News from the UF Shands Cancer Center
University of Florida
Shands Cancer Center
New cancer hospital planned for Gainesville
Patient tower to hin/,.!,,' '1 '. .Fe roo ms a d ,,.t 1i '/ '' S(r'i' 'ics
In October 2115, officials for Shands
HealthCare and the University of Florida Health
Science Center announced plans to establish a new
cancer hospital on the Shands at UF campus in
The cancer hospital will be located in the new
patient tower planned for the south side of Archer
Road, across ronn Shands at UF in Gainesville The
tower will provide 2110 additional private rorms and
a variety of healthcare services, including diagnostic
and therapeutic oncology care-
The Shands HealthCare Board of Directors
in March 2005 agreed to provisionally name the
tower the Shands at UF Cancer Hospital, subject
to philanthropy-related naming opportunities
Completion of the facility is expected in 2009.
Services provided in the new hospital will
complement existing oncology services provided at
the UF Shands Cancer Center in Gainesville.
The creation of the new tower will officially
set the stage for a vision shared by Shands and UF
for an expanded academic medical center campus.
"Over the next 15 years, we certainly
envision an extraordinary growth in services
that we will provide our patients in concert
-wth the incredible groundbreaking research
being conducted by the faculty at the University
of Florida," said Shands HealthCare CEO Tim
"We're excited to take this first step by
creating a cancer hospital that will make the
most up-to-date care available to more patients.
Throughout the planning, design and construction
process, our focus will be on giving our patients the
best possible healfhcare," Goldfarb continued
In March 2115, Shands announced an overall
preliminary expansion plan for the entire healthrare
system- According to Goldfarh, the new cancer
facility fits with the organization's vision to provide
more patients with enhanced access to care and meet
the region's future healthcare needs.
"We are in the business of putting
cancer out of business, and having this
hospital will allow us to do just that."
- Villiam Stratford Mav, MD, PhD, UF Shands
Cancer Center Director
According to UF Shands Cancer Center
Director William Stratford May, rMD., PhD, "When
complete, the new cancer hospital 1'dll pro ide .ll
aspects of care for oncology patients in an accessible
and welacming setting]"
May added, 'We'll offer patients more cancer
services under one roof We'll also continue to
provide the latest treatments, many of which have
been developed by researchers at the UF Shands
Cancer Center, which is why our care truly is 'bench
to bedside.' We are in the business of putting cancer
out of business, and having this hospital will allow
us to do just that"
a gift of hope
The Butlers give a gift of $1 million
to support the new cancer hospital
Clark Butler and his daughter, Deborah
Butler, ol Butler Enterprnses presented gift ol $1
million to support construction and development
of the Shands at the University of Florida Cancer
The presentation followed the October 2005
announcement of the cancer hospital
"Clau k and Deborah Butler ha\e been great
supporters of the Uns. ers it of Plonda for nanv
years," said UP President Bernie Machen, who
serves as chairman of the Shands HealthCare Board
of Directors. "This latest gift is a welcome addition
to UF's new university-wide capital campaign as
well as to one of the campaign's top priorities -the
construction of a new cancer hospitaL"
Tim Goldfarb said, "The Butlers are long-
time Gainesville residents and their generous
gift reflects their ongoing commitment to the
Clark Butler is president of Butler
Enterprises, a Gaineville-based land-development
and property-management company Deborah
Butler is vice president and general manager of the
organization The Butlers have made numerous
philanthropic contributions over the past 23 \r.us
Clark Butler was diagnosed with prostate
cancer in 1996 and turned to UP College of
Medicine faculty physicians and Shands at U for
his medical care
"As a result of excellent treatment I have
recovered and have been able to work full-time
for the last nine years," Butler said "After seeing
hundreds of other patients also receive wonderful
care at Shands, I thought it would be fitting for
Deborah and me to donate $1 million to spearhead
the beginning of the financial drive to build the
new cancer hospital."
