Keynote Address: Sarah Thomas, World record holder in marathon swimming Grit, Grace and Goals
How life lessons learned through marathon swimming helped me persevere through cancer and on toward becoming the first person to swim the English Channel four times, non stop.
Sarah Thomas, 38, is an ultra-marathon swimmer who holds the current world record for the longest continuous, unassisted, non-wetsuit, swim done in current-neutral conditions. That record-breaking swim covered 104.6 miles over 67 hours and was completed in Lake Champlain (NY/VT) in August of 2017. Shortly after completing this swim, Sarah was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She was just 35 years old. While undergoing aggressive cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy, Sarah never gave up on her dream of doing a swim that most people thought was impossible. One year after completing her cancer treatments, Sarah did just that- becoming the first person in history to complete a four-way crossing of the English Channel in 54 hours and 10 minutes.
Sarah lives near Denver, Colorado, with her husband Ryan, their two beagles and their rescue mutt. She is a full-time recruiter. She also does keynote presentations for special events, where she shares life lessons that have helped her complete marathon swims and beat cancer.
Other notable swims:
Catalina Channel- 20 miles, 2010
Manhattan Island Marathon Swim- 28.5 miles, 2011
English Channel (single crossing)- 21 miles, 2012
Double Lake Tahoe- 42 miles, 2013*
Double Lake Memphremagog- 50 miles, 2013*
Loch Ness- 22 miles, 2015**
Lake Powell- 80 miles, 2016*
Lake Champlain- 104.6 miles, 2017*
English Channel Four Way- 84 miles, 2019*
Kawai/Molokai Channel- 26 miles, 2021
*First person to complete this swim **Second American to complete this swim
Elizabeth Archer-Nanda, DNP, Norton Cancer Institute
Elizabeth Archer-Nanda, DNP, is an advanced psychiatric clinical nurse specialist. She began her career in oncology as a stem cell transplant nurse and has focused on the psychiatric-mental health aspects of oncology care since the completion of her master's in nursing at UCSF in 2004. Elizabeth started Norton Cancer Institute's integrated Behavioral Oncology Program in 2004. She has grown their program to include 5 advanced practice nurses, 5 social workers, 3 expressive therapists, nursing and administrative team members.
The program is a fully embedded program with routine collaboration with oncology colleagues across specialty areas including medical, radiation, gynecologic, neuro, and surgical oncology. The behavioral oncology program is a blended in-patient/ ambulatory care model to allow patients the benefit of care across the treatment trajectory. Dr. Archer-Nanda serves the cancer program as the leader of the psychiatric-oncology program and also remains a practicing advanced practice nursing provider in the program.
Elizabeth is involved with the American Psychosocial Oncology Society as their president elect, a member of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association as well as the Oncology Nursing Society. She serves her state as a member of the advanced practice advisory council with the Kentucky Board of Nursing and is on a multitude of task force within Norton Healthcare. When she is not at work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter.
Richard Barth, Jr., MD, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
I am a Physical Therapist who also enjoys Hula Hooping. I was born and raised a Yankee Girl but I have lived from coast to coast and have worked in many hospital and clinic settings. My focus however has been in homecare. In 2010 I joined the VNH t to provide care in the central rural area of Vermont. I lost my heart in San Francisco but I have made my home in Montpelier VT.
Approximately 13 years ago I flew to California to take a Body Hoop Certification course. It opened up a whole new avenue of fitness and expression for me. At the time I took this course hooping was primarily a dance art form or something you did in a contest. I immediately realized the fitness benefits. I designed a class to bring the Joy and Benefit of Hooping back to midlife individuals. I have taught classes and participated in many health type events since my California training. Hooping is fun and creative fitness which will surely bring a smile to your face.
Stacy Burnett, Fiercely Flat Vermont
Stacy Burnett is a breast cancer survivor and clinical social worker who is dedicated to expanding resources and support for women coping with the impacts of breast cancer and related surgery. She has a private practice in Jericho and hosts the FaceBook group, Fiercely Flat Vermont.
Rae Carter, EmpowR
Rae Carter is a cancer survivor, healing navigator, and health equity facilitator. She is intuitively and professionally trained in healing modalities including meditation and embodiment practices, vocal and cultural somatics, council facilitation, Reiki, Earth-based healing and spirituality, and herbalism. Rae is the founder of EmpowR, a healing and social justice enterprise in Plainfield, Vermont.
