ESCAPE to Thrive 2019 Presenters:

Marianne Woods Cirone, MS, MFA, CYT-500,is a writer, wellness educator, healthcare consultant and passionate advocate for people affected by cancer. In 2015, she founded the online journal, the Integrative Cancer Review (, to promote safe, effective and accessible integrative therapies for people affected
by cancer.

As the Wellness Coordinator at the LivingWell Cancer Resource Center, a division of Northwestern Medicine, from 2007-2015, Cirone managed thousands of wellness visits annually, helping to develop integrative programs and guidelines for cancer-focused massage, yoga, meditation, exercise and Reiki programs. She leads trainings on cancer-focused modifications for health and wellness professionals, as well as leading a variety of integrative programs for cancer survivors. She served as Principal Investigator on a study on yoga, Reiki and massage for cancer patients published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.

As a graduate of the Rush University Health Systems Management master’s degree program, Cirone worked in hospital finance and healthcare consulting before specializing in cancer-focused wellness. She received a MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University in Los Angeles and also leads creative and memoir writing workshops for people affected by cancer. Cirone received yoga certifications from the Temple of Kriya Yoga, Moksha Yoga, Atma Yoga and yoga4cancer (y4c), and is a certified Cancer Exercise Specialist.

Cirone founded the Empowerment Yoga for Breast Cancer Care program at the Prana Yoga Center and served as a Board Member for the Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope, dedicated to bringing music, art and hope to young cancer patients.

Dr. Mark David Gilbert, M.D., Dip. ABPN, F.R.C.P. is a past Director of the Mind-Body Medicine Skills Group Program at the Banner University of Arizona Medical Center-Tucson; past Co-Leader of Psychosocial Oncology, the Banner University of Arizona Cancer Center; former Director of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry; and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona. Dr. Gilbert has practiced Psychiatry for over four decades after graduating from UCLA’s residency program. He lectures the Mind-Body Medicine, Physician Self-Care, and Coping with Life-Threatening and Chronic Illness courses at the College of Medicine, University of Arizona and has been treating cancer patients for over 40 years. He has been a contributing member in psychosocial oncology and mind-body medicine for the Integrative Oncology fellowship and student elective program respectively at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, and has had an affiliation with the Reproductive Health Center in Tucson, Arizona. Dr. Gilbert is on the teaching faculty for the University of Arizona senior Psychiatry residents, and has won both Junior and Senior teaching awards in that role. Dr. Gilbert was the co-director of one of the first Integrative Medical Clinics in Canada and has been Director of the Eye of the Hurricane® Mind-Body Medicine Skills Group Program for over 20 years. At present, Dr Gilbert is a Housestaff Mentor for the Residents and Fellows at the College of Medicine, University of Arizona; teaches for the Department of Psychiatry, and has a small private practice.

Kristy Harvey has over 12 years of experience as a movement educator, writer, and public speaker on topics of mindfulness, work – life balance, and living vibrantly. Her book, Mindfulness On the Move, gives suggestions on how to find stillness through movement. She is a Licensed Brown Belt Nia Instructor, an E-RYT Yoga Instructor and Trainer, and owner of Wise Owl School of Yoga. She offers 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings twice each year. Kristy is also the host of the Wise Owl Wellness Radio Show, a podcast on all things wellness.

Kristy is the former Administrative Director of the Mindfulness Center at the University of Virginia. In 2010, she developed and implemented a clinical trial at the University of Virginia Cancer Center to study the effect of the Nia Technique among women treated for breast cancer. The study is currently in review for publication in a medical journal. In 2011, she started a Restorative Yoga program for breast cancer survivors and caregivers at the UVA School of Nursing.

Kristy has helped hundreds of people learn new ways to find happiness at work and at home. You can find her teaching yoga, leading retreats, and bringing the Dance of Gratitude to Miraval Resort. She currently lives in Tucson, AZ.