Deborah Butler said, "Its hard to explain
what a scary experience it is when your loved one
is facing cancer. We're so thankful we had access
to phenomenal, quality care. I have my Dad here
today thanks to Shands and UF"
"We sincerely hope the Butlers' contribution
will be a ratalJs tri the addihlanal philanthropic
support required for this exciting endeavor,"
Goldfarb added- "UP and Shands together are
national leaders in research and patient care. With
continued philanthropic support, such as the lead
gift of the Butlers, we can make much more rapid
progress toward finding a cure far cancer and
enhancing the treatment alternatives available to
patients with cancer-"
The Beacon I Spring 2006
At the University of Florida
Shands Cancer Center, we offer
the most advanced individualized
cancer treatment at one of the
premier institutions within the
Southeast. This issue of The
Beacon highlights some of our
most recent scientific discoveries.
as well as advancements in
the delivery of care to those
diagnosed with cancer. You will
also read heartwarming stories
that provide hope and inspiration
W Stratford May, Jr, .
W Stratford May, Jr from individuals who have
received care from our teams of
physicians, nurses and technicians.
Three significant discoveries featured in this edition
showcase the breadth and depth of our talented members,
individuals whose lifelong quest is to find answers for the
prevention, detection, treatment and elimination of cancer.
Their research findings provide additional groundwork
for more precise and targeted detection methods and
therapies that are less toxic. These endeavors are all in
developmental stages, but all have exciting future clinical
application. Yet, still more work needs to be done.
You may have read encouraging news released
recently by The American Cancer Society stating there is a
decrease in the number of people dying from cancer last
year. Although this is encouraging news, there will still
be 1.4 million Americans diagnosed with cancer this year
and 565.000 will die from the disease. Yet. still more work
needs to be done.
Facilities such as the new Cancer and Genetics
Research Complex in Gainesville, the UF Proton Therapy
Institute in Jacksonville and the future Shands Cancer
Hospital in Gainesville are all part of the resources
necessary to make progress in scientific discovery and
provide a safe, caring environment for our patients and their
With your generous support, we are redefining the
boundaries of cancer research and clinical care. Our
combined efforts wil make an impact to eliminate the
suffering caused by this disease.
W. Stratford May Jr. MD. PhD
Director. UF Shands Cancer Center
Gastrointestinal (GI) Oncology Center
is established in Gainesville
A-. pmiL of the ongoing conuinutLment to excellent, patient-focused,
multidisciplinary clinical care, the UF Shands Cancer Center established the GI
Oncology Center. Coleen Booker, RN. accepted the pivotal role of nurse coordinator
for all adult g.ilsroireALuidl iGI) oncology services. She, along with Laura Buono,
cancer services business representative, will be responsible for assisting patients and
referring physicians with access and navigation -luoiigh 0oil comrLplesx Ien'. j1s well as
serving as the liaison between patients, referring physicians and the Cancer Center's GI
oncology team of physicians and staff.
Reducing the high anxiety time period for patients is one of the UF Shands
Cancer Center's primary goals, and dedicating two individuals to manage the
cumbersome task of scheduling tests, labs, surgical procedures, consults, financial
counseling across multiple disciplines as well as psycho-social support will expedite
the individual's treatment- Another very important function of the GI oncology
coordination team is to work in concert with the Cancer Center's clinical trials office,
ensuring that patients are introduced to and educated about available clinical trials.
The GI oncology team specializes in the detection and treatment of cancers of
the anus, colon, esophagus, gallbladder, liver, pancreas, rectum, retoperitoneum, small
intestine and stomach.
To contact the GI Oncology Center, please call (352) 265-0990.
UF Shands Cancer Center gives new hope
to spine tumor patients
In treating tumors near the spinal cord with radiation therapy, the key is
to hit the tumor with the treatment beams and avoid exposing the spinal cord to
damaging levels of radiation. Satisfying both requirements using conventional
treatment technology can he difficult in many cases, often leaving doctors with no
choice but to withhold treatment. The UF Shands Cancer Center now offers patients
with spine tumors new hope foi be.l-ig rcancer i Irh i soplushr.iated new radiation
treatment machine that enables more confident targeting of lesions near the spine-
In November 2005, Uir. en ith o Floand, i rli:ihon or iiolog is' ,-i the UF
Shands Cancer Center used their Elekt., S 'nerg i R i S radiation treatment system
in its first spine tumor patient, a case that would not have been attempted using a
conventional treatment machine_ This technology provides a cutting-edge solution
for high precision radiation therapy to sharpen targeting and treatment of tumors
near the spinal cord.
The Elekta system is the first clinical product of a new class of Image Guided
Radiation Therapy (IGRT) systems, which use imaging technology to enhance
target localization before treatment. This capability allows physicians to visualize
tumors at the point of treatment to more precisely target tumors with radiation
beams. Many patients once considered "untreatable" have new options to improve
quality of life and long term survival.
