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5.17.18 – SPOKES Notes & Photos

SPOKES Notes written by Roger Morgenstern

  • Every time we have a health care professional present to our Club, I am amazed at the depth and breadth of the medical expertise we have in our community. This week’s presentation by Dr. James Fahner was certainly no exception! Dr. Fahner is the founding (and current) division chief of pediatric hematology/oncology at the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and the Spectrum Health Medical Group. He called Mrs. DeVos “one of the fiercest advocates for children’s health I’ve ever met.”
  • The work being done in the area of pediatric oncology both locally and in the industry is amazing. Dr. Fahner shared the amazing improvements in mortality rates. For example, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia was virtually a death sentence in the 1960s. Today, the 5-year survival rate tops 90 percent.
  • Many of the advances in pediatric oncology are tied to genetic and molecular medical improvements. Unlike cancers in adults, there are less environmental factors involved in childhood cancer, therefore more precision on treating cancer and cancerous tumors through genetic mapping is key.
  • For example, Dr. Fahner said, the hospital uses a “Signatures Program” which takes a sample from a tumor and examines its actual molecular structure. “We’re creating these genetic molecular maps to find where those Achilles heels are….We’re excited about the future; treatments are becoming much more precise and the ‘one size fits all’ treatments of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. ‘ “

News and Notes:

  • Chuck Caldwell thanked the Grand Rapids Rotary Foundation for its support of the upcoming free dental clinic June 1 and 2, organized by the Michigan Dental Association Foundation. Doors open at 6 a.m. both days at Calvin  College, 3201 Burton Street SE. Services offered include fillings, cleanings, extractions and plenty of education. More information to share with others is available at The clinic is one of only four in Michigan.
  • Jim Gilbert reminded us again of the Rotary International Foundation does good all over the world and helps closer to home too. Each Rotarian is asked to contribute at least $100 a year. And then others contribute more. Jim congratulated James Eliassen and Doug Thompson as our Club’s latest members of the prestigious Paul Harris Society, which welcomes Rotarians who commit to contributing at least $1,000 annually to the RI Foundation.
  • Jamie Crosby and Bill Buchanan welcomed, for the last time this school year, our Interact students. Each month the high school students from 8 schools have two activities, one a Club meeting and the other a visit to an interesting place in the Grand Rapids community. Ideas for community visits for the next school year are welcomed by contacting Bill and Jamie.
  • Bet you didn’t know Saturday, June 2 is National Trails Day! To mark the occasion, James Eliassen and Christine Lindeman are inviting all of us to support and enhance the North Country Trail section that runs through Kent County’s Townsend Park in Rockford. Projects will include planting native species, removing invasive species, and cleaning/trimming trails.  Great for volunteers of all ages. We’ll work from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at Warren Townsend Park, 8280 6 Mile Road, Rockford. Pack a lunch so we can enjoy a group picnic after our hard work is complete! To volunteer, please contact Christine or James.
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