Mary Chamberlin, MD, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
Clinical practice in medical breast oncology with the Comprehensive Breast Care Program at DHMC
Research practice in pathways of resistance and metastases in breast cancer, fat metabolism and breast cancer and global oncology education and research in breast cancer in Low and Middle Income Countries. UVM College of Medicine and Internal Medicine Residency, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Fellowship in Hematology-Oncology.
David Cranmer, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
I was diagnosed with Leukemia in 1999 and received a Bone Marrow Transplant in 2000. Retired Manager for the Vermont State Cancer Coalition. I am a mentor for the NCI Patient Advocate Steering Committee. Co-Founder of the Vermont Cancer Survivor Network, an all- volunteer NPO providing support for cancer patients and caregivers. Volunteer Patient Advocate for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Recruiter and Peer Connect Provider and for the National Marrow Donor Program, Cancer Survivor Advocate for the University of Vermont Cancer Center. Served as a consumer reviewer and reviewer mentor for the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs and currently as a Panel Member, National Cancer Institute Special Emphasis Reviews. Recipient of the American Cancer Society Vermont Advocate of the Year Award and the Chairman's Award as the National Advocate of the Year for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Consultant and steering committee member for the "Vermont Cancer Survivor Surveillance System". Author/co-author of 7 published abstracts/publications on this study.
Robert David, Boston Medical Center
Bob David has managed the cancer support programs at Boston Medical Center since 2008. He has facilitated numerous cancer support groups, caregiver sessions, and bereavement groups over the years as well as initiated and implemented a variety of other survivorship programming. Previously he ran groups for a variety of challenged populations, always with a passion for inclusiveness and bringing out the voice in everyone.
Valerie is the writer and performer of The Pink Hulk: One Woman’s Journey to Find the Superhero Within. It is her award-winning, inspirational solo show that chronicles her journey to become a 3-time cancer survivor, which has been accepted into 38 different play festivals worldwide now. Valerie was diagnosed and treated for Stage III Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1999, Stage II Breast Cancer in 2014 and 2015, and Stage IV Breast Cancer in 2018. As of April 2019, she has beaten cancer again. Valerie no longer has active disease. There is no trace of her cancer. She is a true superhero, and The Pink Hulk is a true testament TO NEVER GIVE UP! In these current times, Valerie continues to perform her show virtually with audience talkbacks and Q&A’s. The Pink Hulk has won several awards including the Audience Choice Award in the Shenandoah Fringe and WOW Award in Sweden’s Gothenburg Fringe, and has been touring since 2016. Valerie and her show have been featured on TV, radio, in publications and on podcasts, including NBC 4 New York, CBS, FOX, amNY, Heal magazine, The IndyStar, Breast Friends Cancer Support Radio Network, Mia’s World, First Online With Fran, The Crisis Help Show, and Reykjavik Fringe Festival podcast.
Teresa Davis, Davis Studio
Teresa has worked for over thirty years with students of all ages supporting creativity through the visual arts. She began her career as a classroom teacher and later an art instructor for elementary students. For the past 18 years, she has been teaching drawing and painting in her private art studio located in South Burlington, Vermont. Davis Studio has grown exponentially and now employs over twenty dedicated instructors who teach classes and camps year-round. Teresa also hosts art classes as part of the University of Vermont Medical Center’s Comprehensive Pain Clinic. Teresa believes that everyone is innately creative and that expressing yourself brings joy and connection into your life.
Kim Dittus, MD, UVM Medical Center Kim Dittus is a medical oncologist and associate professor at the University of Vermont. Dr Dittus’ clinical focus is breast cancer. Her research interests include nutrition, culinary medicine and exercise. She is the director of the University of Vermont Medical Center Steps to Wellness program, which is an exercise based oncology rehabilitation program. She happens to have a PhD in nutrition and was a registered dietitian before she went to medical school.
Douglas Franzoni, PharmD, UVM Medical Center
Growing up with a father who is a beloved community pharmacist, Dr Franzoni, PharmD, BCOP knew he also wanted to enter the field to help patients and their families during the hardest times in their lives. He holds his Doctorate in Pharmacy from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and was excited to return to his home state of Vermont to practice about ten years ago. Dr Franzoni is one of very few Board Certified Geriatric Pharmacists in the state of Vermont, which has been an area of expertise that is often called upon, as he not only works as a full time supervisor in the UVM outpatient pharmacy, but he serves as a consultant pharmacist on the newly formed geriatric service. Dr Franzoni is excited to be a founding member of the UVM "Meds to Beds" Program which has received statewide and even national attention for their innovative bedside medication delivery service. Dr Franzoni has a newfound love of oncology pharmacy; recognizing that cancer-related pain is one of the highest drivers of utilization in the hospital, he has worked hard within the inpatient oncology unit to serve patients who are discharging in an effort to reduce their symptom burden once home. In his spare time, "DJ" enjoys taking long drives and being outside, and is honored to present at Stowe Weekend of Hope for the first time this year.
