Space Coast Cancer Foundation Hosts 5th Annual Survivorship Summit

By  //  September 8, 2012

Surviving Cancer

ABOVE VIDEO: The Space Coast Cancer Foundation’ s 6th Annual Daffodil Gala to benefit Brevard County cancer patients in need of financial support was a tremendous success last month.

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BREVARD COUNTY • VIERA, FLORIDA – The Space Coast Cancer Foundation today successfully hosted a Patient-Centered Leukemia/Lymphoma Symposium & 5th Annual Survivorship Summit at the Heritage Isle Clubhouse in Viera.

Being diagnosed with cancer is never something anyone seeks. It tests the foundation of individual dignity and courage in ways seldom imagined.

In facing the challenges of cancer with a positive attitude and a will to survive, many have found the experience brings them more in touch with life and reaches the very fabric of their existence.

Making new friends and triumphs over cancer

Today, a group of those who have overcome the insidious disease, gathered in Viera to share their stories, make new friends and learn from leading physicians and researchers about advances in the treatment and prevention of cancer.

The 5th annual Survivorship Summit for Cancer Survivors was sponsored by the Space Coast Cancer Center and drew many people who have triumphed over various forms of cancer.

“The annual event continues to grow because cancer survivors find hope and encouragement in gatherings like these”, said Dr. Richard Levine, Space Coast Cancer Center director.

Dr. Richard Levine (image for Space Coast Daily)

“We believe that helping patients understand their medical condition, benefits of treatment, as well as short-term and long-term side effects, will assist them and their caregivers,” Levine said.

“Our goal is to allay anxiety with information and access to knowledgeable healthcare specialists.”

He said medical literature suggests that patients who are engaged in their healthcare are more compliant with receiving their treatment on schedule, have an improved cure rate, as well as fewer symptoms and an overall enhancement of the quality of life.

“Additionally, participants in the summit can share their own experiences and support each other,” Levine said.

Summit began in 2008

“The Survivorship Summit of Space Coast Cancer Center began as an initiative by the physicians when we opened our cancer center in Titusville in 2008,” Levine said.

“We are very appreciative of the support we receive from the community as well as the expertise provided by the expert speakers.

We look forward to continuing our annual event with the goal of continuing to help our community.”

Shannon Simmons

Shannon Simmons , Space Coast Cancer Center Program Coordinator, said events like the cancer survivor summit demonstrate a bond between patients and medical professionals in understanding cancer and finding solutions to eradicate it from everyday life.

“This is an annual event that is very important to the physicians and staff of Space Coast Cancer Center and a great resource for the community,” Simmons said. “The event gives each attendee an opportunity to listen to the leaders in cancer treatment, research and recovery, as well as a chance to ask questions personal to their well-being.”

Expert talks from leaders in the fight against cancer  

During the event, survivors and guests listened to different informative talks given by several expert physicians.  Guests also participated in a question and answer session with some of the most high qualified cancer physicians and specialists in the region.

Guests on hand also had an opportunity to receive a relaxing chair massage and a delicious breakfast and lunch sponsored by several friends of the Space Coast Cancer Center Foundation.

Dr. Bijal Shah (Image for Space Coast Daily)

Keynote speaker from Moffitt Cancer Center

The Keynote Speaker was Dr. Bijal-Shah of the Moffitt Cancer Center who spoke of Mantle Cell Lymphoma.

Dr. Shah is Board Certified in Hematology, Pediatrics and Medical Oncology.

He has a Fellowship at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Hematology & Oncology, attended medical school at the University Of South Florida and served his residency at Duke University.

Dr. Shah and Dr. Perez at the 5th Annual Survivorship Summit (Image for Space Coast Daily)

Jorge Perez De Armas, MD spoke to the guests about Myeloma.

Dr. Perez graduated from the University Central del Caribe, a United States accredited school in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

The U.S. Army National Guard veteran completed his residency in internal medicine at Lehigh Valley Hospital.

Dr. Perez completed his advanced training in Hematology and Oncology at Penn State Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, is board certified in Hematology, Medical Oncology and Internal Medicine.

R. Duff Sprawls, MD spoke about Lymphoma and entertained the guests with his terrific sense of humor and the delivery of his informative talk.