PHOTO ON COVER: A view through the mutileaf collu i t e or Ele k,. llt I H S
radiation treatment system.
The Beacon I Spring 2006
Cure no quick fix for cancer survivors on road to recovery
Patients who hear the dreaded words "you
have cancer" in uabhlv look forward to the dan the
doctor tells themn"our secured But University of
Florida researchers say survival often comes at its
own pnce the mind mt\ need nmnding even after
the body heals.
A national study of cancer patients who
underwent bone marrow transplantation reveals
cancer diagnosis and treatment has a profound
and lasting emotional and physical impact that can
persist for decades- In fact, many caner survivors
report lingering sleep and sexual problems, pain,
cognitive problems and generally poor physical
well-being relative to their healthy peers, said John
Wingard, MD, director of the blood and marrow
transplant program and deputy director of the UF
Shands Cancer Center for the Gainesville campus.
The study was the largest to date to assess long-term
quality of life issues arnnng these patients_
"A cure is not necessarily nrnnvmls with
total resumption of good health," Wingard said.
Many patients suffer ph,.iral complications,
such as infections or toxicity from intensive
chemotherapy and radiation treatment he said. And
both the patient and the family must often travel
to specialized tertiary care centers distant from
the home, requiring them to establish a temporary
residence for a number of weeks or even months.
Their work is disrupted, and they frequently face
finannal challenges and high health-care costs
"All of this occurs in the setting of a
considerable amount of anxiety about whether
the transplant is going to be successful, whether
the cancer is going to be controlled, and whether
potentially lethal complications will occur during
therapy,' Wmgard said "Theindividual and
the family are subjected to a pressure cooker of
emotions and challenges they need to face "
The findings, published m the founial of
Clinical On)iogv in 215, highlight the need for
doctors to help their patients cope with the often
traumatic experience of fighting cancer and the
stresses they live with in its aftermath, Wingard
Each year, an estimated 30100 Americans
undergo a bone marrow or peripheral blood stem
Dr. John Winganird and colleagues comnpleled a sludyto
assess long-lerm quality of life issues for patients.
cell tr.nEplant. h picall procedures of last resort
Others described the post-cancer phase as a time of
ps'chologcral and in terpersonal grmvth. RearNchers
say that's because merely surviving puts some
problen- in perspective These patients reported
the experience strengthened relationships, renewed
their appreciation for life, reordered priorities,
increased empath. and deepened spirihialiht.
"One unique facet of this study was that it
also looked at good that came out of facing a life-
threraening llness," Wingard said.
"What we found was that a number of the
sun-vo s reported psThoogical grovwh and that
this positive finding might have leavened some of
the losses they experienced. For that reason, many
of them, when balancing positives and negatives,
felt that their life was better Some pursued a
new career, others found strength in renevnmg
relationships with spouses, family and friends,
reassessing what was important to them in life"
Wingard said tie sEud\ emphasizes the
need for ph ricican to remember that providing
emotional support and teaching patients and their
families coping skills are often as important as
focusing on fixing physical problems- Practitioners
also must work on identifying at-risk patients and
families who may need extra attention from the
Couple give more than $800,000 to the Cancer Center
The seed was planted several years ago when James and Barbara
Mondello of Palm City toured the McKnight Brain Institute after the
couple's son suffered a broken neck that left him paralyzed.
Almost as an afterthought on that visit, the Mondellos were
introduced to Dr. Stratford May, the newly hired director of the UF Shands
Fast-forward five years to 2005. James and "This gift is to s
Barbara Mondello, each happy to have survived for the constant
a personal bout with cancer, have donated more from all the Gat
than $800,000 to fund new research at the cancer Mondello said.
Neither Mondello graduated from the Universityof Florida, butthey
said in making the gift, "Our connection to the university, and especially
the cancer center, is strong "
May said that although the Mondellos were not treated at the cancer
center, they had come to Gainesville for a second opinion when they were
"I told him at the time we'd do anything we could for any of them,"
"This gift is to show our gratitude for the constant support we
receive from all the Gators we know," James Mondello said.
When the cancer center's community advisory board was created,
the Mondellos were charter members.
our gratitude "The purpose of the board is to increase
ort we receive community awareness of what we do, and of
re know," James course, to do fund-raising," May said. "In that
capacity, Jim has stepped out like the leader he
Mondello was a Fort Lauderdale-based regional bank executive for
Barnett Bank, now Bank of America, when he retired in 1998.
