Spotlight: Diane Stojanovich
For those who know Diane Stojanovich, they know she is nothing if not passionate about finding a cure for leukemia and lymphoma.
Diane was diagnosed in her mid-30's in 1998 with stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. At that time she was preparing for her first marathon, and her passion for fitness also became a crusade against her cancer diagnosis.
Diane quickly signed on with her oncologist to participate in a successful clinical trial at the UW Carbone Cancer Center from 1999-2000, which helped put her cancer into remission.
Currently there is no cure for blood-type cancers, of which there are more than 200 varieties, each of them requiring a treatment tailored specially to that patient.
Diane has been tireless in her efforts surrounding lymphoma. She worked to establish "TEAMSurvivor" a Madison-based group for women dealing with all types of cancer, and also helped establish a successful chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in Madison. She currently serves on their Western Region Executive Board.
Recently, she was nominated as a "2011 Man & Woman of the Year" candidate for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Madison chapter. Her goal is to raise pledges for blood cancer research and awareness. Each dollar she raises equals one vote. The winner of the most votes at the end of 10 weeks will be presented as Man, or Woman, of the year locally.
More than anything she wishes to be resource and source of strength for other people diagnosed with blood cancers. When not volunteering, raising funds for lymphoma research or running marathons, you will find Diane working at the UW-Madison School of Pharmacy in the Dean's office as Communications Director.
In Diane's Own Words
How has cancer affected your personal outlook on life?
Cancer changes everything. After I moved past the disbelief that it "couldn't be me," with a stage IV cancer diagnosis, I realized it was a gift of time. This gave me courage to make changes in my life that I may not have otherwise made, try new things and let things go.
That journey has taken me from beginning to learn to swim and completing Ironman competitions, to learning to read music and piano 101, and attending my first Green Bay Packers game.
You were involved in starting "TEAMSurvivor Madison, Inc." in Madison. What motivated you to start the group?
I learned about the national organization while attending a running camp in Colorado in 1999.
Given the important role that physical fitness played in my life, I embraced the philosophy of fitness opportunities for survivors. Through rigorous treatment, I pledged to inspire women to discover the power of thriving and surviving with exercise.
How important is personal fitness to you as it relates to your Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma diagnosis in 1998?
I believe I'm alive today because of my dedication to fitness and a healthy lifestyle. Fitness has allowed me to weather many of life's storms. When your health is compromised, the role of exercise is magnified. A cancer diagnosis redefines what it means to be "healthy" and "fit," and a post-treatment walk around the block may be noteworthy progress.
What do you feel has been the biggest advance in recent years regarding support for blood cancer research?
I feel the biggest advance has been the result of raising awareness about blood cancers. It has led to more participation in clinical trials, grants, and funding to continue the research.
What are you hoping to do through helping to organize several events locally to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and its "Man and Woman of the Year 2011" event this year?
I hope to raise awareness, the scope of people affected, resources available to patients and families, continual need for patients to participate in clinical trials, and dollars needed to continue the research for blood cancers.
Do you have any words of advice for anyone diagnosed to keep them motivated in their cancer journey?
- Put yourself first, always
- Fit to survive. Exercise means to thrive. Find your balance.
- Gift of time. Choose wisely and be able to say no
Special Offer: Sports Medicine Fitness Center Classes and Integrative Medicine Offerings - May 15
UW Health is offering you the chance to participate in selected Sports Medicine Fitness Center classes and Integrative Medicine offerings by pledging to support Diane Stojanovich, a Fitness Center member and nominee for this year's Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Woman of the Year. For more details, visit: uwhealth.org/showup