Volunteer firefighters thrive on thank you’s

Upstate public safety officers and volunteer firefighters, Stephen Mauser, Jess Brown, William O'Connor and Dominick Albanese.

Upstate public safety officers who also serve as volunteer firefighters include Stephen Mauser, Jess Brown, William O’Connor and Dominick Albanese.

Several Upstate employees extend public service into their private lives, as volunteer firefighters. Meet seven public safety officers who do:

Dominick Albanese, 21

Moyers Corners Fire Department.

Experience: almost 2 years

Roles: interior firefighter. “My duty is to respond to the fire house and provide service to every call, no matter the nature, that we are dispatched for.”

Time investment: “I do about three calls a day, so it turns out I provide about 30 hours a week.”

Aspiration: “I want to become a police officer. Providing service to my community and being the ‘help’ that people call for is/was my dream.”

Reward: “I love helping people. Seeing the smiles on their faces after providing the service needed is great. Other than that, I love the adrenaline rush when entering a burning building.”


Troy Barrett, 21

Moyers Corners Fire Department

Experience: 5 years

Time investment: about 20 hours per week

Aspiration: Make a career of firefighting.

Reason: family tradition


Jess Brown, 49

Minoa Fire Department

Experience: 25 years

Roles: firefighter, first responder

Best part: “Being there to help.”


Evan Buschbascher, 28

Liverpool Fire Department

Experience: three years

Roles: interior firefighter, first aid

Reason: I am all about the community. I love helping out the people of the Town of Salina. It is something different every time the bell rings.

Time investment: 15 to 20 hours per week

Reward: Nothing is better than when you are at someone’s house to assist them, and they say ‘thank you for coming.’


Stephen L Mauser, 58

Moyers Corners Fire Department

Experience: 40 years

Roles: fire captain, dive team, under water recovery team, driver, fire police lieutenant, paramedic

Inspiration: “My father was a volunteer with MCFD in the 1960’s. At the age of 18, I witnessed MCFD operate during a serious fatal car accident. The way they all worked as a team and used all of their power tools was just amazing. I knew then I wanted to be a part of this fire department helping the public.”

Time investment: “It’s hard to say. We drill weekly, along with specialty drills or classes on any given day, plus we get called out any time 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Memory: “I delivered a baby solo one time, and it was one of the greatest days of my life to be a part of actually help bringing life into the world.”


William O’Connor, 22

Marcellus Fire Department

Experience: 8 years, including junior firefighting

Roles: firefighter, fire prevention education, emergency medical technician

How he began: “My family has a history of becoming both career and volunteer firefighters, so I guess you could say it is in my blood. My parents always taught me to help others when in need and give back as much as possible.”

Best part: “Not only do I have the opportunity to help my community, but my fellow firefighters are like a family. We are always there for each other, whether someone is moving or needs help fixing their house. Cooking dinner around the fire house and sitting at the table is just like sitting at home–except for maybe some jokes that mom probably would not be fond of.”


Richard Powell, 39

Camillus Fire Department

Experience: “I have been a volunteer here for about 1 ½ years, but I volunteered with a fire department in North Carolina outside of Charlotte for about 10 years.”

Position: scene support, emergency medical technician

Time investment: about 20 hours per week.

Why: “I got into the fire/emergency medical services back in 1994, but really got involved in 1999 after my mother passed away of a massive heart attack at the age of 50.”

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Cancer Center dominates coverage in Physicians Practice

PhysPract914The September issue of Physicians Practice magazine showcases the new Upstate Cancer Center. This is a publication that is distributed to doctors’ offices throughout Syracuse and the Central New York region.

Starting with the headline “Upstate strengthens cancer care options with new cancer center,” the article goes on to outline many of the services available in the building, which connects to Upstate University Hospital in downtown Syracuse.

Download the September issue of Physicians Practice




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‘Clear thinking requires courage’ said the late Dr. Szasz

This illustration — showing Dr. Szasz paddling a over stormy seas, sums up his effect of the world of psychiatry.

This illustration showing Dr. Szasz navigating an analyst’s couch through stormy seas sums up his role in  the world of psychiatry.