The Mondello gift is eligible to be matched with funds from the
state's major gift trust fund. James Mondello said that with the new
research building under way, he thought the time was right.
"Hopefully this will induce others to do the same," he said.
This article is courtesy ofDiane Chua, Gainesville Sun. The story was published on Feb. 24, 2005.
The Mondello's generous gift to the llnirersity of Florida Shands Cancer Center was matched by the State
of Florida Legislature in May 2005, therefore increasing the endowment to $138 million.
The Beacon I Spring 2006
around the center
UF Scientists say stem cells may trigger bone cancer
Stem cells may cause some forms of bone
cancer, University of Florida scientists report.
The researchers are the first to identify a
population of cells with characteristics of adult
and embryonic stem cells in cultures derived from
biopsies of patients' bone tumors They describe
their findings in the November 2005 issue of the
medical journal Neoplasmi
"We're saying the cell of origin of these
tumors may be very, very primitive," said C. Parker
Gibbs, MLD-, a member of the UF Shands Cancer
Center and an associate professor of orthopaedic
oncology Gibbs collaborated with several UF
scientists, including UF Shands Cancer Center
member Dennis A. Steindler, PhDID, director of UF's
McKnight Brain Institute-
Researchers elsewhere already have
implicated stem cells in the development of
leukemia, and Stendler's lab previously discovered
stem-like cells in brain cancer Others have
identified these same cells in some breast cancers.
The studies are laying the foundation for
novel ideas about cancer and its development, and
are opening new avenues of research that could
someday lead to more effective treatments that
target the mutant cells that grow into tumors.
The cancer stem cell theory holds that a small
ubpopula bion of rogue teni celL exist- i idun a,
tumor and has the ability to sustain itself As these
abnormal cells divide, they may generate the bulk of
a malignant tumor, then help to spur on
"Most current chemotherapeutic
regimens are developed against the bulk
tumor and therefore may not affect the
small number of malignant stem cells,
allowing recurrence and even metastasis,"
Osteosarcoma is the most common
bone malignancy in children, most of
whom are 10 to 20 years old and ina
period of rapid growth when the disease
is diagnosed- Despite advances in surgery
and chemotherapy, many patients do not < _
survive long-term C P
"Osteosarcoma is an extremely Ortt
aggressive tumor that destroys bone and seco
requires surgery and chemotherapy to cure," Gibbs
said. "The current cure rate is approximately 65
percent with yearlong chemotherapy and radical
surgery, but we still lose 30 to 40 percent of these
kids despite that kind of aggressive therapy. So the
thought was, 'Gee, what are we missing?'
"The existence of stem-like cells in bone
sarcomas suggests that the study of stem cell biology
may provide opportunities for targeted therapies
thl itre u nmrukedl], le toxic th:n curSrelt aggre S
chemotherapy and surgical protocols," he added.
Stem cells are primed to multiply and divide
in almost unlimited fashion, and develop into many
kinds of organs- A bone stem cell for example,
develops into bone- Osteosarcoma resembles bone
but looks abnormal A stem cell "gone bad" could
potentially multiply to produce an abnormal organ
that is cancerous, Gibbs said-
"Osteosarcoma occurs right next to the most
active centers of growth, the growth plates in long
bones," Gibbs said. "These areas of the skeleton
contain many stem cells undergoing rapid growth
and developing into bone during the adolescent
growth spurt It makes sense that bone sarcomas
occur in anatomic areas containing stimulated
stem cells- A stimulated, abnormal stem cell might
therefore be the cell of origin of osteosarcoma."
UF researchers studied two types of tumors
- osteosarcomas common in childhood and
adolescence, and chondrosaromas, a form of adult
arker Gibbs, Jr., MD, Associate Professor in the Departmen
lopaedics and Rehabilitation (right) and Sean McGarry, M
nd ear ortllopaedit oncology fellow left) in the laboratory,
bone cancer that requires aggressive surgery to treat
because it does not respond to che-moherapy or
Using specialized cell culture techniques,
they were able to isolate stem-like cells from bone
tumors. About one in 1,=D cells in the samples
they studied had features of embryonic stem cells-
The researchers also found abundant levels in their
samples of the two key factors that help maintain
enmbhr. ur : stem cels in 'i ver. plmiuhi e state
"We found expression of these two
transcription factors not only in culture but also in
actual tumors," Gibbs said "We were first to show
these cancers expressed both of these embryonic
stem cell markers.