Dr. R. Duff Sprawls (Image for Space Coast Daily)

Dr. Sprawls also gave some very helpful on-line sources of information for the guests like the, and the People Living with Cancer organization.

Dr. Sprawls graduated from the University of Louisville School of Medicine.

He completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of South Florida, and completed his Medical Oncology Fellowship at the University of South Florida, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. Dr. Sprawls is board certified in Medical Oncology.

He is a member of the American College of Physicians, the Brevard County Medical Society, the Florida Medical Association, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Society of Internal Medicine.

Maria Avenancio, MSW of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (Image for Space Coast Daily)

Maria Avenancio, MSW, the Patient Services Manager for Northern & Central Florida Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society spoke of how her society helps people who are fighting blood cancers.

Firas R. Muwalla, MD spoke about Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia and how treatment has evolved over the last century.

Dr. Muwalla graduated from the University of Jordan Medical School in Amman, Jordan.

He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Arkansas.

He was an Assistant Professor of Medicine, Director of Inpatient Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, where he participated in clinical research trials and co-authored multiple publications in reputable medical journals.

He completed his Hematology/Oncology fellowship at the University of Florida Shands Medical Center in Gainesville, Florida.

Dr. Muwalla is Board Certified in Hematology, Medical Oncology and Internal Medicine.

Dr. Firas R. Muwalla (Image for Space Coast Daily)

He is a member of the American Society of Hematology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Brevard County Medical Society and the Florida Medical Association.

Reverend Dr. Jon Arnold of Health First spoke plainly and passionately about Spirituality and its relation to Health.

The Joint Commission on Accreditation to Healthcare Organizations requires all hospitals to meet the spiritual needs of their patients.

Some hospitals use volunteer chaplains, while others, including all hospitals in Brevard County, have full-time chaplains on staff.

When the going gets tough, they are the go-to guys. They guide folks through all of life’s “A-List” events, from births to weddings to deaths. They help through indescribable grief – as well as amazing joy.

In the current world of intense healthcare competition, pastoral care remains one of the few areas in which all hospital systems cooperate without reservation.

Chaplains arrive at the job from very different backgrounds.

Reverend Jon Arnold (Image for Space Coast Daily)

Chaplain Jon Arnold, the chaplain at Cape Canaveral Hospital, leads pastoral care at the new Viera Hospital and across the Health First system.

A member of the Association of Professional Chaplains, Arnold is a Church of God ordained minister who has gone through the extensive requirements of this gold-standard group.

Arnold also told the audience of  some helpful books for the guests to use as reference points:

The Healing Power of Faith by Harold Koenig M.D

Peace In the Storm by Maureen Pratt

I am Not Ready To Die Just Yet by The Reverend Anne C. Brewer

From the  survivorship alumni in the audience, Dawn Faust, spoke passionately about her journey and referenced her website entitled

Dr. Richard Levine and Linda Bradley each donated $1,000 to assist with the Space Coast Cancer Foundation Survivorship Summit.

The Northern & Central Florida Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society also donated $1000 to help with the expenses. (Image for

The event was open to the public free of charge, and donations were accepted for the Space Coast Cancer Foundation.

For more information about the Survivorship Summit call 321.264.5504.


Space Coast Cancer Foundation was established in May 2006 with a mission to assist cancer patients and their caregivers in our community with the financial and emotional demands that are associated with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Space Coast Cancer Foundation was established in May 2006 with a mission to assist cancer patients and their caregivers in our community with the financial and emotional demands that are associated with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

“We provide patient transportation, direct financial assistance to help pay for pain medication, anti-nausea medication, and other support needs (wigs, scarves, hats) of cancer patients,” said Dr. Richard Levine.

“We collaborate with Walgreen’s Pharmacy for prescriptions that are filled locally. We also assist patients without insurance by contacting pharmaceutical companies for free chemotherapy for those patients that are eligible and qualify.”

In addition to assisting cancer patients and their caregivers, the board of directors supports local oncology education and research.

The foundation has available ten $200 educational scholarships for the oncology nurses at each area hospital.

This enables oncology nurses employed at the hospitals to receive financial reimbursement for the expense of going to courses to maintain their oncology and chemotherapy certification.