Lineberger Center Addresses “Cancer And Older Adults”

Cancer rates tend to increase as people get older, and cancer poses special challenges for older patients as well as caregivers. In addition, while doctors once fought cancer much the same way in every patient, researchers now are discovering that every individual requires a unique treatment strategy.

With those concerns and more in mind, the UNC Lineberger Center is inviting residents, older adults, cancer patients, caregivers – and anyone else with interest – to a symposium on “Cancer and Older Adults” Thursday, November 19, from noon to 5 pm at the Friday Center.

It’s a free public forum, featuring some of the Lineberger Center’s leading doctors and researchers, with talks and workshops highlighting the latest research and offering tools and tips for caregivers and patients fighting cancer. UNC women’s basketball head coach Sylvia Hatchell – herself a cancer survivor – is scheduled to be among the speakers.

Dr. Trevor Jolly is a geriatric oncologist at the Lineberger Center and one of the forum’s featured speakers. He stopped by WCHL this week and discussed the event with Aaron Keck.


For more information on the forum, including a full agenda and a link to register, visit this link.

Gas Pipeline Woes Shut Down Therapeutic Riding Program

On five acres off Old NC 86, down a narrow dirt road on the western outskirts of Carrboro, horses munch hay in the shade. A small arena, paddock and barn are tucked away in the woods next to the house where Wendy Bryan and her husband live.

This is Duck Bridge Farm. For decades, Bryan has used the space to run a therapeutic riding program that gives adults and children with cancer a place to escape their worries.

But 14 months ago, that came to an abrupt end when the utility company PSNC added a natural gas pipeline and regulator station nearby.

“The first thing people ask is, ‘is that fracking?’ Some of the parents have said, ‘is that gas coming out of there?’ [They’re] very concerned about their not completely healthy children,” says Bryan. “And I say, ‘no, it’s actually just gas passing from the regulator station to the pipeline.’”

Last year, PSNC installed a natural gas pipeline running from Alamance to Orange County alongside a line first installed in 1952. To accommodate the second line, the company extended its easement on either side of the pipeline, cutting down trees to clear the way.

Photo via Wendy Bryan

Photo via Wendy Bryan

The pipeline runs down the edge of Bryan’s property. It took months for workmen to clear the trees and install the line.

“I assumed that would take a couple weeks to cut down so many trees, but it ended up taking six months,” recalls Bryan. “I tried to teach and ride when they told me they were not going to be doing anything noisy or disruptive, but it just didn’t pan out.”

Bryan says the tree-cutting spooked her horses. She had to close down the riding program after she was thrown from a horse and trampled.

“I did try to teach intermittently, but there was always a bad experience. I’m not going to put in danger anybody’s life and limb, literally.”

Work on the pipeline also cut off access to her barn for six months, leaving bales of hay to mould. With no income from the riding program, Bryan was forced to sell many of the horses she’d trained to work with cancer patients.

“We live in town and on small property, so we don’t have pastures of greenery for horses to graze on,” Bryan explains. “We have to provide all the hay. It’s very expensive for me to keep a horse- $500 a month per horse. So I sold six of my horses and my new John Deere tractor just to provide for the two remaining horses that we have here.”

Throughout all this, Bryan was confident classes could resume once the workmen were finished and the noise died down.

Then, she heard a new noise; a piercing, grating noise that went on and on.

View of the regulator from the arena. Photo via Wendy Bryan.

View of the regulator from the arena. Photo via Wendy Bryan.

A neighbor sold the land next to Bryan’s riding arena to PSNC to build a regulator station where the gas is compressed, then sent down the line. The sound intensifies when the demand for gas increases. Bryan says on cold days, the noise is deafening.

“The way I would describe it is a chainsaw sawing through metal,” says Bryan. “It’s a very loud sound, so loud we had to relocate our bedroom in our house because it kept us awake at night.”

Bryan says the noise makes it impossible to restart her riding program. While PSNC has installed some plastic sheeting around the regulator to dampen the sound, she says it’s not enough. She told WCHL her efforts to communicate with the company have proved frustrating.

“I’d love for them to respond to my questions that I’ve been presenting, and just have a better line of communication, so I know what to expect, how to plan,” says Bryan. “I would love to get going.”

Jodie Roberts-Smith is the public affairs coordinator at PSNC Energy. She says engineers are still assessing the situation at Duck Bridge Farm and investigating other noise abatement options.

“We have discussed and we are working with Ms. Bryan on a number of options that we hope would help everyone come to a mutual agreement on the matter,” Roberts-Smith told WCHL.

But it’s not clear when those improvements will be put into place.

“I haven’t been given a time frame because I’m not certain our company knows,” says Roberts-Smith.

In the meantime, Bryan’s clients are waiting.

“They call, all the time. ‘Are you ready? Can you start?’ I don’t really have a horse right now for them. If this ever gets resolved I am so anxious to get some nice safe horses like I had before,” says Bryan. “The tragedy in all this is I’ve lost three of my students. They’ve succumbed to cancer. And that broke my heart, because they all swore that that’s what kept them going.”