Rocky LaRose is a two-time cancer survivor (breast and appendix), a retired Director of Athletics and an award-winning photographer who volunteers her photographic skills at cancer events, including BAG IT and ESCAPE to Thrive. Rocky has been a featured speaker and mistress of ceremonies at national and community events speaking on various topics from cancer survivorship, student-athlete wellness to photography. Her photography has been featured in articles and cover images in publications and websites. An expert wildlife photographer, her most recent accomplishment was winning a spot on the Arizona Highways, Arizona Wildlife calendar. Rocky is fond of saying “It’s not about photography, it’s about the experience and seeing the world in a different way.” Her cancer diagnosis has shaped her photography seminars to speak to the art of seeing differently, of building life experiences and focusing on being present, rather than the technical aspects of the camera. Some of her favorite images can be viewed on Instagram @RockyLaRose_Photography.

In her professional life Rocky was a pioneer in the field of elite athletics and well-known for her advocacy on student-athlete wellness issues. She was the 1st woman to serve as the University of Arizona’s Director of Athletics and Deputy Director/Chief Operations Officer and was the 1st woman in her capacity to oversee operations of a Division 1A football and men’s basketball programs, as well as 18 other men’s and women’s Olympic sports. Rocky was a 3-time Vice President of the Pac-12 Conference and a charter member of the NCAA Management Council.

Susan Leigh, BSN, RN 
After receiving her degree in nursing from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Susan Leigh served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and completed a tour of duty in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam, in 1971.  Soon after her return from Vietnam, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma and treated with some of the earliest forms of chemotherapy and radiation. This experience influenced her decision to become an oncology nurse.

For the past 3 decades, Susan has focused her efforts on national advocacy work with special emphasis on long-term and late effects of cancer treatment.  Her most cherished involvement has been with the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) as a founding member and past president.  She has also been actively involved with many professional organizations, including the Oncology Nursing Society and the National Cancer Institute.

Susan also worked as a Survivorship consultant and educator with Arizona Oncology in Tucson until health issues accelerated her decision to retire.  As major treatment-related cardiac issues and a paralyzed vocal cord made it difficult to fulfill work obligations, she continues to be available in a consultant capacity.  Besides surviving Hodgkin lymphoma, she has also been treated for breast and bladder cancers, and recently completed targeted radiation therapy for early stage lung cancer.

Santosh Rao, MD, ADOIM 
Dr. Rao is the Medical Director of Integrative Medicine for Banner MD Anderson. His interest in Integrative Medicine began in college and was a significant influence on his decision to pursue a career in the medical field. After studying biophysics at the University of Michigan, he went on to obtain his medical degree at the University of Michigan as well. Dr. Rao then completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Rao has studied Hematology and Oncology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center. He previously was employed at Scripps Green Hospital in San Diego, where he observed the practice of Integrative Medicine and developed strong relationships with leaders in the field.

Dr. Rao is passionate about incorporating Integrative Oncology and Cancer Prevention in cancer care. He completed an Associate Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona in 2006 as a Bravewell Fellow. Dr. Rao serves as the co-chair for the Clinical Practice Committee for the Society of Integrative Oncology, and will co-chair the annual SIO conference in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2018. He also teaches Integrative Medicine fellows at the University of Arizona, and has been a leading contributor to education modules for the cancer curriculum. Dr. Rao has a strong interest in Ayurveda; he has traveled to India multiple times studying Ayurveda, and he is currently enrolled in an Ayurveda course with a goal of offering Ayurvedic services in his program.

Tony Redhouse serves as a traditional Native American practitioner & consultant to Native American communities,behavioral health organizations and non-profits. He also provides one-to-one spiritual coaching sessions with individuals to bring simplicity and clarity to life transitions, goals and healing. Mr. Redhouse uses Native American art, dance and music to inspire and heal lives. He is a Grammy-nominated recording artist, inspirational speaker, spiritual teacher and Hoop and Eagle dancer.  As a World-Beat percussionist, he has performed and recorded with the late Vince Welnick of “Grateful Dead”, late Ruben Romero on “Native Flamenco” album, Snatam Kaur on “Heaven and Beyond” and “Reunited.”

Lisa Rezende 
Dr. Lisa Rezende is currently an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Arizona, where she teaches introductory biology and genetics as well as science outreach and communication. She earned her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completed her post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Rezende received additional training in science communication through an AAAS Science and Engineering Mass Media Fellowship. She has worked in science education and communication for over twenty years.