"That these cells exist in bone sarcomas
suggests osteosarcomas and chondrosarcomas might
be stem cell diseases," he added. "This is pretty
The discovery gives scientists new targets for
treatment, he said.
"The next step, which is ongoing, is isolating
and growing tumors from these cells in animals
and then finding ways to interfere with that growth
based on their stem cell biology," Gibbs said. "So
the study of embryonic and adult stem cell biology
may provide more effective ways to treat childhood
Still, the precise role stem-like cells play in
the development of cancer is not entirely clear,
said Eric C. Holland, MDD, Ph.D., an
associate professor in the departments
of neurosurgery, neurology, and cancer
biology and genetics at Menorial Sloan-
Kettermg Cancer Center.
"Dr. Gibbs' identification of very
early cells in these tumors has important
S implications for our understanding of
cancer biology," Holland said- "But
further work needs to be done to
determine what the role of cells of this
nature is in cancer biology whether they
are the cells of origin, the cause of cancer
or the effect of the environment generated
t of by a tumor Cle.ul' it -i quite ani e\r inng
D, a time for people who are interested in cells
I. like this."
The Beacon I Spring 2006
Molecular force field helps cancer cells defend against attack
Much as the famed starship Enterprise would deploy a deflector shield to
evade enemy attack, tumor cells are capable of switching on a molecular force
field of their own to fend off treatments aimed at killing them Now University of
Florida researchers have found a chink in their armor.
The cells chun out an enzyme that bonds with a protein, creating a
protective barrier that deflects damage frm radiation or chemotherapy and
promotes tumor cell survival. But in laboratory experiments, UF scientists were
able to block the union, and the malignant cells died. The findings are opening
new avemnes of research that could lead to improved
cancer therapies, the researchers reported February in
the journal Cancer Research.
"We have found a gene called focal adhesion
kinase which is produced at very high levels in
human turmrs, and our work has shown this makes
the tumors more likely to survive as they spread
throughout the body and grow," said William G_
Cance, M.D, Assistant Director of Clinical Affairs
for the UF Shands Cancer Center in Gainesville and
chairman of the department of surgery at UF's College
of Medicine "It also makes them more resistant to our Dr. William Cance and c
attempts to kill them- And we're trying to understand to kill cancer cells in the
exactly why this gene, which is a small enzyme ability of a gene to bind
molecule, is very intimately associated with tumor cell survival."
Focal adhesion kinase, or FAK, is commanding increasing attention and
has spawned a flurry of research designed to develop new drug therapies, said
Cance, who is known internationally for his genetic investigations of tumor
survival- These medicines would prevent FAK from linking with the protein
known as vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 3, or VEGFR-3. The pmtein
is tied to the growth of channels in the lymph system that serve as cellular
superhighways for cancer spread and is found in breast, colon and thyroid
Cance and colleagues were the first to pull FAK
out of human tumors and to show that human cancers
make the molecule in large quantities. In 1996, the
team was the first to show that if a tumor is prevented
from producing the enzyme it dies. The scientists also
have identified some protein receptors FAK binds to;
VEGFR-3 is the latest they've discovered.
Breast cancers that pump out high volumes
of FAK and VEGFR-3 are more aggressive tumors,
Cance said. The scientists were able to block FAK from
egues have found a way binding with VEGFR-3 by introducing a different
oratory by blocking the protein that stopped cancer cells from dividing and
th a protein. caused them to die but spared normal breast cells.
Scientists closer to new cancer detection method
University of Florida researchers say they are a
step closer to a technique to easily detect a wide variety of
cancers before symptoms become apparent.
The findings, noted in the Proceedings of th National
A4uLa, tLi of j-.;id-, unlol.e introducing molecudarlyu
engineered strands of DNA into cell cultures and
observing whether they unleash a fluorescent burst after
Weihong Tan, PhD they adhere to cancer proteins.
The technique could enable doctors to search within
e, tremnely compile fluid or tissue samples to pinpoint biomarkers proteins that
signal that something is amiss.
"Even when the cancer bionmarkers are in extremely low concentration we
have been able to detect them," said Weihong Tan, PhD., a member of the UF
Shands Cancer Center, a UF Research Foundation professor of chemistry in the
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a member of the UF Genetics Institute
and the McKnight Brain Institute. "This approach could help for early diagnosis
of cancer, as well as for detecting residual cancer in patients after treatment."
