Tag Archives: Whittingham Cancer Center

Whittingham Run/Walk: Celebrating 25 Years Of Cancer Care

Countless Fairfield County residents have been helped by the Whittingham Cancer Center.

They — and their loved ones — benefit from the comprehensive care and leading-edge treatments for all types and stages of cancer at the Norwalk Hospital facility.

On Saturday, May 14 at Norwalk’s Calf Pasture Beach, we’ve got a chance to pay it forward. A 5K Run (8:30 a.m.) and 3K walk (10:30 a.m.) will raise funds for programs and services there.

This is the 18th annual C. Anthony & Jean Whittingham Cancer Center Walk & Run. It also marks the 25th anniversary of the facility.

Dr. Pradip Pathare remembers that entire quarter century — and much more. The Westport resident has been a Norwalk Hospital radiation oncologist for 40 years.

He discovered the specialty during his residency at Yale. It combined hands-on medicine with patient contact.

Dr. Pathare says that radiation oncology has come a long way from its earlier reputation: delivering bad news.

Dr. Pradip Pathare

“This is not ‘working with dying patients,'” he says. “The pendulum has swung. We cure a lot of patients — the majority — even those we used to lose, like to breast cancer. It’s not a depressing field at all.”

And those who do succumb to the disease, he says, are comforted throughout their time at Whittingham.

Dr. Pathare says he continues to learn new things about cancer, and its treatment. “You’re never too old to be a student. That’s what I love about this field.”

He cites 4D simulation, which adds both motion and time to 3D, to predict the spread of tumors.

Another advancement: surgical techniques that eliminate invasive cutting.

But when Dr. Pathare joined Norwalk Hospital 40 years ago, the radiation oncology department was housed “in the basement, between the morgue and the laundry.”

Donor by donor, brick by brick, he helped build what he calls “a world-class facility.”

He recalls an older woman he treated for skin cancer, using “an old machine held together with Band-Aids.”

Three months later, after her cure, she asked what his department needed. Dr. Pathare mentioned the machine.

How much would it cost? she wondered. $100,000, he said.

She wrote a check on the spot.

Donors like her have helped Whittingham upgrade every aspect of care. A key element was bringing separate offices — one for radiation, another for chemotherapy, a third for surgery — together in one place.

Tony and Jean Whittingham gave the seed money, in honor of his mother who died of ovarian cancer.

As the family — and many others — continued support, the Whittingham Cancer Center outgrew its Stevens Street location. It’s now around the corner, on Maple Street.

Dr. Pathare — the first director — helped design it. “I knew what would work: a very inviting space,” he says. He made sure the architects followed his vision.

The C. Anthony & Jean Whittingham Cancer Center.

In 2017, Memorial Sloan Kettering and Whittingham announced a collaboration. Integration with the existing Norwalk program — in which Norwalk Hospital oncologist, nurses, surgeons and pathologists practice alongside MSK doctors — was the first outside of New York State.

Dr. Pathare’s 2 daughters — Swapna and Meena — went through Kings Highway Elementary, Bedford Middle and Staples High Schools. Like their father, they still live here — with kids at Kings Highway.

The Pathare family continues to thrive in Westport. In Norwalk, Whittingham Cancer Center does the same.

(Click here to register for the Whittingham Cancer Center Walk & Run. Click here to contribute if you cannot attend by donating to the event or a specific team, and/or buying a tribute sign or balloon ribbon.)

Roundup: School Concerns, Supper & Soul, Parks & Rec & WTF Programs, More

As the reopening of school nears, stress levels are high. And they’re not just confined to adults.

Positive Directions — Westport’s not-for-profit center for counseling and mental health issues — offers tips for supporting a child with concerns about going back to school. Click here to read.

The Dead are coming to Westport.

Well, at least Terrapin: A Grateful Dead Experience, is. They draw raves, with their state-of-the-art equipment and true Garcia/Weir channeling.

They’re the next band for “Support & Soul,” the Westport- Weston Chamber of Concert/Westport Library drive-in collaboration.

Previous Supper & Soul shows — with Mystic Bowie, the Tom Petty Project and Mullett — have sold out.

Tickets are $100 per car (5 people max). The go on sale this Friday (August 28, 10 a.m.; click here). The Chamber urges concert-goers to support local restaurants, by ordering takeout for the show.

Registration began this morning for Westport’s Parks & Recreation fall programs. They include tennis clinics, Sports Squirts, IST Baseball and virtual at-home programs. Among the new programs: Skyhawks Hoopster Tots, Overtime Athletics Big Swing Whiffleball and High Fives Running Club.

Click here to see all programs, and to register.

Registration for Wakeman Town Farm’s fall programs will also be done through the Parks & Recreation department; just click here. Offerings include the Mommy (and Daddy) + Me “Little Farmers,” new Music Together classes, and programs for teens. All are safe, socially distanced and outdoors .

Questions about any program, or how to register online? Email recreation@westportct.gov, or call 203-341-5152.


An alert reader writes:

“In June of 2018, my wife was checking some flowers in our garden. She heard some rustling behind a large bush, and out popped a white deer.

“This prompted a bit of research. Only 1% of deer in the Northeast are white. In various cultures the white deer has some positive mythological significance. It can be viewed as a message from another world or the hereafter. This was startling to us, but in a good way.

“Two weeks before our first sighting, our family had put to rest a loved one just up the hill in the Christ & Holy Trinity Cemetery. So who knows?