Former Tar Heels Helping Fight Childhood Cancer

Former Carolina baseball teammates are joining forces once again to fight childhood cancer.

Former Tar Heel Catcher Chase Jones tells WCHL’s Blake Hodge that the fight against childhood cancer is personal for him:


You can donate to help fight childhood cancer here.

Special Video Celebrates Kids & Their Families Coping With Cancer

CHAPEL HILL – Last year UNC student Molly Laux met a boy named Blake who had cancer. The two became friends through a volunteer program between the N.C. Children’s Hospital and the University.

After Blake passed away, Laux decided to follow-through on a special project the two had planned to work on together as a way to honor her friend and all children fighting cancer.

The finished product was the video, “The Wavin’ Flag Lip-Dub,” featuring the song, “Wavin’ Flag,” by musician K’naan.

The video documents a 2013 family retreat for patients coping with cancer, blood disorders, and bone marrow transplants.

It shows patients, their families and volunteers having fun during all kinds of activities and singing and dancing along to the song, which is about being courageous.

Laux one of those volunteers who went on that retreat. She works with the program, CPALS (Carolina Pediatric Attention, Love, and Support), a student organization that pairs about 91 Carolina students with children at UNC Hospitals who are undergoing treatment for cancer or serious blood disorders.

Through CPALS, Laux was matched with Blake in January of 2013. He was undergoing treatment for a rare form of cancer.

“He was in the hospital sometimes for 20 to 40 days at a time. I was trying to think of fun things he could do, and he loved music! I thought that together, maybe we could work on a project. I was thinking about these [lip dub] videos, and I thought this could be something we could do together,” Laux said.

A few years ago, Laux saw a video that Seattle Children’s Hospital had produced. She said it sparked the idea to create a similar video, but with a stamp of Tar Heel style.

Because Blake loved to sing, especially in duets with Laux, she said she knew it would be something he would enjoy.

“I told him that this is something that we could do together and it would be so fun. Unfortunately, he passed away in September. Shortly after his passing, I knew I wanted to stay involved in CPALS, and I was trying to think of something I could do that would make a difference. I went back to [the idea of] this video and knew that was something I wanted to do,” she said.

Pooling together the resources of Laux’s fellow CPAL peers, the group planned to document the family retreat. She said it was not just about taking part in a fun project. The greater message of the video was to capture the strength of the children and their families.

Laux said it was also a chance to remember Blake.

“The video is a way to honor him and his love of music and then to honor all of these children and their families. The big theme of this video is: ‘Together, we are brave.’ That is really the mantra at UNC Hospitals. When one person in a family is fighting cancer, really everybody is fighting cancer.”

Laux said she still keeps in touch with Blake’s family.

“I sent the video over to his mom, and I wanted her to be able to see it and kind of show her what I had done for him. She really enjoyed it, which I really loved,” Laux said.

Jessica Irven is the Pediatric Psychosocial Support Coordinator for the N.C. Children’s Hospital and also the Coordinator for CPALS.

Irven, who still gets chill bumps while watching the video, said it was a “show piece” for the family retreat and the larger support program offered to pediatric cancer patients and their families.

“It was a really great chance to go back and forth between getting our support needs out and having chat times and just letting loose,” Irven said. “We were just dancing and celebrating to the words of that fantastic song about being brave.”

**Listen to the Radio Version of this Story**

“Pink Heals” Holds Fundraiser At Tar Heel Town

CHAPEL HILL – Saturday, you can support the UNC Lineberger Center by donating to the “Pink Heals,” Help Give Cancer the Boot campaign.

The Chapel Hill Fire Department and Zeta Tau Alpha sorority will participate in a “boot” drive beginning at 12:30 p.m. in the Tar Heel Town. CHFD Public Information Officer Lisa Edwards says the funds from the event will go towards UNC Lineberger.

“The Pink Heals event is about supporting women in the community and their support systems,” she says. “Our funds that we raise will go to the Lineberger Family Life Center, (which) provides books for support, meditation, massages, (and) hairpieces.”

Recently, UNC women’s basketball head coach Sylvia Hatchell was diagnosed with leukemia.  Edwards says this year they will honor her by having pictures of Coach Hatchell on their boots.

“This particular year,” Edwards says, “not only do we have Help Give Cancer the Boot (as our slogan), but we also have a picture of Coach Hatchell, with her permission, to use on the boots as we walk around the stadium and solicit donations.”

Edwards says Hatchell has helped hold other fundraiser events for cancer awareness in the past.

“In the spring, we’ll do a donation drive at a women’s basketball game, and she’s always been very supportive,” she says.

During the boot drive in Tar Heel Town, there will be a law enforcement car from the Pink Heals Parade that people can sign in honor of the people affected by cancer. T-shirts and survival bracelet kits will also be available for purchase to support the cause. For more information you can click here.

Leukemia Is A Cancer Of The Blood

DURHAM – Professor of Medicine at the Duke Cancer Institute, Dr. David Rizzieri explains the blood cancer that you may have heard of but might not completely understand.

