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American Cancer Society Honors Exemplary Cancer Caregivers with Lane W. Adams Quality of Life Award
Award honors individuals who provide excellent cancer care

ATLANTA – October 2, 2017 – Seven outstanding individuals have been honored with the 2018 American Cancer Society Lane W. Adams Quality of Life Award, a prestigious national honor for their leadership in serving the complex needs of cancer patients and their families.

The Lane W. Adams Quality of Life Award recognizes individuals who consistently exhibit excellence and compassion in providing care to cancer patients, going beyond their professional roles to make a difference in the life of cancer patients and their families. This award also represents the concept of the “warm hand of service,” which is an integral part of the Society’s commitment to excellence in cancer care and specifically emphasized by Lane W. Adams when he served as executive vice president of the American Cancer Society. Lane’s definition of the warm hand of service was to “serve others and enrich the purpose of one’s existence.”

This year’s recipients include Marguerite “Peggy” Belanger, RN BSN, OCN, Biddeford, ME; Elsa Santiago Class, RN, Carolina, Puerto Rico; Peter Hopewood, M.D., Falmouth, MA; Suzanne Lagarde, M.D., MBA, FACP, New Haven, CT; Darci McNally, MSW, LCSW, OSWc, Baco Raton, FL; Tina Roberts, LSW, Duluth, MN; and Dale Swan, Circle Pines, MN.                                                                                                                                           

“We are honored to recognize these extraordinary awardees for their dedication to improve the quality of care for cancer patients and their families,” said Susan D. Henry, LCSW, chair, Lane Adams Quality of Life Award Workgroup. “Their commitment and passion to our mission is extraordinary.”

Marguerite “Peggy” Belanger is an oncology nurse navigator at Southern Maine Health Care where she guides patients and their families throughout their cancer journey. Her caring, empathetic nature is recognized by patients and colleagues alike.  Belanger understands the importance of helping the patient and family process the impact of a cancer diagnosis on all levels. She has volunteered with the Society for more than 30 years, and is an 11-year volunteer with ACS CAN. Belanger’s dedication to easing the burdens of cancer have been recognized through two prestigious awards including the American Cancer Society’s 2015 Sandra C. Labaree Volunteer Values Award, and the 2015 Southern Maine Health Care Caregiver of the Year.  Peggy volunteers for a free medical clinic to help the underserved and uninsured patients in her community and she founded a choral group that performs for hospice patients.  She embodies warmth, compassion and care that is needed to help someone through their cancer journey.

Elsa Santiago Class is a registered nurse for the Puerto Rico Oncology Hospital. She has been a volunteer with the American Cancer Society since 1973. In 1976, she received a scholarship from the Society and attended the Roswell Park Memorial Institute in Buffalo, where she graduated becoming the first enterostomal therapist in Puerto Rico. She continued offering her services to ostomized patients within the rehabilitation program currently known as the Quality of Life program. With the help of a group of ostomized patients, she founded the Association of Ostomized of PR which provides education and support to patients. She has collaborated extensively with the Ostomized Association of Panamá, offering lectures both locally and abroad. In her 30 years as an enterostomal therapist, Class continues to stand out for her dynamism, love for her neighbor, and her desire and ability to help patients. Quality of life and dignity of the patient are always top of mind for her. She is highly respected by her colleagues, and considered to be a key player in wound management and ostomy care by the best colorectal surgeons in the island.

Peter Hopewood is an oncology surgeon and cancer liaison physician at Falmouth Hospital in Falmouth, MA. Dr. Hopewood is a highly-respected surgeon and active in the oncology program at Falmouth Hospital, constantly seeking ways to reach, engage and educate the cancer patient community. As a Commission on Cancer liaison physician he works with hospitals across Massachusetts to ensure a high level of patient care, analysis of oncology data and utilization of American Cancer Society programs.   Dr. Hopewood partners with the American Cancer Society on important initiatives such as 80% by 2018, cancer survivorship celebrations and creation of a cancer resource center at Falmouth Library.  While his leadership across the state has enhanced the standard of care for all patients he is also known for his strong patient advocacy and compassionate care to the patients in his clinic.  He goes above and beyond to educate his patients regarding their diagnosis and is known to personally organize testing and clinic schedules to insure that his patients receive timely information and care.  He treats the whole patient with consideration for their comfort, personal preferences and support system.  His patients attest to the fact that Dr. Hopewood genuinely cares about their quality of life.                   

