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Standing by the colorful and large "sunflowers" sculpture on the grounds of the Stony Brook University Cancer Center outpatient facility are, from left: Rose Cardin, R.N., Administrator, SBUMC Cancer Services; Dr. Michael L. Pearl, Director, Gynecologic Oncology, SBUMC, and his daughter, Alexis; Dr. Steven L. Strongwater, CEO, SBUMC; artist Cruz, and his wife, Patricia Hills Cruz.
To symbolize hope and new life, the Stony Brook University Cancer Center unveiled a large and colorful sculpture depicting sunflowers, which stands near the entrance of the outpatient center, during a ceremony honoring gynecologic cancer patients on September 21. Donated by a local artist, Cruz, the sculpture is a gift to Stony Brook University Medical Center in honor of the care his wife, Patricia Hills Cruz, received through the SBUMC Division of Gynecologic Oncology.

When Cruz and Patricia, of Port Jefferson, learned earlier this year that she had a pre-cancerous condition that could develop into cervical cancer, they did not know what to do. They researched which doctors in the area specialized in gynecologic oncology and decided to see Michael L. Pearl, M.D., Director of Gynecologic Oncology at SBUMC. What resulted was a surgical procedure performed by Dr. Pearl, and follow-up care, which led to a cure of the condition.

The couple views Patricia's story and end result as a hopeful one to the many women with pre-cancerous or cancerous gynecological conditions. September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 80,000 new cases of gynecologic cancer will be diagnosed nationwide in 2009 with more than 27,000 deaths. Cruz, Patricia, and the SBU Cancer Center staff, believe that when patients look at the "sunflowers" upon entering the building, the sculpture will help convey positive thoughts about life and health.

"This sculpture and gift is also a symbol of the medical center's marriage and commitment to the community to provide compassionate and world-class care," said Steven. L. Strongwater, M.D., CEO, Stony Brook University Medical Center. "Viewing this wonderful work of art will certainly lighten the day for many patients walking through the doors."

"Our outpatient cancer center building is young, and the energy of the building and those who work in it are growing like a child and developing a certain character, a soul," said Dr. Pearl. "I see the sculpture as an illustration that we will care for those who are treated here, which will nurture their souls."

"Medicine is the hardest form of art. Doctors and nurses, keep practicing your art," declared Cruz, as he and Patricia thanked Dr. Pearl and his medical team for treating her condition so effectively.

Made from the metal of a 100-year-old plow, the sculpture is one of many creations by Cruz, whose passion is creating many types of sculptures from scrap metals.

The unveiling of the sculpture was coupled with a candlelight celebration, where 29 gynecologic cancer survivors joined in celebration with SBUMC doctors, nurses, staff, and their families honoring all survivors and families affected by ovarian, uterine, cervical, and other forms of the disease.

Stony Brook University Medical Center's Division of Gynecologic Oncology provides comprehensive care for patients with ovarian, uterine, cervical, and all forms of gynecological cancers. Specialists within the Division collaborate with other cancer specialists from the Stony Brook University Cancer Center to provide inpatient and outpatient care.
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