Professor Thomas Szasz MD, circa 1959

Professor Thomas Szasz MD, circa 1959

Legendary psychiatrist Thomas Szasz MD (1920-2012) was a professor at Upstate when the hospitals were built 50 years ago. Around that time (1961), Szasz’s “Myth of Mental Illness,” was first published. Considered to be the most influential critique of psychiatry ever written, the book was republished on its 50th anniversary in 2011.

On Friday, August 8, Upstate’s psychiatry faculty are hosting a free, day-long celebration of his life and work at the Everson Museum in Syracuse. The event includes talks by seven Upstate experts, including forensic psychiatrist James Knoll MD.

Known as “always lucid, witty and provocative,” Szasz said many things that are eminently quotable, such as, “Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence.”

His best known statement  — “If you talk to God, you are praying; if God talks to you, you have schizophrenia” — even made it into popular culture, with slight modification.  TV’s cantankerous Dr.  House said, “If you talk to God, you’re religious. If God talks to you, you’re psychotic.”

Dr. Szasz on the cover of Upstate's medical alumni journal, summer 2001. Portrait by Jerome Witkin.

Dr. Szasz on the cover of Upstate’s Medical Alumni Journal, summer 2001. Portrait by Jerome Witkin.

Szasz was a professor of psychiatry at Upstate from 1956 to 1990, and was awarded an honorary doctorate in science in 2001. He wrote 35 books and over 400 articles and gave hundreds of presentations. Dr. Szasz lived in Manlius, NY at the time of his death in 2012.

To register for a celebration of the life and work of Thomas Szasz MD, contact Linette Thorp at thorpl@upstate.edu or 315-464-3104.

Dr. Szasz with President Gregory Eastwood MD, at Upstate’s commencement, 2001.

Dr. Szasz with President Gregory Eastwood MD at Upstate Medical University’s commencement, 2001.

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How to help your loved one consume enough calories

ParfaitCancer and its treatments can reduce a person’s appetite, putting them in danger of losing too much weight.

Registered dietitian Maria Erdman says spreading “meals” into smaller servings of food throughout the day can help. So can eating slowly and chewing thoroughly, and limiting the amount of liquids during meals.

She coaches patients to understand that their job is to eat well.

And she lets loved ones know that job is not easy. Encouragement should be gentle.

With that in mind, add calories by adding:

  • Dry milk powder to whole milk, smoothies, casseroles, pasta sauce, mashed potatoes, egg and tuna salads, soups, cereals and homemade baked goods. This adds 16 calories per tablespoon. (*Not recommended for children younger than 2 unless under the supervision of physician or registered dietitian.)
  • Heavy cream to cereals, hot chocolate, puddings, smoothies, soups, sauces and casseroles. This adds 60 calories per tablespoon.
  • Granola to yogurt, ice cream, applesauce, oatmeal, pudding and cookie dough when baking cookies. This adds about 110 calories per ounce, depending on the brand.
  • Wheat germ to baked goods, cereal, casseroles, pancake mixes or milkshakes, or as a topping on ice cream, yogurt or fruit. This adds 25 calories per tablespoon.
  • Cheese to breads, vegetables, pastas, potatoes, eggs, sandwiches, salads or soups. This adds 100 calories per ounce.iStock_000008374427Medium
  • Cream cheese to celery, toast, sandwiches and dips. This adds 50 calories per tablespoon.
  • Olive, vegetable, canola or peanut oil to soups, sauces, casseroles, vegetables and gravies. This adds from 110 to 120 calories per tablespoon.
  • Hummus or mashed bean spread to sandwiches or as a dip for vegetables. This adds 17 calories per tablespoon.
  • Peanut butter to milkshakes, oatmeal and ice cream, or spread onto crackers, fruit or vegetables. This adds 100 calories per tablespoon.

Erdman cautions that somebody who is losing weight rapidly needs to contact his or her healthcare provider.

Other key points:

Protein – Greek yogurts, peanut butter, eggs, any kind of nuts are good options to help maintain muscle mass.