“Your blood has three types of cells: platelets that help the blood clot; red cells carry oxygen, and white cells fight infection,” Dr. Rizzieri says. “When a white blood cell starts growing out of control it causes a cancer. That can be either a lymphoma, myeloma, or leukemia depending on the specific cell and where it has started losing control.”

WCHL’s Ron Stutts spoke with Dr. Rizzieri on the WCHL Tuesday Morning News.

***Listen to the Interview***

He says since there are many different types of infections, there are many different types of white blood cells.

Dr. Rizzieri says those three cancers account for about 150,000 cancers each year and ten percent of new cancers each year.

He says leukemia is often not an easy disease to catch.

“Patients often present in a very nebulous way in very non-specific symptoms such as fatigue, not quite performing their normal daily activities as they are used to,” Dr. Rizzieri says. “There may be bruising, increased sleeping, things that would lead them to often see their general physician and initially be treated for an infection or something like that, and then it doesn’t get better

And, Dr. Rizzieri says the treatments vary depending on the specific types of Leukemia.

“Some are observed and are only treated when they make the patient feel poorly as our therapies can control the blood cells for many years,” Dr. Rizzieri says. “Others are aggressive, fast-growing leukemias, and our current therapies require intravenously-delivered chemotherapy which can have many side effects and take a while to recover from.”

Dr. Rizzieri was not speaking about any specifics of UNC women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell’s diagnosis of leukemia; Hatchell is being treated at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The type of leukemia Hatchell has is unknown, but it is said it was caught early.

On Hatchell: “I Think She Was Trying To Cheer Me Up”

CHAPEL HILL – Senior Associate Athletic Director for Communications Steve Kirschner says the roles were reversed when he spoke to UNC women’s basketball coach about her diagnosis just after he found out.

“It was amazing; I actually felt so good after speaking to her, because I think she was trying to cheer me up,” Kirschner says. “She was excited that her team had come to the hospital last night. She told her team yesterday afternoon; they were hanging out with her a little bit and taking some photographs with her. She was excited that one of the players who’s got a little bit of an injury is coming back from that injury today, so she was excited about that.”

***Listen to the Full Interview***

Kirschner is the sports information director for men’s basketball but has pitched in from time to time with the women’s program. He says Coach Hatchell’s already ahead of the game with the attitude she lives with every day.

“What you hear from families that go through this is it’s a battle, and your attitude says a lot,” Kirschner says. “She has a great attitude and she has great passion for what she does. She’s worked with the Lineberger Center for years and has really spent a lot of time in this area supporting the research and the work that goes on at the North Carolina Cancer Hospital, at the Lineberger Center.”

Tar Heel Voice: “You Know, Sylvia’s A Fighter”

CHAPEL HILL – The Voice of the Tar Heels, Jones Angell, was the play-by-play voice for UNC women’s basketball from 2004-2006. He’s says he’s seen much of the same reaction among the Carolina family with the news of Sylvia Hatchell’s diagnosis with leukemia.

“The number one thing that seems to be on people’s minds is obviously concern, but people then kind of get a little smile on their face and say, but you know, Sylvia’s a fighter,” Angell says. “There’s no doubt—even if you’ve just watched her on the sidelines, you know the level of intensity that she has there and the level of desire that she puts into just coaching basketball.”

***Listen to the Full Interview***

Angell says the striking thing about Hatchell—which many local people are well aware of—is her personality.

“She’s such a vibrant personality and such a nice person, too,” Angell says. “I think that’s the number one thing that jumps out to you about her is just how quality of a person she is and so family oriented.”

New OC Economic Development Specialist; Microchips For Pets; Cervical Cancer Screening

CHAPEL HILL – The Orange County Economic Development Department announced Ellen Tai will join the team as the new Economic Development Specialist.

Tai has previous work experience at the NC Department of Commerce where she managed the NC certified Sites Program.  She will be tasked to further economic development by communicating with stakeholders, assisting business retention, developing a County brand moniker, and maintaining information on commercial properties.

Director of Economic Development, Steve Brantley, believes that Tai “will be beneficial for Orange County.”  Tai starts on July 15 and says she’s looking forward to working with Orange County.


Orange County Animal Services will offer a Microchip Clinic for dogs and cats from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. next Thursday.  This clinic will take place at the Animal Services Center on Eubanks Road.

Along with Microchips for your pets, the clinic will offer one-year rabies vaccinations. Rabies vaccinations will cost $10 and include a tag with rabies certificate.  The microchip will cost $25 per pet and includes registration with 24PetWatch’s national database.

For more information you can click here.


Practice of annual cervical-cancer screenings may cause more harm than good. A UNC News release states that in 2009, accumulating scientific evidence led major guideline groups to agree that women should be screened less frequently: every three years rather than annually.

The practice of annual screenings remains popular as many doctors were concerned that patients might not come for annual check-ups unless they include a Pap-test.

The newest cervical-cancer and HPV screening recommendations say women should start at 21 and get screenings every three years and women between 30 and 65 can even wait five years between screenings.