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‘Positive and Caring’ Experiences led to Cancer Research Support

Beverly Guzy, EdD, had a unique experience at Rush while looking for a second opinion after she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Unlike at other health care institutions, Guzy felt like an active participant in her treatment with Melody Cobleigh, MD, The Brian Piccolo Professor of Cancer Research and director of medical oncology at Rush.

“Dr. Cobleigh presented a really comprehensive plan, which I hadn’t received elsewhere,” said Guzy, who has been a patient of The Coleman Foundation Comprehensive Breast Cancer Clinic at Rush since 2015. “Every person at Rush has been so positive and caring. I could ask questions and always get answers. I feel like what I’m experiencing matters to the staff here and that I’m a part of the team.”

Motivated by her own experience and a desire to help future breast cancer patients who will face similar challenges, Guzy decided to support promising breast cancer research at Rush. She met with Abde Abukhdeir, PhD, who is studying how genetic differences in breast cancer patients affect the outcomes of various therapies and other aspects of the disease. Ultimately, Abukhdeir, who collaborates with Cobleigh on research, aims to identify better and more specific cancer treatments that can save even more lives.

“I was just blown away when I learned about what they are studying at Rush,” Guzy said. “I wanted to get a lab coat and come work for Dr. Abukhdeir.” 

In addition to enriching current research through an outright gift, Guzy drew from her years working in education when she chose to include Rush in her will. She previously served as a director of professional development for a large high school district, where she organized programs that encouraged faculty to grow in their specific areas. Remembering the positive feedback she got from teachers about those programs, Guzy decided to provide similar resources at Rush.

Guzy’s bequest will fund a lecture series within the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Rush. The series will bring national and international guest lecturers to visit Rush and interact with faculty and students to provide further education, and foster innovative discussion and collaboration on topics related to breast cancer. Guzy hopes that this series will encourage and inspire researchers and clinicians, just as she helped to do for the teachers in her school district. The Dr. Beverly Guzy Distinguished Speaker Series is scheduled to begin in March 2018. The first session will feature the past president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology who is slated to speak on the type of cancer Guzy is facing.

“Rush has such outstanding doctors and staff throughout the organization that supporting both research and professional development can only encourage them further,” Guzy said. 

“With the positivity and dedication I have felt at Rush, even with the challenges I face, I really feel I am living a very good life.”