Nutrition density – Choose foods that contain nutrition over foods that don’t. Instead of consuming 200 calories of a donut, eat that many calories in guacamole, and you will fuel your body with more fiber than sugar, healthy fats in lieu of unhealthy fats, and less cholesterol.

Hear an interview about nutritional issues during cancer treatment

Read Upstate’s Cancer Care magazine



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She’s so Syracuse, she remembers Renwick Place

Traci Hinton, in costume for a show at Syracuse's Huntington Family Center. Circa 1960

Former Renwick Place resident Traci Hinton, in costume and ready to perform. Circa 1960.

The 50th anniversary of the opening of the Upstate hospitals and the “I’m so Syracuse” memory project inspire the question, “What was Upstate’s downtown location like before the hospital was built?”

Answers can be found in a 1960 “SUNY Upstate Development Plan” report and from New York City dance educator Traci Hinton Peterson, who lived in a three-family home where an Upstate parking garage now stands. (Today, the Upstate garages at Harrison and East Adams streets serve the nearly 90,000 patients who are treated at the downtown hospital and downtown emergency department each year.)

The development plan report, authored by then-president Carlyle Jacobsen, PhD for the Near East Side Urban Renewal Project, identified the L-shaped property where the downtown hospital, campus activities building, Clark and Jacobsen towers, Center for Bioethics and Humanities, two parking garages, and The Wallie Howard Jr. Center for Forensic Sciences are now located. (See maps below.) In 1960, Upstate owned just a portion of the property outlined in the report, including the basic sciences building (now Weiskotten Hall), the state psychiatric hospital (now the site of the Golisano Children’s Hospital) and City Hospital (now Silverman Hall).

In 1960, much of the rest of the soon-to-be repurposed property was residential, and Hinton Peterson remembers her childhood there:

“I lived on Renwick Place, a tiny street that ran between Harrison and East Adams streets,” she says. “Women in the neighborhood, like my mother (Muriel Hinton), worked as beauticians, maids, landladies or homemakers. My dad (James Hinton Sr.) worked at Oberdorfer Foundry. He got up at 4 or 5 a.m. every day.

“I don’t remember the hospital being built,” explains Hinton Peterson, “but I remember the day Dad said, ‘We’ve got to move.’

“We moved east; first to an apartment on South Beech Street, then to a house on Genesee Park Drive. My grandmother moved south, to the corner of South State and Elk streets, which was beautiful at the time.”

How does Hinton Peterson’s career as a dance educator trace back to her roots in downtown Syracuse?

“I was 4 years old, at my Aunt Ethel’s apartment in Pioneer Homes. I was sitting quietly in my party dress and eating birthday cake, enthralled by the teenagers and grownups dancing in a circle, doing the Twist.

“I’m going to be a dancer when I grow up,” she remembers telling her mother. A year later, in kindergarten, Hinton Peterson added teaching to her career goals.

Today, Hinton Peterson teaches at the Philipp Schyler Middle School for the Gifted and Talented in Brooklyn and at the Arnhold Graduate Dance Education at Hunter College.

Today, Hinton Peterson teaches at the Philippa Schuyler Middle School for the Gifted and Talented in Brooklyn, mentors at the Arnhold Graduate Dance Education program at Hunter College, and heads Camara Dance Unlimited.

Opportunities to pursue her goals came from a variety of Syracuse schools and cultural institutions: As a child, there were shows at the Huntington Family Centers, 50-cent dance lessons at Washington-Irving Elementary School and a scholarship to the Lorraine School of Dance. As an adult, Hinton Peterson worked with the Paul Robeson Performing Arts Company, Salt City Playhouse and the Cultural Resources Council (now CNY Arts) before moving to New York City in 1996.

What else does Hinton Peterson remember about her old neighborhood in Syracuse, now replaced by the region’s largest employer and only level-one trauma center and academic medical center?

“I could play outside, and my mother didn’t worry about me. All the women sat on their front porches in the evening and talked. Every child on that block knew the expectations: ‘You go to school to get a good education, you go to church, and you do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.’”

