality of life as indicated by increased levels of stress, impairments in physical and mental health, and diminished social functioning when compared to fertile women. Research has shown that being diagnosed with infertility has similar emotional and life-altering impacts as being diagnosed with cancer or a heart attack.

Infertility is a major public health concern as the diagnosis and treatment of infertility is estimated to cost society over $5 billion annually. For many couples, equally devastating is the realization that their health insurance does not cover infertility treatment, and all their medical costs must be paid out-of-pocket. It is critically important for UK infertility research to understand the causes of infertility in order to refine treatments, decrease the costs associated with infertility, and benefit the overall wellbeing of those suffering from infertility

Risk factors

The most prominent underlying causes of female infertility are defects in ovulation, or release of the egg from the ovary. The exact cause for defects in the woman’s reproductive tract is not entirely understood, but several risk factors are associated with infertility, including:

  • Untreated sexually transmitted infections
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Certain cancer treatment regimens
  • Endometriosis
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Exposure to environmental toxicants
  • Lifestyle factors such as smoking, drug use, excessive alcohol use, abnormally high levels of stress, and extreme weight gain or loss

Age and female infertility

However, the single most significant contributing factor to female infertility is age. Fertility greatly declines with age due to the natural depletion of eggs within the ovary and decreased quality of the remaining eggs, leading to increased chances of miscarriage. Further, the potential health of the child can be impacted by a woman’s age due to genetic abnormalities in the eggs of older women. As women in today’s society are delaying child birth for personal, professional and financial reasons, age becomes an important factor contributing to infertility.

Combating infertility

To combat infertility, women can undergo treatment from a trained infertility specialist, which includes infertility testing, drug treatment to aid in ovulation, surgery to repair abnormalities in the reproductive tract and assisted reproductive technologies (ART), which includes the commonly used in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure. In ART, the egg is fertilized outside the body before being placed back into the woman’s uterus. Unfortunately, the challenges of infertility treatments, specifically ART, are that success rates are low (approximately 56 percent) and decline with age.

UK infertility research

Scientists are continuing to refine and improve ART methods, such as working to optimize dosing regimens of the drugs that aid in ovulation, refining the conditions in which fertilization takes place outside the body, enhancing the procedures used to evaluate embryo quality prior to placing the embryo back into the woman, and investigating ways to preserve the fertility of cancer patients by using ovarian cryopreservation.

In our laboratories here at the University of Kentucky, we are determining precisely how ovulation is controlled in women and are identifying novel factors that drive ovulation. Each of these advancements aims to improve effectiveness, while decreasing the time and cost of infertility treatments.

 

Prevent Zika virus in Kentucky with repellent.

What you should know about Zika virus this summer

Talk of the Zika virus is everywhere these days, and it has many people understandably worried. On Tuesday, UK HealthCare experts held a news conference to answer questions about Zika. The bottom line? If you’re here in Kentucky and aren’t planning to travel this summer, your risk of catching Zika is very low. But there are things you can do to be prepared in case that risk increases this summer.

“At the present time, the risk for infection is low for Kentuckians not traveling to areas with active Zika,” said Dr. Phillip Chang, UK HealthCare chief medical officer. “However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to provide updates and if locally transmitted cases are found in the U.S., the risk could increase.”

What is Zika virus?

The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites or through sexual contact with an infected person. Currently, virus transmission is happening in many Caribbean and Central and South American countries. Although many people who become infected have mild or no symptoms, pregnant women who contract the disease are at high risk for complications. Zika has been linked to microcephaly, a potentially fatal neurological disorder characterized by an abnormally small head.

Currently, the only cases in the U.S. have been travel-associated. But concern is growing about the possibility of travelers spreading it to mosquitoes in the U.S., which can then infect people who have not traveled to countries with the active virus. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is the main carrier of the virus, can be found in the U.S. during the summer months, including Kentucky. This means that the Zika virus in Kentucky could be a real possibility.

“Currently, there is no anti-viral treatment and no vaccine for the Zika virus, so we are focusing on prevention and risk reduction and, if necessary, proper screening for our patients if Zika becomes a concern in the region,” said Dr. Derek Forster, UK HealthCare medical director for infection prevention and control.

Pregnant women and Zika

Since February, UK HealthCare’s obstetrics and gynecology clinics have been educating patients on the risks of Zika, particularly for pregnant patients or pregnant patients with partners who travel to these areas, said Dr. Wendy Hansen,chair of UK Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“We have been telling pregnant patients to postpone travel to areas with outbreaks of Zika virus, which currently is nearly all of Central America and much of the Caribbean and South America,” Hansen said. “We also are counseling and advising patients on what to do if they have partners that plan to or have traveled to these areas.”

According to current CDC guidelines, the following special precautions are recommended for pregnant women:

  • Pregnant women should not travel to any area with Zika.
  • If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your doctor or other health care provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
  • Until more is known, pregnant women with male sex partners who have lived in or traveled to an area with Zika virus should either use a condom every time they have sex or abstain from sex throughout the pregnancy.

Precautions for everyone

While the Zika virus is most dangerous for pregnant women who risk complications, everyone is urged to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites during the summer months to prevent possible spread of the disease.

Precautions include:

  • Wearing protective clothes, including long-sleeved shirts and long pants. For extra protection, treat clothing with permethrin, a chemical that repels insects and kills mosquitoes and ticks when sprayed on clothing, tents and other gear.
  • Using an EPA-registered insect repellent every day containing one or more of the following active ingredients: DEET, PICARIDIN or IR3535.
  • Using screens on windows and doors, and using air conditioning when available.
  • Keeping mosquitoes from laying eggs in and near standing water near your home.

“Although these precautions are especially important for pregnant women and women of childbearing age who want to become pregnant, we want everyone to educate themselves on how to protect their family members and friends,” Hansen said.

Watch UK HealthCare experts discuss Zika virus below.

 


Next steps:

  • The CDC recommends that testing for the Zika virus be done for pregnant women who have recently traveled somewhere with active Zika or anyone who has traveled and has symptoms.
  • For the most up-to-date information, visit the CDC’s website.