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4/12/2024 6:43:57 PM Reporting from Detroit,MI
Grateful patient creates fund for colorectal cancer care
4/12/2024 6:43:57 PM
When Michael Serling was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, he was 65 years old and his granddaughter was just four.

Grateful patient creates fund for colorectal cancer care

When Michael Serling was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, he was 65 years old and his granddaughter was just four.
Corewell Health

Grateful patient creates fund for colorectal cancer care

Friday, April 12, 2024

When Michael Serling was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, he was 65 years old and his granddaughter was just four. At the time, he wasn’t sure how much of her life he would get to enjoy. “When you receive a cancer diagnosis, it’s so devastating,” he said. “The fear that sets in from treatment is overwhelming.”

At the time of diagnosis, Michael and his wife, Elaine Serling, had been supporters of Corewell Health (formerly Beaumont) for many years – a relationship that was strengthened by the compassionate care Michael received during his cancer treatment at the Royal Oak hospital. Elaine, herself a registered nurse, was impressed by and grateful for the care he received as well.

Under the watchful eye of the experienced oncology team, Michael’s cancer treatment included three surgeries and a full round of both radiation and chemotherapy. However, treatment for cancer wasn’t the only thing he received. Michael also gained a support system of people who provided the emotional and psychological care often needed to navigate the difficult journey. “Elaine and I are indebted to the doctors, nurses and staff at [Corewell Health] for helping us during those dark times,” Michael said.

His oncology team included nurse navigators led by Nurse Professional Development Specialist Shelli Bergeron, Oncologist Dr. Jeffrey Margolis, Radiation Oncologist Dr. John Roberts and Colorectal Surgeon Dr. Harry Wasvary, of whom Michael said, “He saved my life and that’s why I support his work.”

Michael and Elaine’s gratitude led to the creation of the Michael and Elaine Serling Fund for Colorectal Cancer, which they have supported for several years. The Serlings’ most recent gift to their fund officially made them million-dollar donors to Corewell Health.

Since their experience with colorectal cancer, they have remained passionate about the research and medical advances that facilitate the treatment and study of this cancer, and through their fund, they are able to pay forward all they gained from their experience.

“Michael and Elaine Serling have supported our efforts in all aspects of our multidisciplinary team approach to cancer care,” Dr. Wasvary said. “Our colleagues in oncology, pathology, radiology and surgery have all benefitted from the Serlings’ support through educational pursuits, community outreach, and impactful cancer care. Most importantly, our patients have benefited from the allowances our multidisciplinary team has been given to pursue best practice cancer care at the highest level.”

The advancements in colorectal cancer care over the past decade have led to improvements in preventing and treating all stages of cancer, Dr. Wasvary said. Some of those advancements include treating patients with radiation and chemotherapy upfront, and advancements in treating colorectal cancer patients who have advanced disease with targeted therapy.

Additionally, in those patients who do require surgery, the Royal Oak team has led the way in advancing the development of a minimally invasive approach to treating colon and rectal cancer.

Last year, the Serlings were honored for their dedicated support during an event recognizing the accreditation of the colorectal surgery program at the Royal Oak hospital from the National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer, or NAPRC. To achieve NAPRC accreditation, centers are required to establish a multidisciplinary rectal cancer team that includes clinical representatives from surgery, pathology, radiology, radiation oncology, and medical oncology. The Royal Oak hospital has had a multidisciplinary colon and rectal care team since 2008.

The Serlings played a pivotal role in the program’s accreditation through their fund, which provides the program with vital operational and research support.

“This accreditation requires strict adherence to nationally recognized best practice guidelines for cancer care, and, in turn, our program has increased our compliance and improved our outcomes with respect to cancer care,” Dr. Wasvary said. “To be recognized as an accredited rectal cancer program not only is a testament to the wonderful care that our clinicians are providing, but also is a reflection of the incredible support from our community, especially the Serlings. I am so grateful for their compassion and generosity.”

Dr. Wasvary said that efforts to achieve similar accreditation throughout the entire Corewell Health health system are now in the works, with Dr. Ken Bark and Dr. Ade Adeyemo leading these pursuits. He added that the Serlings’ support has allowed the Royal Oak hospital to be a wonderful example for the health system.

Today, Michael is a 13-year cancer survivor, and he recently celebrated his granddaughter’s 17th birthday. When speaking about how far he has come, there is an unmistakable joy in his voice for the life he continues to live. He also is passionate about trying to help others.

“If you have the means, you should try to make the world a better place,” he said. “There is always room to make things better. If you see something you believe in, like we believe in the importance of [Corewell Health] in our community, become a part of it. Support it and help make it better.”

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