Dr. Rezende began working in cancer advocacy in 2011 as a volunteer for FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, after discovering she carries a mutation in the BRCA1 gene. She worked as Vice President of Education from 2014-2017 where she helped establish and managed the FORCE XRAYS program and was part of the team that developed the FORCE Peer Navigation Program. She remains a FORCE volunteer, writing patient-friendly summaries of current cancer research and serving on the steering committee for the FORCE XRAYS program.

Sherri Romanoski, is a cancer survivor and the founder of BAG IT, a non-profit organization that provides newly diagnosed cancer patients and their families with helpful resources for coping with diagnosis and treatment. BAG IT has helped 70,000 people with cancer since 2003. Its vision is to empower patients to be more engaged in their care, advocate for themselves, and learn to cope with the challenges associated with diagnosis and treatment. Further, BAG IT empowers cancer advocates to promote this same vision in their communities. Sherri developed and launched ESCAPE to Thrive Leadership Conference for Cancer Advocates in 2010, an innovative approach to advocacy support.

In addition to working in patient advocacy for 14 years, Sherri has 10 years of experience as a behavioral health educator and 22 years as a classroom teacher. Her patient advocacy experience includes Department of Defense research review, clinical trial and cancer research proposal review at the University of Arizona Comprehensive Cancer Center, patient advocate on the Scientific Advisory Board for the University of Arizona Comprehensive Cancer Center NCI Review, Quality of Life and Treatment committees member for the Arizona Cancer Coalition, and Advisory Board member for the GWU PCORI GATE Project.

Dan Rubin
Dr. Rubin’s practice of naturopathic oncology has been an integral part of the Phoenix metropolitan medical community for the past 20 years. After graduating from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM) in 1997, Dr. Rubin returned to SCNM to complete his residency. In 2004, he became the Founding President of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP). The OncANP represented a revolution for the field of naturopathic oncology providing, for the first time, definition, validation and standardization of the field of naturopathic oncology. Since that time Dr. Rubin has become an internationally recognized naturopathic oncologist.

Dr. Rubin is co-Founder (along with his wife, Debi Smolinski, ND) and Medical Director of Naturopathic Specialists, LLC, in Scottsdale, AZ, where he practices full-time as a naturopathic oncologist. At present, Naturopathic Specialists has served the clinical and logistical oncology needs of people from all 50 states as well as 19 countries.

Dr. Rubin is an expert at the integration of traditional and naturopathic medicine for people with cancer and services both the adult and pediatric population. He is also an expert in the naturopathic approach to people with cancer who either are unable to undergo conventional therapy or who choose not to. His selected positions include those from the regulatory, education, advisory and community sectors and his main philanthropic interests are focused on children with cancer as well as post-graduate education.

Joyce Schaffer is Nurse Navigator for the oncology clinical trials department at HonorHealth Research Institute. She has over 30 years of experience in the nursing field working in the areas of general medical/surgical, orthopedics, neurology and oncology. She is recipient of the National Foundation for Cancer Research Grant supporting her continued role in patient support and education. She has an advanced practice oncology certification through the Oncology Nursing Society and is Masters Prepared from the University of Phoenix. The past 15 years her primary focus has been in oncology clinical trials providing education and support for patients and their families in the cancer treatment journey. Because it is so challenging to navigate the oncology clinical trial world, she gives talking points and directives for patients and their loved ones of how to communicate with the treatment oncologist(s). She speaks to individuals nationally and internationally connecting them with resources to ensure the best treatment and care is provided. Her passion is increasing awareness of the importance and accessibility of clinical trials in a person’s personal cancer journey with the main goal of providing hope with quality and quantity of life.

Eric Walk
Dr. Eric Walk is Chief Medical and Scientific Officer and Senior Vice President of Medical Scientific Affairs at Roche Tissue Diagnostics (RTD).

Dr. Walk’s primary interests are the area of personalized healthcare, cancer immunotherapy and molecular diagnostics. Prior to joining RTD, Dr. Walk worked at Novartis Oncology where he held positions in Translational Medicine and Early Clinical Development, working at the interface between discovery research and clinical development to establish and implement biomarker strategies for several early and late stage targeted oncology therapeutics.

Dr. Walk is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Johns Hopkins University and graduated from the University of Virginia Medical School in 1995. He is board certified in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology and a Fellow of the College of American Pathologists.