Escape to THRIVE 2020 Presenters:

Tani Bahti Passionate about end of life issues, Tani has spent most of her 44-year nursing career focusing on improving end-of-life care. As both oncology and hospice nurse, she recognized the critical role that caregivers play. This involved recognizing that expressions of fear, loss, anger, guilt, gratitude and sadness are all a part of the grieving process for patient and caregiver alike. An important part of this process is the ability to anticipate, recognize and adjust to changes. Finding ways to express gratitude and establish new goals are also important for all who are impacted by the changes. That includes involved healthcare professionals as well as family and friends.

Having experienced the deaths of family and friends as well as beloved patients, her work is personal as well as professional. She has sought ways to prepare, support and educate patients, their caregivers and healthcare providers in their struggle to maintain balance. That led to writing and producing the “Straight Talk Series on End of Life Issues”, the award-winning video “Living Through Dying – The Struggle for Grace”.

A frequent speaker for professional and lay groups, Tani developed clinical training programs for medical and nursing schools and hospice volunteers. She was the founder and executive director of the non-profit organization, Passages – Support & Education in End of Life Issues, from 2009 until 2015. She continues to expand her work through community collaboration and national consultation to seek ways to creatively support patients, caregivers and health care providers.

Dr. Mark David Gilbert, M.D., Dip. ABPN, F.R.C.P. is 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 is Board Certified and practiced Psychiatry for over four decades after graduating from UCLA’s residency program. He has lectured 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 has been on the teaching faculty for the University of Arizona senior Psychiatry residents, and has won both a number of 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 Housestaff Mentor for the Residents and Fellows at the College of Medicine, University of Arizona and has a small private practice seeing cancer and other patients.

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, Retired 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.

Liz Margolies, LCSW,
is the founder and executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network, the first and only national program addressing the needs of LGBT people with cancer and those at risk. Based in NYC, the Network focuses on education, training, advocacy and support. Liz is also a psychotherapist in private practice, specializing in trauma, loss, health disparities and sexuality. In 2014 Liz was chosen as one of the OUT100 for her work in the LGBT community.

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.”

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.