Cancer Patient Honors Her Doctor and Nurses for “Gift of Hope”
NorthShore patient Sandy Schutz, middle, with her husband Ron, left, and Dr. Gustavo Rodriguez
When Sandy and Ron Schutz are asked what prompted their very generous gift to NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center, they don’t miss a beat: “Their gift to us…the gift of life…the gift of hope.”
About six years ago, Sandy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. A physician friend on staff at NorthShore referred her to Gustavo Rodriguez, MD, Director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at NorthShore and the Matthews Family Chair of Gynecologic Oncology Research. Sandy had surgery and chemotherapy and was “clear” for three-and-a-half years before “the cancer reared its ugly head again,” she said. She’s on her fourth round of chemotherapy now. When she was feeling better between treatments, she had a prophylactic double mastectomy. Genetic testing had revealed she had an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime.
She praises Dr. Rodriguez for his “professionalism, competence and compassion. He’s the perfect doctor because he has knowledge, a great bedside manner and he’s a researcher. He continues to give me hope.”
“This isn’t a journey you choose to be on,” said Ron Schutz, “but our family and friends and the great team at NorthShore have given us a sense of hope and courage to continue the fight.” Sandy and Ron were encouraged early on by Dr. Rodriguez to get second opinions from other medical institutions, and they did. They discovered “NorthShore is the leader in this field, right here in the Chicago area,” said Ron.
The Schutzes are so pleased with Sandy’s ongoing care that they established The Sandy and Ron Schutz Ovarian Cancer Research Fund in honor of Dr. Rodriguez so he can continue his groundbreaking and promising research to develop an oral medication for the prevention of ovarian cancer.
“On behalf of the women and their families whom we serve, I can’t thank Ron and Sandy enough for their support, and for partnering with us in the fight against ovarian cancer,” said Dr. Rodriguez. “We know enough today to prevent most ovarian cancers from ever occurring. This gift will allow us to continue to develop the discoveries that we have in the laboratory, while at the same time implementing what we know to lessen ovarian cancer risk in our community and beyond.”
The Schutzes’ $100,000 gift means his research team will continue their pioneering work, which has shown that the use of an oral contraceptive pill offers up to a 30 to 50 percent reduction in the risk of developing ovarian cancer. Researchers also are studying how vitamin D provides similar benefits. In addition, the Schutzes made a $50,000 gift to establish The Sandy and Ron Schutz Oncology Nursing Education Fund, which honors Ann Puglisi, a registered nurse who works with Dr. Rodriguez and the team of oncology nurses. That fund will be used for the nursing staff’s professional development, such as attending conferences and taking advanced certification courses.
NorthShore patient Sandy Schutz, left, with her husband Ron and Ann Puglisi, RN
“The other Kellogg nurses and I are extremely grateful to the Schutzes for the opportunity this gift affords us,” said Puglisi. “I believe Kellogg has some of the most compassionate and intelligent nurses in the field, and this gift allows us to improve our talents even more.”
“The oncology nurses, all of them, are just amazing,” said Sandy Schutz. “They’ve been in the trenches with me, and we wanted to acknowledge their wonderful care and compassion. It’s important to us that they are able to further their education and have new opportunities.”
For more information about supporting NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center and nursing professional development, please call Lauren Bergquist, Assistant Vice President, Fund Development, at 224.364.7214.