The “I’m so Syracuse” memory project inspires nostalgia, and it helps us draw strength from our shared history, appreciate the accomplishments of today, and look forward to new opportunities.

The Upstate hospitals’ 50th anniversary reminds us that new doors are opening on that same L-shaped block that was outlined in the 1960 report: the $74 million, 90,000 square foot Upstate Cancer Center, dedicated to providing expert care to all ages.

1960 and 2014 maps of Upstate's downtown property. Hinton Peterson's childhood home was on Renwick Place, shown on the 1960 map.

1960 and 2014 maps showing the same section of Upstate’s downtown property. The map on the left, from the 1960 “SUNY Upstate Development Plan,” shows Renwick Place, the site of Hinton Peterson’s childhood home.



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Clinical trial spotlight: lung cancer

Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to kill tumor cells. Drugs used in chemotherapy work in different ways to stop the growth of tumor cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Which radiation therapy regimen is more effective when given together with chemotherapy to treat patients with limited-stage small cell lung cancer?



Jeffrey Bogart, MD, professor and chair of radiation oncology, is trying to answer that question. He is the national study chair of a clinical trial sponsored by the National Cancer Institute that compares survival times between two different chest radiation therapy regimens.

About 15 percent of lung cancers are small cell lung cancers. At the time of diagnosis, about a third of people with small cell lung cancer are classified as limited stage because the tumors have not spread beyond their lungs.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy may both be effective in treating small cell lung cancer. The National Cancer Institute reports that combination therapy — such as being offered in this study — has been shown to improve long-term survival in some patients.

Learn about this and other clinical trials taking place at Upstate at www.upstate.edu/hospital/clinical_trials/ Click on “active clinical trials” in the left column. Choose the “cancer” category and then press “search.”



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Raising spirits, awareness and money for cancer

This year’s National Cancer Survivors Day celebration drew 460 cancer survivors and their guests to a lunch buffet, music and door prizes. The event, sponsored by Upstate, featured a safari theme.

This year’s National Cancer Survivors Day celebration drew 460 cancer survivors and their guests to a lunch buffet, music and door prizes. The event, sponsored by Upstate, featured a safari theme. Photo by Zanette Howe.

The Central New York community made the Upstate Cancer Center possible, with many donations coming directly from grateful patients and family members. The Foundation for Upstate Medical University was the hub for the philanthropy which drew the support of thousands of people. The four-year fundraising effort brought in $17.4 million for the center.

Toni Gary, a development director at the foundation, says more than 325 individual children and school groups made donations. Student and community groups sponsored efforts that included a fishing fundraiser that brought in $450 in May and a basketball fundraiser in April that brought in $4,200. The Phoenix High School Lady Firebirds varsity pitcher, Megan Brown, raised $2,000 over 20 games by securing pledges for strikeouts. A Liverpool Middle School teachers’ basketball game held in March raised $1,600. A wrestling tournament in January at Skaneateles High School raised $1,300.

A $32,000 gift from the Alive! Foundation will help support the new therapeutic music program in the Upstate Cancer Center. The money was raised through the foundation’s Ride for Alive!, an annual cycling event that takes place in July in Skaneateles.

“We are committed to helping cancer survivors live well,” says Julia Wamp, co-founder of Alive! Foundation. Wamp, a cancer survivor, and her husband Michael established the foundation in 2012 to educate and empower survivors to live healthier, happier lives.

A Fulton teacher, Danielle Delfanian has raised more than $5,000 since 2011 by making duct tape rose pens, wallets, hair clips and bracelets through her organization, Roses for Breast Cancer.

Paige’s Butterfly Run attracted more than 2,500 participants this June for its 5K race, 3K fun run/walk and Caterpillar Crawl for kids in downtown Syracuse. The event has raised more than $2 million over the past 18 years to benefit pediatric research and cancer care. The money is also used to provide patients and families with “comfort kits,” gift cards for food and gas to those traveling far and other amenities to help meet the needs of a life that has suddenly been turned upside down.

The kickball tournament took place in May. Photo by Doug Rosenthal.

The kickball tournament took place in May. Photo by Doug Rosenthal.