Garth Garrison, MD, UVM Medical Center
Dr. Garth Garrison is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at the University of Vermont. He is a pulmonary and critical care physician and is the director of the lung cancer multidisciplinary team at UVM.
Geri Ann Higgins, Fully Present, LLC
Geri Ann Higgins, Owner/Founder of Fully Present, LLC, has a goal of helping people feel less stressed, more often so they can increase more pockets of peace and vitality in their lives. Geri Ann's cancer experience helped her gain a better understanding of how to more fully support others in their healing journeys. Offering a variety of meditative, movement and self-discovery approaches, Geri Ann holds multiple certifications and trainings. Examples include, but are not limited to, being a Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Registered Yoga Teacher, Certified yoga4cancer Teacher, Meditation practitioner and Holden QiGong Teacher-in-Training.
Jennifer Kelly, DO, University of Vermont Medical Center
Dr. Kelly is an Endocrinologist at the University of Vermont Medical Center and Associate Professor of Medicine at the Larner College of Medicine in Burlington. VT. She is also the Director of the Metabolic Bone Program at UVMMC.
Marv Klassen-Landis, D-H Arts
Marv Klassen-Landis tells stories, performs poetry and leads written and spoken word residencies and workshops, and offers one-to-one writing coaching. Marv leads creative writing workshops with patients and supporters at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the Children’s Hospital of Dartmouth and the Jack Byrne Center for Palliative and Hospice Care. He also does one-to-one writing coaching with patients and supporters and leads writing groups for oncology patients and supporters and for psychiatric patients. He has been participating in a study of creative writing with patients with advanced cancer and with seizure patients. Marv is a frequent storyteller and literacy presenter for the Children’s Literacy Foundation. A co-founder and performer with Children’s Voices Theatre, he has taught creative writing at the elementary, high school and college levels and has led many storytelling, writing and theatre workshops and residencies from Vermont to Colorado. As a poet, an artist-in-residence, and performer, Marv’s major emphasis in residencies and educator professional development workshops is inspiring reluctant readers and writers. Marv has developed integrated arts programs for children with disabilities and chronic illnesses. He also served as arts education director at a Vermont regional arts organization, working closely with school districts on standards based theatre and dance curriculum development, residencies, and performances for students. Marv has published poetry in a variety of journals and is the author/illustrator of a children’s book.
Rachel Lacourciere, Niyama Yoga VT
Rachel Lacourciere is an E-RYT – Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher - with Yoga Alliance School. In the past she has taught at a wide variety of venues, including gyms, studios, corporate offices, and in homes, but this past year has led her to teaching virtually. She is continually striving to expand and grow her private practice, believing that when you are willing to bring yoga to the individual, through catered instruction, the benefits can be better understood and realized. Rachel was first introduced to yoga in 1995, after a serious car accident. She spent 48 hours in surgery and intensive care. Rachel’s love for yoga as a lifestyle blossomed as she moved through college, her career, and into parenthood. She recognized when she was in regular practice (whether it was through breath work or the physical postures of yoga) she was a better teacher, daughter, wife, friend, mother, and all-around person.
Kathy Manns, RN, PNP (Retired)
I am a retired RN and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. I worked with adults with cancer, in a hospital setting, for a number of years.
My partner of 42 years was diagnosed with ovarian cancer about five years ago. That journey has brought new challenges and new depth to our relationship.
Todd Miller, PhD, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
Jessie Owens, Fulcrum Massage and Bodywork, LLC
Jessie Owens is a dancer and a certified Yoga instructor who is curious about the places where the art, science, and spirituality of movement overlap. She is also a certified massage therapist who specializes in Myofascial Release for the treatment of chronic or acute musculoskeletal pain and tension, increasing mobility and fluidity of movement, and facilitating the body's innate ability to heal. She holds a B.A. in Dance from Smith College, and is currently focusing her graduate work on the development of interoceptive and proprioceptive awareness through dance.
