"The cancer center was a protective, caring environment. I felt comfortable and safe there."

Birthdays mean a lot more to Rose Garfinkle these days. “Every year, I’m just thankful to be alive,” she says. “It’s like icing on the cake.”

In 1994, when Rose was 38, a physician at the UI’s Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center (HCCC) confirmed her worst fears: The breast cancer she thought she’d beaten—with a mastectomy two years earlier at HCCC—had returned.

With a three-year-old daughter and a husband at home, and a demanding career as a graphic designer and manager, Rose was catapulted into a world of uncertainty and turmoil. Fortunately, though, she was under the care of the expert staff at HCCC, one of America’s premier cancer centers. And from the oncologists to the receptionists, they set to work caring for Rose—not just physically, but emotionally as well.

Supported by generous contributions large and small, the center is truly a comprehensive one, providing compassionate care for patients like Rose and advanced research so fewer cancer patients will need that care in the future.

HCCC arrranged for Rose to speak with other women who’d been through the same ordeal, women who became Rose’s good friends. The center was responsive to her questions and needs. Her husband, Barry Markovsky, was welcomed into the process; when Rose stayed in the hospital for a month following an autologous bone-marrow transplant, Barry spent much of that time by her side writing the Rose Report, a newsletter about her progress that he sent to friends and family. One nurse was assigned to Rose throughout her time at the center, assuring continuity and familiarity. Rose had ready access to the hospital’s library.

Rose sums up the experience this way: “The cancer center was a protective, caring environment. I felt comfortable and safe there.”

All the while, Rose was undergoing advanced, aggressive treatment featuring bone-marrow transplant techniques that had been developed partly by UI researchers. That extensive treatment saved her life. No longer a cancer patient, Rose has become a cancer survivor, thanks to HCCC.

“I’m incredibly proud to be part of the survivor community,” she says.

Now Rose, who has since moved from Iowa City to Columbia, South Carolina, gives back to HCCC and fellow survivors. She serves on the center’s Advocacy Board. She offers support to other women, just as patients before her did for her. And most of all, she’s a believer in the power of advanced medicine joined with compassionate, patient-centered care—the specialty of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center.