More than 175 players on 17 teams played in the Kick Cancer Kickball Tournament in May. They raised more than $2,400 this year, bringing the three-year total amount of money they have donated to the Upstate Cancer Center to more than $6,000. Doug Rosenthal, who works in Information Management & Technology at Upstate, helps to organize the event, which takes place at the Syracuse Kickball Park in Liverpool.

Upstate had a presence at breast cancer walks and runs, including the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer; the Carol M. Baldwain Breast Cancer Research Fund’s A Run for Their Life; and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. A new grant from Komen will help underserved women secure their mammograms.

The 12th annual Father Daughter Valentine Ball, held this year at the Empire Room of the New York State fairgrounds, raised $30,832 to benefit pediatric cancer services at Upstate.

Upstate students and employees snacking at Deb’s Grill collected $1,185.25 in spare change to benefit the cancer center.

Learn about the Foundation for Upstate by calling 315-464-4416

Read Upstate’s Cancer Care magazine



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Dentist explains how to prevent dry mouth after radiation for cancer treatment

SmithPatrick6Tooth decay can be a side effect of radiation for cancer treatment, because of a condition called dry mouth.

Dentist Patrick Smith, assistant professor of surgery and residency program director of the dental services and clinic at Upstate, explains.

What is going on?

“Radiation of the head and neck, in particular, and some chemotherapy drugs can lead to xerostomia, or dry mouth, which is any condition in which the patient notes that their mouth is less moist than it used to be. They are just not producing saliva like they once did.

“Why is that bad? Because any plaque or calculus (hardened plaque also called tartar) that exists on the teeth will only accelerate potential decay. In addition to helping wash away food particles, saliva actually helps with digestion and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria. So when saliva is reduced, it can lead to problems.”

How can decay be prevented?

“Fluoride treatments, routine brushing, and accelerated dental checkups — maybe every fourth months instead of every six.”

Can dry mouth be treated?

“There are medications that can be prescribed for severe cases, to stimulate saliva production, and you might want to try a prescription or over-the-counter rinse or moisturizer.

“It may also help to sip water or suck ice chips throughout the day. And, avoid products – including caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and sugary foods – which make the situation worse.”

Does dry mouth go away once the cancer is gone?

“Radiation really dries out the salivary glands, and that’s a long-term process. It is not something that you are going to recover from quickly. In fact, some patients never recover, which is why dentists need to see patients with new cancer diagnoses early.

“When someone is diagnosed with cancer, it’s very important that they visit their dentist before they start treatment to determine if they have any particular areas of concern. Do they have a potential for abscess development? Do they have decay in their teeth?

“If you don’t have a dentist, ask your oncology team for a referral. Here at Upstate we have the dental service, and we work closely with our oncology associates.”

Symptoms of dry mouth

  • dryness in mouth, throat
  • saliva that seems thick or stringy
  • bad breath
  • difficulty chewing, speaking, swallowing
  • altered sense of taste
  • burning sensation in the mouth
  • problems wearing dentures
  • more frequent tooth decay
  • gum irritation, gum disease
  • mouth sores or cracked lips
  • dry, rough tongue

Sources: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, Mayo Clinic

Read Upstate’s Cancer Care magazine

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Revitalizing through reading as you recover from illness, injury

Book suggestions from Mary Laverty, a librarian in the Family Resource Center of the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Sometimes you need a story that makes you laugh


“Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons,” (2013) by James Dean and Eric Litwin. Pete the Cat is wearing his favorite shirt, the one with the four totally groovy buttons. When one falls off, does Pete cry? Goodness no! He just keeps on singing his song.


“Fortunately the Milk,” (2013) by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Skottie Young. A little boy and his little sister awake one morning, milkless. Their mother is away on business, their father is buried in the paper, and their Toastios are dry. When father goes for milk, something goes wrong, and he doesn’t return. When he does, finally, he has a story to tell. There is time travel, treachery, adventure, and, fortunately, the milk he procured is rescued at every turn.


