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Cancer survivors tell their tales

  • Published
  • By Ruth Sowby
  • Glendale News-Press
The joint was jumpin' as Glendale Memorial Hospital hosted its 15th Annual tribute to cancer survivors. It was a "Star Spangled Salute" to more than 110 community members and their guests who have played a role in the fight against cancer. On July 28, the cul-de-sac circle on Eulalia Street, in front of the Glendale Memorial Cancer Center, was the colorful setting. The Marcia Ray Breast Center also played host. Its staff, supervised by Maryann Robertson, helped hang lanterns, flags and posters of the stars and strips to represent the evening's patriotic, USO theme. Robertson also organized the event.

National Guard Col. Nancy Sumner led the pledge of allegiance. Sumner, in full Guard uniform, is an emergency nurse who has been at the hospital for 35 years and in the National Guard for 28 years. Sumner is Commander of the 146 Medical Group at the Channel Islands Air National Guard Station. "I am in charge of the medical unit, and we look after the health and wellness of the troops," said Sumner. "And I get to be the boss of all the doctors," she added with a smile.

But it was Glendale Mayor Laura Friedman who brought down the house. Friedman was diagnosed with breast cancer at Glendale Memorial in 2006. She listed her "top 10 reasons to be glad you have cancer." One of those -- "Men in white coats are groping your breasts and you're OK with that."

Also recognized were the cancer survivors and their years of recovery. Joyce Woodruff has been a breast cancer for 32 years. Carla Shaw-de Heras was 19 years old when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She now has beaten the disease for 26 years. De Heras was accompanied by her mother, Barbara Shaw, also a cancer survivor and currently a patient at Glendale Memorial.

Oncology unit Director and Registered Nurse Elaine Ramirez was presented with the Donald L. Bogdon Cancer Survivor Award. Although not a cancer survivor herself, Ramirez has distinguished herself in the fight against cancer. She began at the hospital in 1994 as night shift supervisor.

As a salute to the evening's patriotic theme, the program ended with an interactive musical show by Andrews Sisters sound-alikes The Sentimental Sisters.


Another Glendale hospital was the setting for a different kind of party. On July 29, the staff at Verdugo Hills Hospital celebrated the 100th birthday of major donor Dr. August Giraldi. He was also recognized for his stewardship activity, including his contribution of $25,000 for Bariatric chairs and unrestricted funds to the hospital.

Dr. Giraldi practiced dentistry for over 50 years in both Chicago and Los Angeles until his retirement. He is an Emeritus Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry and has received the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission Outstanding Volunteer Service Award. Dr. Giraldi also received an award from the Providence St. Joseph Medical Center for his many years of voluntary service at the Children's Clinic.

Family members and hospital administrators attended the party. Daughter Camille Gembacz and her husband Judge Gilbert Gembacz were present as well as her sister Carlotta De Francisco. She was accompanied by husband, retired ob-gyn Dr. Joseph De Francisco.

Hospital administrators who didn't want to miss the party included CEO Len La Bella, Board of Trustees President Charles Mason, Vice President of Finance and CFO Cindy Trousdale and President of the Hospital Foundation Yulanda Davis-Quarrie.

After blowing out the candles on his birthday cake, Dr. Giraldi shared the secret to his longevity -- his 68-year marriage to wife Anne, who passed away last year. "My mind does not feel 100 years old, but my body has started to ache," said the birthday boy.