Lonnie Poland, Experience Yoga
Lonnie Poland, Physical Therapist, Certified Yoga Teacher, Reiki Teacher/Practitioner, and Mindfulness Facilitator, worked as a Physical Therapist for 25 years at the University of Vermont Medical Center Rehabilitation Department. She founded Experience Yoga in 2013, where she continues to offer Yoga and Reiki group classes and, private sessions, workshops, and retreats. She has enjoyed offering iRest Yoga Nidra mediation sessions for the SWOH since 2016. www.experienceyoga.com www.facebook.com/ExperienceYogaVT
Hannah Rohloff, Tessera Massage
Hannah Rohloff is a board certified therapeutic massage and bodywork therapist. She specializes in oncology massage and manual lymph drainage at her private practice, Tessera Massage, in Montpelier, Vermont where she works with people in cancer treatment and those living with cancer histories.
Andrew Rosenfeld, MD, UVM Medical Center
Andrew Rosenfeld MD is an Assistant Professor at the Larner College of Medicine and Director of the Outpatient Clinic at Vermont Center for Children, Youth & Families within the University of Vermont Medical Center. He teaches undergraduates and medical trainees about the science of well-being and works as a psychiatrist to promote healthy brain development in families.
Brian Schreck, Norton Cancer Institute
Brian Schreck, MA, MT-BC is a board-certified music therapist who has been serving the chronically ill since 2004. Brian has a bachelor’s of arts in music therapy from Berklee College of Music and a master’s of arts in music therapy from New York University. Brian has been on the executive committee of the International Association for Music and Medicine for the past 5 years. Palliative care, end-of-life care, and bereavement are areas of passion for Mr. Schreck. Brian has presented locally, nationally, and internationally on his innovative work in medical music therapy. Schreck pioneered the use of heartbeat recordings as a way to rhythmically connect with patients and their families through ongoing recording projects. This rhythmic stem cell is something that can be worked on, changed, and transformed into music forever. Brian’s main aim as a medical music therapist is to be as creative as possible to serve the needs of the patients he serves as well as their families. Brian Schreck facilitates ongoing in and outpatient music therapy with people with a diagnosis of cancer through the Norton Cancer Institute.
Nikoletta Sidiropoulos, MD
Dr. Nikoletta Sidiropoulos is an Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Larner College of Medicine and the Inaugural Medical Director of the Genomic Medicine Program at the UVM Medical Center. Dr. Sidiropoulos received her medical degree from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine graduating with the award in “Excellence in Medical Studies”. She completed her residency in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and subsequently completed fellowships in cytopathology and molecular genetic pathology. She also is a diplomate of the American Board of Pathology and American Board of Preventative Medicine in Clinical Informatics.
Her areas of expertise include molecular genetic pathology with subspecialty interests in oncology and quality improvement.
Ryan Sullivan, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital
Dr. Ryan Sullivan is board certified in Medical Oncology and an Attending Physician in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). He attended Colby College for undergraduate studies and then matriculated to the University of Connecticut Medical School, graduating in 2001. He first trained in Internal Medicine at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA and then at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Hematology/Oncology. At the MGH, he is the Associate Director of the Melanoma Program in the MGH Cancer Center and a member of the Termeer Center for Targeted Therapy.
Dr. Sullivan is an active clinical and translational investigator whose main areas of interest are the development of novel molecular targeted and immunotherapeutic combinations for malignant melanoma and other solid tumors, the translation of promising preclinical findings into early stage clinical trials, and the development of predictive biomarkers for these investigational as well as standard treatment approaches. In addition, he has an active interest in improving the prediction, through the development of blood-based biomarkers, and management of immune checkpoint inhibitor toxicity. Finally, he is a member of a number of national organizations including ASCO, AACR, and SITC, and serves as the Chair of the SITC Immunotherapy Resistance Committee Leadership Taskforce.
Dr. Steve’s early years were plagued by crippling anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Despite graduating valedictorian from one of the nation’s top chiropractic colleges and running a thriving practice, Dr. Steve found that his outer success did little to calm his inner turmoil.Thus began a thirty-year journey to understand the root of happiness. His exploration of Western psychotherapy, Eastern teachings of mindfulness, hypnosis, and the science of prosperity provided profound insight into the universal nature and cause of suffering; the subconscious mind… which ultimately led to the creation of his successful UnHypnosis system and bestselling books; UnHypnosis, Buddha in the Trenches, The Magic of Inner Selling, and Bulletproof. Blending his teachings with a long time passion for humor and magic, Dr. Steve developed a series of insightful, fun presentations about mastering the subconscious mind which was quickly embraced by organizations for their ability to reduce anxiety and get people in action.Since then, Dr. Steve’s excitement, motivation and enthusiasm have earned him fans from every profession as he continues to enthrall audiences worldwide, helping them remove mental barriers to achieving their dreams.
