By Allison Miller, Hirshberg Foundation’s Patient Coordinator
Since our inception in 1997, The Hirshberg Foundation has been dedicated to providing information, resources and financial aid to patients and families. It is always a pleasure for us to stay in touch with the families and patients that we have supported. We enjoy having them as part of our ‘foundation family’ and love to see them at our local events.
We were fortunate to have met Ljubica Stankovic this past February as she joined over 20 other patient/survivors at our 10th Annual Symposium held at UCLA. Her surgeon, Dr. Anand Annamalai was also in attendance. In March 2013, Ljubica was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, had a Whipple procedure in April, and by June was starting 6 months of treatment. Her postoperative regimen consisted of 6 rounds of chemotherapy (Gemzar and 5FU), 6 weeks of radiation as well as a biweekly pancreatic cancer vaccine which was part of a phase III clinical trial. She completed her last treatment on Christmas Eve 2013, but still continues to receive monthly vaccine “boosters”.
Jelena Trifunovic, Ljubica’s daughter, contacted me for our Patient and Family Support Program while her mom was in the hospital. I helped provide Jelena with local resources for when her mom was discharged. Jelena and I have shared emails from time to time through this journey and she has been so wonderful at keeping us updated on how her mom is doing and participating in Hirshberg sponsored events. Jelena says, “We are very grateful for each day. Within our family, my mom has earned the nickname ‘Jaka Baka’, which in Serbian means ‘brave grandma.’ We have gained an incredible, invaluable network of friends through the Hirshberg Foundation and Cancer Support Community.”
Since completing her treatment, Ljubica has been focusing on her diet, trying out new healthy recipes and drinking plenty of tea. In addition to acknowledging the exceptional doctors that provide her with top-notch care, she adds, “Most importantly, Filip Trifunovic, my two-and-a-half year old grandson, is my natural healer!” Ljubica is looking forward to vacation, spending time with family and friends, and more grandkids! “It’s not easy…but every morning my motto is ‘Life is beautiful!’”
To find out more about the Patient and Family Services we offer, please contact me at (310) 473-5121.