“We continue to see the deer (there may now be 2) sporadically. Neighbors say  she (or they) are often sighted throughout Old Hill.”

Musicians everywhere have missed connecting with live audiences.

But when members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center concerts and touring team attended the American String Quartet concert at MoCA Westport last month, they saw the potential in the museum’s outdoor stage, vast grounds, and the way  attendees maintained social distancing

So MoCA proudly announces a new concert event. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Spotlight features the Alexa Tarantino Quartet on Friday, September 4 (7 p.m, MoCA Westport, 19 Newtown Turnpike).  

Tarantino is an award-winning, vibrant young jazz saxophonist, woodwind doubler and composer. Jazz Times’ Critics Poll named her a Top 5 Alto Saxophonist of 2019.

Concertgoers bring their own lawn chairs and food. There are food and drink trunks on the grounds, too. Click here for tickets, or call 203-222-7070.

Alex Tarantino

Saugatuck Rowing Club past commodore Carol Randel and her team — the Randelles — are leading a fundraiser to help people fighting cancer gain access to healthy food.

The “Row for Recovery” event addresses an unseen problem. Area residents must often decide between food and medical treatment. The pandemic has made the situation more dire.

Row for Recovery — set for Saturday, September 12 at the Rowing Club on Riverside Avenue — will help Norwalk Hospital’s Whittingham Cancer Center provide prepaid grocery store cards to people needing good nutrition during cancer treatment. $100 feeds a family of 4 for a month.

Click here to register, and for a course map.

Carol Randel

Amy Berkin writes: “I was downtown for a meeting, and wanted to enjoy a cup of coffee on a bench by the river. Look at this! It’s awful that people are not throwing away trash, and no garbage cans are out. Very sad for the town, and the wildlife in the river.

(Photo/Amy Berkin)

And finally … today is National Dog Day! Arf!

Whittingham Cancer Center: Care With A Hometown Heart

Tony Menchaca’s 2006 colonoscopy was clean. With no family history of colon cancer, he was happy to wait 10 years for his next one.

But when he saw blood in his stool in 2013, he had another procedure. Diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer, a foot of his colon was removed at Norwalk Hospital.

The disease had spread to his lymph nodes. He faced 6 months of chemotherapy.

Tony Menchaca

Tony — a Westporter since 1990, whose 3 boys earned fame as Staples High School wrestlers — had a choice. He could undergo chemo at world renowned Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, or at the much smaller Whittingham Cancer Center at Norwalk Hospital.

His surgeon, Dr. James McClane, described the value of a local center. It was important, he said, to think about ease of access, and the personalization of a smaller facility.

Tony chose Whittingham. Four years later — and cancer-free — he is very pleased with his experience.

“I got super treatment,” Tony says. “The level of expertise is comparable to New York. And the amount of caring was phenomenal.”

(Whittingham Cancer Center recently affiliated with Memorial Sloan Kettering. MSK medical and radiation oncologists are now onsite at Norwalk Hospital.)

Over 6 months, Tony underwent 12 rounds of chemo. He’d go in on Monday, for 3 hours of infusion. On Wednesday, he returned to have his pump disconnected. The next day, he went back for a booster shot.

Tony drove himself to his appointments. He did not want his wife Sara or his kids hanging around the infusion suite.

However, the setup encourages loved ones or friends to be there during treatment. “If you want people around, it’s great,” he notes.

Whittingham Cancer Center

Tony’s oncologist, Dr. Richard Frank, was very accessible. “I always saw him,” Tony says. “He’s a great guy, and like most of the doctors there, he’s local.”

So local, in fact, that he plays sax in the popular doctor-dominated rock band DNR.

“I may not have had that level of exposure to a physician in a larger cancer center,” Tony says.

But, Tony says, the heart of Whittingham is its chemo suite infusion nurses. They’re the ones he spent most of his time with. He can’t say enough about their expertise and concern.

The real eye-opener, though, was “the value of a local cancer center. If he spent 6 months commuting to chemo, Tony believes his recovery would have been far harder.

Even before his diagnosis, Tony had ridden in the CT Challenge, a bike ride fundraiser for cancer survivors. He’s now done it 7 times.

His other major effort is Whittingham’s 3K walk and 5K run. It’s doubly special this year: the 15th annual event for the cancer center falls on the 125th anniversary of Norwalk Hospital.

It’s Saturday, May 5 at Calf Pasture Beach. That’s just a couple of miles from his Westport home, so of course Tony will be there.

It’s not like he has to go all the way to New York for exercise.

Or excellent, life-saving cancer care.

(For more information on the Whittingham Cancer Center Walk & Sally’s Run, click here.)

Pic Of The Day #254

Most Pics of the Day don’t need a back story.

This one does.

Last week, Krystof Bodnar‘s doctor did a final biopsy. The news was great: His cancer is gone!

Chemotherapy and radiation did plenty of damage to the popular Westport window washer’s body. He is awaiting surgery for 2 stents in his heart. His legs give him problems, and his kidney function is not good.

“It takes time to get back to normal,” Krystof says. “But I’m going in the right direction. I no longer have to worry about cancer. I hope next spring I can start washing windows again, and be financially independent.” (Until that happens, you can still donate to his GoFundMe page.)

Krystof thanks Elaine and Kristen at Westport’s Department of Human Services, for all their help this year (including a Stop & Shop gift card). And he wishes all “06880” readers a happy, healthy new year.