As a practicing pathologist in the Tampa Bay area, I knew of Moffitt only peripherally from its earliest days when one of my friends became Moffitt’s first head of the Pathology Department. Occasionally, a friend would mention having treatment there. However, due to my, “familiarity breeds contempt,” attitude, I didn’t think of Moffitt as somewhere I would go for cancer treatment.
Receiving an unfavorable mammogram report in 2017, I called an oncologist friend at New York City’s Sloan-Kettering Memorial Hospital and asked her recommendations for further care. In my ignorance, I assumed the best place would be elsewhere. Readily, she suggested Moffitt as one of the U.S.’ top breast cancer treatment centers and called upon friends to get me into the system. Within days, I saw Dr. Christine Laronga who took incredibly good care of me and helped with my decision to have bilateral mastectomies and sentinel node examinations. Although an operative date of the following week was offered, I opted for surgery a few weeks later. I had written the biography of one of Florida’s first woman physicians, a gynecologic surgeon and published it as, “Mary Jane Safford, MD: Indomitable Mite,” (on Amazon). The date for my first book signing approached, and Dr. Laronga assured me the short delay would not affect my outcome. The signing went well, and three days later, at 6:30AM Dr. Laronga met me in the pre–op area with a copy of my book and requested my signature on it. My surgery and post-operative course went very well thanks to Dr. Laronga, her staff and everyone I encountered at Moffitt. The caring, friendly, positive and professional attitude Moffitt employees project at both the hospital and the clinic is ubiquitous and factors in promoting healthy outcomes. In the 3 years since my surgery, I’ve never encountered anyone’s deviation from that attitude.
As for your question about my hopes for the future of cancer care and research—I am hopeful that despite Covid-19 setbacks, research and care will continue. One avenue I feel has been sorely neglected over the years is nutritional study. How does our diet affect our chances to develop, promote or prevent cancers? Can dietary modifications help treat cancers? As diet is helpful in modulating other conditions such as Type II Diabetes and hypertension, can it help in cancers? I understand research has begun, and I hope for its continuance.