It works by capitalizing on fluorescent molecules engineered into tiny
strands of DNA or RNA. Known as aptamers, the strands act as molecular
beacons, corresponding and readily binding to a sought-after substance such as
In this case, the target was platelet derived growth factor, or PDGF, a
protein rt.it egul.ites cell gi -vth ,ud division. Elevated PDGF levels have
been linked to different forms of cancer, and have been found in patients with
nixdigancie3 of the o, .uies kidne.'-. lung, pancreas and brain-
After the probe physically conforms to the PDGF, the molecule can be
snapped on like a light switch to flash a fluorescent signal.
Tan, the associate director of UF's Center for Research at the Bio/Nano
Interface, is seeking to patent the technology in conjunction with UF. He has been
issued four U.S. patents for his work in the past two years.
"In ) oiu bod,. it you want to detect a molecule that coexists with
many other molecules, you have to sort through the signals from the other
molecules," Tan said- We ha, e engineered a noleculau switch that turns on the
Much work remains to be done, but the technique potentially could be a
diagnostic tool for cancer and other diseases. It could also be used to detect illicit
drugs, such as cocaine, in the body, researchers say-
"E\ entuall ,e ildd I ike to see this assay become as convenient as a
pregnancy test," said Chaoyong James Yang, a chemistry doctoral student in the
Tan group and the first author of the paper. "Put the probe utiide .1 le,' drops of
hod.' iluid or blood iand .1 color change would be an indication of the existence of
a cancer biomarker in the body."
The Beacon I Spring 2006
Faces of toe
Survival Strides: A Story of Inspiration & Hope
C chemotherapy and radiation treatments
stole her strength and her hair
Steroids made her gain weight,
adding a burden to a frail and atrophied frame
Worst of all, she said, were the injections that
pumped poi .erful does of cheno direct ll. into her
"They're my vomitbutton," she said_
Here was Kristen Rabell, sick and weak, a once
vibrant and healthy young woman reduced to this 27
years old and feeling like 87.
During her toughest time the first few months
after the treatments for acute lymphoblastic leukemia
began in July of 20D4 one of her University of Florida
physicians was showing no sympathy.
Dr. Shahab Kahn, UP Shands Cancer Center,
kept pushing and prodding, telling his young patient
she needed to get up, she needed to walk even if it
was just across the roomL
"I just looked at him like, 'Boy, you're crazy
You need to get cancer and have some injections of
poison in you and try to walk,' she said.
So, Kristen began to walk, first across the roomc
then down the street and back- Eventually she made it
around the block and beyond.
Eighteen months and many miles later and
only a few weeks after undergoing chemotherapy
:mnduding tho-e sho irn her spinei Kristen Rabell
completed her ultimate walk and experienced the
ultimate sense of her own survival.
The Gainesville resident entered and completed
the P.FP Chang's Rock 'n Roll Marathon in Phoenix on
Jan. 15, walking and running the 26.2-mile course in six
hours, 11 minutes.
"My dad and his wife and some of my really
good friends came to see me. They were yelling out
nm, name and if real'. lell good," said Rabell, 28,
who competed in the Five Points of Life Marathon in
February 2006_ "1 had 'Survivor' on my shirt and a lot
of people .ere p.lting om' bn:k as I walked past
"I knew I was going to finishL It was that final
closure I felt like a door had been closed when I started
getting chemo and had to give up the life I had been
living. In a .a i. hi co imn pleting the mnar thon o, opened
In the summer of 2SiM, Kristen Rahell was
enjoying one of the happiest, most fulfilling times of
her life- The P.K Yonge and Florida State graduate
with a degree in creative writing was living and
working in Puerto Rico, teaching children how to speak
English. She and a roommate shared a house on the
V\hen she tl.,rted experiencing paui in her legs
The abridged article is courtesy ofRobbie Andreu,
Gainesville Sun. The story was published Feb. 17, 2006.
and back, she initially dismissed it-
But the pain became more persistent, more
pronounced, and she was becoming increasingly
"I felt like an older person," she said_ "I felt my
energy slowly dying down I didn't have the energy to
stay up and watch TV."
At the dinner table one night in early July, a
pain ripped through the middle of her back that was so
intense it knocked her to the ground. Pain pills brought
temporary relief Around midnight, the pain was back -
and even stronger. She managed to crawl to bathroom,
where she began throwing up.
