Looking back on 2021: Our top 10 blogs

The 2021 Tree of Hope ceremony at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Inside the halls of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, there are welcoming smiles and unbreakable spirits. We are reminded every day of the strength of our patients, their caregivers and supporters, and the abilities of our doctors and specialists to provide hope in even the darkest times.

To start 2021, we rolled up our sleeves to protect ourselves, our patients and our community during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re still wearing masks and doing our part to keep people safe, but we see the smiles in people’s eyes when the Victory Bell rings in our lobby.

Our doctors and researchers continue to work diligently to find new and innovative treatments to help fight cancer, knowing that we get closer to finding a cure every day. For the past 50 years, since the passage of the National Cancer Act, Roswell Park has been a world leader in this effort and we will continue to do so in the future. We’re also working to better reflect the community we serve and the world around us, redoubling our efforts to support and encourage a diverse workforce and celebrate the cultures found in Buffalo and Western New York.

And throughout the year, we’ve been honored to bring you news of the latest research, health tips for patients and caregivers alike, along with inspiring stories from patients and survivors. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as we’ve enjoyed writing them. Here’s a recap of some of our favorite blogs from the past year in case you’d like to read them again, or for the first time.

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1. "That's just his heart": Andre the Warrior plays kindness forward to other pediatric patients

November 23, 2021

Andre 'The Warrior' Sanders shows off his signature flex while modeling a pediatric gown he designed.

“It brings me joy because he feels joy when he gives back to others. That’s who he’s been since he was a toddler. Through his journey, so many people have been so gracious and given to our family. It’s not only Andre’s joy but it’s our joy to give back to others.”

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2. 45 years as a Roswell Park patient: Stacey's story 

November 17, 2021

Stacey Smith today

“Roswell Park helped heal me over the years, and for that I am so thankful. I am happy to share my story of healing with others. I now know that I have a purpose and there’s so much more here for me to do.”

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3. Finding better weapons against triple-negative breast cancer

October 6 2021

Woman holding her chest

“Based on what we’re building here, we want to expand the study to include other racial and ethnic groups, including Hispanic Americans, in future studies. We hope, maybe in a few years after this study has been established, that we can expand it.”

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4. Glioma vs glioblastoma: What's the difference? 

May 28, 2021

Illustration of tumor within a brain

The words glioma and glioblastoma may look alike, and even sound alike, but the truth is more complicated.

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5. Restoring appearance through the art and science of prosthetics

May 6, 2021

A facial prosthesis is being sculpted for a patient with head and neck cancer

Most prostheses have a titanium or acrylic base with a silicone surface that can be matched to the patient’s own skin color so it looks highly realistic and blends in perfectly with the surrounding natural skin. “We do everything, start to finish, in our lab,” says Dr. Frias. “It’s a lot of fun to do."

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6. "We're there to hold their hands." Nurse highlight: Jessie Roche

October 12, 2022

A group of four women, wearing surgical masks, stand in a hallway. The woman in the middle is holding flowers and a certificate for being named Nurse of the Month for October.

“I’ve always wanted to be a nurse, since middle school,” says Roche, who works on 5 East in the bone marrow transplant unit. “I have an aunt that works as a nurse. She was one of my inspirations to pursue nursing. I just always wanted to take care of people and make a difference in the world.”

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7. The coolest lifesaving technology at Roswell Park

June 2, 2021

Doctor uses virtual reality goggles and controller to visualize tumor in the operating room before surgery.

Thanks to rapid advancements in technology, today we’re able to look deeper into the human body, detect cancer earlier, treat areas that once were inaccessible and perform surgery less invasively.

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8. Annie's journey to the Ride for Roswell 

June 28, 2021

A black and white photo of a family of five on the front porch of a house, mother is holding daughter on her lap, one son is sitting on the sidewalk and the father has his arm around the other son's shoulder.

“Roswell Park is a place I never, ever wanted to step foot in, but it is also a place that as soon as I did, I was instantly filled with hope. It is the most incredible place to go when you have to go somewhere.”   

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9. Sequencing the human genome set the pace for identifying cancer before it starts

October 1, 2021

Dr. Carl Morrison with lab workers

“There is no doubt that in my lifetime, sequencing the human genome is the biggest thing that’s happened for cancer care. Nothing even compares to it.”

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10. Women in Science: Elisa Rodriguez, PhD, MS

November 10, 2021

Elisa Rodriguez, PhD, MS

As a child, Elisa Marie Rodriguez’ love of watching PBS documentaries helped lead her to an academic path in public health.

“I didn’t have examples of researchers around me or even medical doctors for that matter as a child,” she recalls. “But I loved to read and to watch documentaries on PBS. 'Reading Rainbow' was one of my favorite shows. I somehow became engrossed in a special on Johns Hopkins, and I vividly recall telling my mother after the show that I was going to go to school there someday.”

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Editor’s Note: Cancer patient outcomes and experiences may vary, even for those with the same type of cancer. An individual patient’s story should not be used as a prediction of how another patient will respond to treatment. Roswell Park is transparent about the survival rates of our patients as compared to national standards, and provides this information, when available, within the cancer type sections of this website.