“Kids These Days,” (2014) by Drew Perry. The author paints a landscape of weird and beautiful Florida and its inhabitants, all original, hilarious, and utterly believable. At the center of the story is a portrait of a father-to-be who is paralyzed by the idea of taking responsibility for another human life when he can’t seem to manage his own.

Sometimes you need a story that lets you cry


“A Ball for Daisy,” (2011) by Chris Raschka. A wordless story about love and loss. Any child who has ever had a beloved toy break will relate to Daisy’s anguish when her favorite ball is destroyed by another dog.


“Kepler’s Dream,” (2013) by Juliet Bell. A young girl makes her fractured family whole again with the help of a very special book. When eleven-year-old Ella’s mother has to be hospitalized to undergo cancer treatment, Ella spends the summer at “Broken Family Camp” with her grandmother, whom she’s never met. The situation is hardly ideal for either of them. Ella is afraid her mother may die, but her grandmother seems to care more about her library full of books than she does about her very own daughter. Then a rare and beloved book, “Kepler’s Dream of the Moon,” is stolen from her grandmother’s library. A dynamic story of family and forgiveness.


“The Book Thief,” (2007) by Markus Zusak. This remarkable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul. The setting is 1939 Nazi Germany. Liesel Meminger is a foster child living outside of Munich who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist: books.

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Battling cancer and saving kids at the Waters Center

Pediatric oncologist William Waters MD (left, with bowtie) with colleagues. ND. Ten years ago, Upstate’s Center for Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders was named in his honor.

William Waters MD (upper left, with bow tie) and colleagues, circa 1964. Ten years ago, Upstate’s Center for Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders was named in his memory.

Richard Sills MD was a high school student in 1964, the year that Upstate’s hospitals opened. At that time, he laments, “almost nobody survived childhood cancer.”

The medical specialty of pediatric hematology-oncology was new in those days and William Waters MD, a 1942 graduate of the College of Medicine, was one of the first practitioners in the Syracuse area. Sadly, he died in 1966, at age 47.

Frank Oski MD, chairman of pediatrics, 1972 to 1985

Frank Oski MD, chairman of pediatrics, 1972 to 1985

Ten years later, Sills began a fellowship in pediatric hematology-oncology at Upstate, working under the direction of then-chairman Frank Oski MD, another pioneer in the field. Sills describes Oski as “an incredible teacher and role model for everyone who trained under him.”

In 2007, Sills returned to Upstate to direct the William Waters Center for Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders. The center serves a 21-county region and, last year, treated 454 children with cancer and blood disorders and had 617 patients enrolled in the survivor wellness program.

Thankfully, 70 percent of children with cancer today will survive their disease.

What has changed in the last 50 years to improve the survival rates so dramatically?

According to Sills, it’s the result of multiple improvements in medical care — the use of more effective, more intensive chemotherapy regiments as well as tremendous improvements in general medical care. Sometimes Sills and his staff use doses of chemotherapy five times greater than would have been used in the 1960s.

Richard Sills MD, chief of pediatric hematology-oncology

Richard Sills MD, chief of pediatric hematology-oncology

“A cancer diagnosis is completely different than what people think,” explains Sills. “Today, it’s an astounding success story.”

“Over the last 25 years, we’ve taken away much of the pain of procedures and reduced the nausea from chemo-therapy,” he continues. “Kids are not afraid to come to the hospital.”

The Waters Center is housed in both the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and in the new Upstate Cancer Center. How do these facilities affect care?

“It’s much more patient- and family-friendly today. The environment is warm and happy for children, comfortable for families.”

The children’s hospital has individual patient rooms with sleeper chairs for family members, a family resource center, a classroom and play rooms. The new cancer center is nature-themed and has a playroom and specially designed areas for infants, children and teenagers.

“When I was first practicing, kids screamed when they had to go to the hospital,” says Sills. “Now, they cry when they have to leave because they’re  having fun and don’t want to go home.”

Zach Ellingson on the cover of the new Cancer Care magazine.

Zach Ellingson on the cover of the new Cancer Care magazine.

To “meet” one of the patients of Upstate’s Waters Center, read Cancer Care magazine’s story on  Zach, who was diagnosed with cancer four years ago, at age 8.


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