Clara Driebe knew right away something was
seriously wrong with her daughter
"She was so sick and in so much pain," said
Driebe, who is married to a physician- "I knew in my
heart this is bad-"
Driebe wanted to travel to Puerto Rico to
take care of her daughter- But she and her husband
reconsidered and decided Kristen needed to come
Rabell was taken to the emergency room at
Shands, where blood work and a bone marrow biopsy
revealed the family's worst fears: Kristen had leukemia.
"It was profound how fast she was going
down," Driebe said.
The chenmohe rap,.' ,i.d r.A di lon beg.m at :orce
"The doctors said if they had not found this and
started treating me immediately, I would have had
three to seven days to live," Kristen said.
About two months into her treatment, Rabell felt
good enough to walk down the street and back with
her half-sister Maggie, who is now 1il About a month
later, Kristen and Maggie walked around the UP track
in "Light the Night", an annual event that recognizes
and honors cancer survivors. It was here that Rabell
saw a flyer for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's
Team in Training Teamin Traurng TNT is tlhe
world's largest endurance sports training program. The
program trains runners, walkers, cyclists and triathletes
- some of them cancer survivors for events across the
"We have had a lot of cancer survivors in
the program. But usually they come in after their
treatment. I believe Kristen is the only one I've trained
in the middle of chemo What she's done is extremely
Rab ell is currently in therapy maintenance- She
takes chemo pills daily and gets the full treatment
- chemo and lumbar injections every three months-
Her latest blast of chemo came in December, less than a
month before the marathon in Arizona.
That's when she started having doubts.
"She e-mailed me and told me she was going
through a rough spell," Speer said. "I e-mailed her back
and said, 'Ibelieve in you You've done a great job. I
want you to believe in yourself-' "
After missing a week, Rabell resumed her
training with TNT and made the trip to Arizona, where
she completed the marathon, ending a long personal
During the race, her father was standing at about the
nine-mile mark, waiting for his daughter to walk past.
When he spotted her, she was running.
"It was a proud moment," said Evo Rabell, who
owns a prominent real estate company in town- "What
she's done is from pure heart, wanting to succeed."
She said she feels like she's beaten the cancer_
'" really do," she said- "Physically, my muscles
are strong again- At my worst moments, I felt I wasn't
in control. I'm back in control now and I feel like me
Coming off the UF track earlier this week,
Kristenwas asked by someone who had been running
if she was a walker. She smiled and said, yes, leaving it
But, of course, she's much more than a walker
and a marathoner.
She is a survivor. a
update on Kristen's run
Kristen finished the half marathon in February.
'The half marathon was great," she said- "I
really look forward to running another marathon,
but the training is like a part time job-one that
requires you to run eight or nine miles every day
I'd like to be able to do that However, Fm not
really f 'normal health' ar.d It .er, t~rr,, and
takes a lot out of me."
She said that she still participates with the
Team in Training and continues to raise money and
awareness for Leukemia research and prevention
"I just want to keep running," she said
Kristen's next run will be the Minnie Marathon
15K at Disney World this May
The Beacon I Spring 2006
Transplant recipient pays back donor
In 1999, Tom Petersen was given a 30
percent chance of surviving acute lymrphoblastic
leukemia when he received a bone marrow
transplant at the UF Shands Cancer Center. Tom
has been cancer-free since then and has not taken
any cancer-related medication for the past five
of South Florida
and his bone
Doug in a letter
from the bottom
of my heart," Tom
said "I'm forever grateful to Doug."
Over the years, the two have built a close and
"He's really oltgoing and tnendly," Doug
said. '"t'i e.uLm to oIu e someone like Tom"
In 203B, Tom found himself providing
uplifting support to Doug who nearly died in a
plane crash Tom used the same sense of humor and
optimistic outlook that saw him through his cancer
battle to help Doug keep his spirits up during his
recovery. Today, Doug walks with the help of a
hack brace and will he married later this summer.
"Whether I am the best man or a guest, I
would not miss that day for anything" Tom said.