Alissa Thomas, MD, University of Vermont Medical Center
Alissa Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Neurological Sciences at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine. She completed her medical degree at the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University, followed by residency in Neurology at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. She completed a fellowship in neuro-oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and now practices clinical Neuro-Oncology at the University of Vermont Medical Center. Her research interest focuses on developing and overseeing clinical trials to improve survival and quality of life for patients with brain tumors. She is the Neurology Residency Program Director and active in medical education.
LiMing Tseng, Stowe Acupuncture
LiMing Tseng, LicAc, MAcOM, Dipl OM (NCCAOM) is a licensed acupuncturist, integrating acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, medical aromatherapy, dietary therapies, and stone medicine in her treatments. She is a current Board member at large, and former secretary of the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA), the national acupuncture professional organization representing 5,000 acupuncturists nationwide. Li is the co-chair of the NCCAOM and ASA Acupuncture Medicine Cultural Competency Task Force and as well as the Chair of the ASA Conference Committee. In addition, she is a current member of the Society of Integrative Oncology, the Society for Acupuncture Research, and the Vermont Acupuncture Association. She received her Masters in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in 2001 from the New England School of Acupuncture, with concentrations in Traditional Japanese, Traditional Chinese acupuncture, and Chinese herbal medicine. Li maintains a private practice in the beautiful town of Stowe, Vermont.
Paul Unger, MD, Champlain Valley Hematology Oncology/University of Vermont Health Network
Dr. Paul Unger has practiced hematology and oncology in Vermont since 1994. He is a partner with Champlain Valley Hematology Oncology, a community-based oncology practiced in the Burlington Vermont area and the Site Director for Community Oncology for the University of Vermont Health Network.
Dr. Unger completed his undergraduate studies at Wesleyan University. He went on to medical school at Harvard Medical school and then did his internal medicine training at Cornell/New York Hospital Medical Center and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Fellowship training was at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston followed by two years on staff at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center before his move to Vermont.
As a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Vermont Medical Center, he is a cofounder of the Breast Care Center and the Stem Cell Transplant Program. He has spent time serving on the cancer committee of the hospital, and has served as the hospital medical staff president in the past and is current chair of the Credentials Committee of the Medical Staff.
Dr. Unger has been active in the American Society of Clinical Oncology as a member of the ASCO Supportive Care Guideline Advisory Group and the QOPI Steering Committee, and ASH as a member of the ASH Practice Partnership. He has been actively involved in the Northern New England Clinical Oncology society over the last few years most recently serving on the board of directors since 2013 and President in 2019.
Claire Willis, Facing Cancer Together
Claire B. Willis, a clinical social worker, has been working in the fields of oncology and bereavement for more than twenty years. Her work and her life experience were the primary sources of inspiration for her recently published book, Opening to Grief.
A former staff member of The Wellness Community, a national organization, and cofounder of the Boston nonprofit Facing Cancer Together, Claire has led bereavement, end-of-life support, and therapeutic writing groups. She has co-taught Spiritual Resources for Healing the Mind, Body, and Soul at Andover Newton Theological School. Claire maintains a private practice in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Claire has worked in hospice care for many years, both as a volunteer and a social worker. As a lay Buddhist chaplain, she focuses on contemplative practices for end-of-life care. Claire is the author of Lasting Words: A Guide to Finding Meaning Toward the Close of Life (Green Writers Press, Brattleboro, Vermont, 2014). and Opening to Grief: Finding Your Way From Loss to Peace, (2020, Red Wheel Weiser Press).
Sadelle Wiltshire is a teaching artist and labyrinth facilitator from Putney, VT. She has a special interest in helping others find some inner peace and healing using both artistic and creative mindfulness practices that foster quiet, reflection and spiritual connection. Sadelle first encountered a labyrinth over 20 years ago during a period of great change in her life, and has seen first-hand the healing power of using them as a tool for prayer, mindfulness, creative reflection and self-care, especially during her spouse’s recent cancer journey. She regularly shares this healing resource with others in her community through group walks, mindful drawing workshops, and journaling programs. She is a Veriditas Certified Facilitator, and a mindfulness art instructor and has led programs and retreats in the US and abroad, and offers a number of online programs. She can be contacted through her website, www.sadellewiltshire.com.