Suzanne Lagarde, M.D. is CEO of Fair Haven Community Health Center (FHCHC) and works passionately to ensure that all patients have access to cancer prevention and early detection through colorectal cancer (CRC) screening. Dr. Lagarde is a founding member and immediate past president of Project Access-New Haven, a nonprofit organization which provides access to specialty care for the uninsured in greater New Haven, CT. Under her leadership, FHCHC was selected as one of three health centers in the country to receive a grant to increase CRC screening from the American Cancer Society and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT), a grant funded by Walgreens. Dr. Lagarde helps save lives by addressing the anxiety, fear, and barriers faced by those with the greatest health disparities. She works tirelessly at all levels to promote the expansion of CRC screening and navigation to uninsured individuals and is an advocate for access to quality care. Dr. Lagarde is a leader within the National Association of Community Health Centers and the NCCRT focusing on how health centers can play a pivotal role in preventing cancer and improving the quality of life for those patients who are diagnosed with CRC. In 2016, Dr. Lagarde was awarded the Sandra C. Labaree Volunteer Values Award, a volunteer honor by the New England Division of the American Cancer Society recognizing leadership in saving more lives from cancer.

Darci McNally, L.C.S.W. is a social worker and Director of Oncology Support Services and Community Outreach at the Lynn Cancer Institute and the Boca Raton Regional Hospital. During the past 17 years, she made a direct impact on hundreds of thousands of people. As the director of support services, McNally has built an empathetic, high performing, results-oriented team that focuses on the patients, their families and the community. She was instrumental in creating multimodality tumor specific clinics providing multidisciplinary care to patients. McNally is also an educator with multiple interns from local universities that can work under her learning about all aspects of cancer care for patients. Her greatest achievement was the creation of the League of Ribbons, which offers patients and families the extra services to help with costs such as gas cards, grocery gift cards and offsetting hospital valet parking. McNally’s vision and dedication helps provide holistic oncology care to in a community hospital setting.  

Tina Roberts, L.S.W. is a licensed oncology social worker at St. Luke’s Regional Cancer Center. For more than 16 years, the essence of Roberts’ humanity has carried over into her patients, families and colleagues so each day is a little brighter. She spends quality time with patients to understand their concerns, spiritual and social needs, and gets to know them on a deeper level. Roberts spends countless hours on the phone trying to connect patients with local resources to help ease their cancer journey.  The family members of patients also rely on her for comfort and support following the loss of their loved one.  They return to the hospital for grief support because of the trusting relationship they developed with Tina.  She is also involved with Relay For Life and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer not only recruiting survivors and colleagues to the St. Luke’s team, but also serving on the Strides planning committee and raising funds all year round.  Tina’s colleagues refer to her as a “shining light” and say that her “never-ending dedication is a calming presence for patients in uncharted waters.”

Dale Swan is a chaplain at Fairview Home Care and Hospice in Circle Pines, Minnesota.  For the past 24 years in his role as a spiritual care provider to cancer patients he has a demonstrated an outstanding commitment to patients that goes above and beyond the usual roles and responsibilities associated with his position.  Swan has a reputation for responding to quality of life issues at every level.   In 2002, Swan saw a need for greater collaboration among hospice chaplains and started the Metro Hospice Chaplain's Group, with the purpose of bringing together hospice spiritual care providers to share resources, support and education. Swan also created an education program for the community on topics such as spiritual care, grief and compassion fatigue.  Through his experiences with staff and volunteers in the hospice community he also realized that many people have the desire but not the tools to help patients and families at the end of life.  True to form he developed a program to teach end of life prayers and readings to anyone interested in learning how to better support patients and families.   This work has expanded to partners in healthcare such as assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. Swan is a mentor for young chaplains and is always searching for innovative ways to enhance the quality of life for cancer patients.  He is regarded by colleagues as a role model and true patient champion. 

The Society has recognized cancer caregivers through the Lane W. Adams Quality of Life Award since 1988.

To learn more about the American Cancer Society awards programs, visit cancer.org.