It will certainly be a day of celebration for
these two friends who have both cheated death-
When asked what advice he would offer a
cancer patient, Tom said that "you must keep a
"Also, you must do everything the doctors
and nurses tell you to do," he said "If mine had
told meto jnmp, I iould has e aked, 'howhigh-'"
Tom encourages cancer patients to keep
a sense of hunmr- While in treatment, Tom was
able to do this by talking and laughing in the
"The nurse threatened to give me
benadryl if I did not hush up," he said
In addition to a positive attitude, Tom
believes that faith and prayer helped himin
the healing process He said that he became
friends with many of the patients who were
also undergoing treatment- Man of the faces
he sawregularly finished their treatment and
went hack to living their lives; others did not.
The loss of those friends has made an impact on
"It bothered me to lose them, hut you
cannot give up. You CAN survive," he said
Tom Petersen is living proof that cancer
can be defeated. It is also cear that survivors
can once again enjoy a great quality of life. Tom
is one of thousands who are living that life right
TV show gives Shands' patient a new home
you can help
ABC's popular television show Extreme
Makeover: Home Edition featured a patient of the
University of Florida Shands Cancer Center on
March 20 during a special two-part edition
Cast members from the hit show, including
Ty Pennington and Paige Hemmis, visited Shands at
UF during February to capture footage of the patient
with his family, doctors, nurses and staff.
Dunstan Rainford, a 47-year-old native of
Jamaica and a cobbler and nursing assistant by
trade, was diagnosed in early 20115 with a rare form
of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. As a result of seizures,
severe pain and other symptoms associated with
his disease, Dunstan was left unable to work at his
job at a hospice in Palm Beach County His primary
care physician and doctors at Jupiter Medical Center
referred him to the UF Shands Cancer Center
In the midst of his struggle with cancer and
raising his two children and a niece as a single
father, Dunstan's home in Riviera Beach was
severely damaged by Hurricane Wilma Unable to
afford a new roof and the many repairs necessary
for the house, the Rainford family lived for several
months in nearly uninhabitable conditions.
Ty Pennington, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
host (second from left) and Dunstan Rainford,
patient and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
plrtidipl Ibottno righli; smile i ilh the LT
Shands Cancer Center BMT staff.
Jupiter Medical Center and UF Shands
Cancer Center staff, moved by Dunstan's plight
and captivated by his warm, caring and sincere
personality, assisted in the submission of an
application to ABC on his behalf
Dunstan currently is at Shands at UF awaiting
a bone marrow transplant from his sister_
Today cancer continues to impact the lives of
millions of Americans. Nationwide, the number of
cancer cases is expected to double by 2025.
As part of Florida's premier academic
medical institution, we are poised to make a huge
contribution to the race to cure cancer. Many
important advances in prevention, early detection
and treatment are occurring right here and right now
in your UF Shands Cancer Center.
Private philanthropy for this important
effort is critical. Additional resources will allow
us to continue to recruit world-class scientists
and perform the cutting-edge research needed to
find curative therapies for the multitude of deadly
malignancies cancer represents.
YOU CAN HELP by investing in the UF
Shands Cancer Center. Your partnership will play
a meaningful role in the treatment of every patient
who benefits from the medical advances emerging
from our research labs, clinical trials and state-
of-the-art patient care. Equally important, your gift
is a powerful statement about you. That you too,
desire to see the elimination of suffering and sorrow
caused by this disease. With your support we ae...
and will continue to make a difference for thousands
of patients and their families as we press on toward
For more information, contact Elaine
Cunningham, Director of Development, at (352) 273-
The Beacon I Spring 2006
The Beacon is a publication for the friends of
the University of Florida Shands Cancer Center
W Stratford May Jr. MD, PhD
Deputy Director, Gainesville
John R Wingard, MD
Chi ef Adm i nistrative Off icer
Joseph F Woeikers, MA
Associate Vice President for Health Science
Jancy L Houck
Director of Development
Director of Planning. Marketing & PR
Diane K Hammon
Managing Editor& Layout
Courtney P Holmes
Susan Lee Lewis
Health Science Center News and
Shands Marketing & Public Relations
The Gainesville Sun
If you do not wish to be contacted concerning our
philanthropic efforts. please send the development
office a letter stating your request.
tell us what you think
The Beacon is designed to bring you the latest news and
events happening at the UF Shands Cancer Center. We
welcome your feedback as we seek to make this publication
an informative and useful resource for our supporters. Ifyou
or a friend would like to be added to the mailing list. please let
us know by contacting the UF Shands Cancer Center Office of
Development at (352) 273-5855.
University of Florida
Shands Cancer Center
P.O. Box 103560
Gainesville, Fla. 32610