Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute receives gift, renames center.

From left, Brian Nester, Dr. Suresh Nair, Maureen and Joe Topper, – Cris Collingwood

Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute was renamed the Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute today after Joe and Maureen Topper gave the facility a “generous” gift.

Maureen Topper is a breast cancer survivor and her care close to home made the Topper’s want to give back to the organization.

During a press conference attended by about 50 cancer patients and their families, Brian A. Nester, president and CEO of Lehigh Valley Health Network, said the gift will be used to bring innovative and lifesaving clinical trials to the region.

“The field of oncology is rapidly evolving, and the clinicians in our cancer program are dedicated to providing our patients the highest-level care within our community. Since 2016, we have been a member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance, which has enhanced our ability to provide state-of-the-art cancer treatments,” Nester said.

Doctors, nurses and staff filled the staircase and upper decks of the atrium where the press conference was held. A new banner was unrolled and the staff waved purple towels to celebrate the renaming.

The Toppers requested the amount of their gift to remain undisclosed. Speaking to the gathering this morning, Maureen Topper said she felt connected to the cancer team immediately. “I was very confident the plan here was a good one for us. The positive, supportive manner made me feel I was going to be OK,” she said.

“Our gift will help get the word out about the cancer institute and through support and growth, it will make it better than it is,” she said.

Nester said since receiving the gift, recruitment of new staff and clinical trials are already underway. “The gift will complement network investments in advanced cancer treatments and technologies, including stem cell transplantation and cellular therapies.”

In addition, he said, the gift will serve as a permanent source of funding for Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute to attract, recruit and retain the best and brightest physicians, nurses and staff.

“At Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute, we aren’t just treating cancer – we are caring for people,” said Dr. Suresh Nair, physician in chief of the institute. “Our focus is on the individual, not only their disease. We strive to offer our patients the best treatment options for their specific diagnoses so they can continue their lives and reach milestones they didn’t think were possible.”

The cancer center, in its fifth year, is one of three cancer centers int the country participating in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance, which provides patients with treatment in their communities.

Every Ribbon Counts finds new ways to support cancer patients during pandemic

Every Ribbon Counts, a Nazareth-based charity dedicated to supporting cancer patients, has had to find new ways to raise support during the pandemic, which has shut down in-person fundraising events.

“We’ve had to find different ways to bring the community together,” said communications coordinator Josh Rultenberg. “There are more zoom meetings, more skype calls.”

– “There are more zoom meetings, more skype calls…”-Josh Rultenberg, communications coordinator, Every Ribbon Counts, pictured in his former role as on air reporter at WFMZ-TV 69 news. -PHOTO/SUBMITTED

Rultenberg, a former reporter for WFMZ-TV 69 news in Allentown, who is volunteering his time with ERC, said the non-profit’s focus is less on bringing money in right now and more on helping people during the pandemic.

“Cancer takes all of your resources, emotionally, physically and financially,” he said. “Cancer patients need help now more than ever.”

Every Ribbon Counts was founded by Abby Silfies, executive director of the Lehigh Valley branch of the American Heart Association, and Susan Bostian, a doctor of integrative health and nutrition, in 2019. “We agreed that now is the time to act on this,” said Bostian. “We hope that Josh’s talents dedicated to our online presence will help share our vision in a consistent, impactful, way.”

“Our online platform is now more important than ever and the ability to lend virtual support to our audience is now a necessity,” said Silfies.

ERC founders Abby Silfies, left, and Susan Bostian, right, say that the foundation’s online presence is now more important than ever -PHOTO/SUBMITTED

Bostian, Silfies and Rultenberg have collaborated on three new online segments to expand online support- “Mission Mondays,” wherein stories of the importance of cancer-funding are shared every Monday, “Who Are We Wednesdays,” which highlights those who directly benefit the foundation or who are battling cancer themselves, and “Fit Fridays,” in which local companies share ways to stay healthy.

Rultenberg will be writing the three online segments.

“This is about helping the everyday person in their battle,” he said. “I’m excited to tell these important stories.”

One story Rultenberg will be sharing is that of Michael Ziemian, a single father from Nazareth who lost his wife to cancer on Christmas Day in 2018. Ziemian was helped by the ERC, and is now a dedicated volunteer.

“If you are going through cancer yourself or are just a volunteer with a big heart, we want to hear your story,” Rultenberg said.

For more information on Every Ribbon Counts, email [email protected] or visit the ERC website at www.everyribboncounts.com


Complaint: B.Braun exposed neighbors to cancer risk

A class-action lawsuit alleges people living near Allentown’s B.Braun Medical Inc., plant were exposed to large amounts of harmful ethylene oxide gas, putting them at a higher risk of cancer than average.


The suit, filed on behalf of Mourad Abdelaziz and others by Morgan & Morgan, a Philadelphia-based law firm, accuses the medical equipment manufacturer of releasing the colorless, odorless gas from its plant at 901 Marcon Blvd. over several decades. The complaint says those exposed to the gas could be 18 times more likely to develop cancer than the average American.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies ethylene oxide as a carcinogen.

B.Braun’s plant uses large volumes of the gas to sterilize medical equipment, according to the complaint. The gas is then released into the air.

B.Braun could not be reached for comment.

The plaintiffs, who are demanding a jury trial, are seeking compensatory damages, including the cost of a program for medical monitoring and health screenings.

Reading Hospital installs new cancer treatment tool

A new cancer treatment tool which employs magnetic resonance imaging to treat tumors is now in use at the McGlinn Cancer Institute at Reading Hospital.

The MRIdian MRI-Guided Linear Accelerator was first installed in August and Reading Hospital patients began receiving treatment with it in December 2019, according to Tower Health, the parent health network of Reading Hospital.

A ribbon cutting for the new tool was held on Jan. 16 with Clint Matthews, president and CEO of Tower Health, and Dr. Erik Rupard, chief of hematology and oncology at Reading Hospital, presiding over the event.

The MRI Linear Accelerator combines two pieces of equipment into one, according to Tower Health. The tool allows physicians to conduct a patient’s radiation therapy treatment while simultaneously looking at a real-time image of the tumor through MRI.

The system is designed to minimize exposure of healthy tissue to radiation when a tumor is in a hard-to-reach location within the body or near critical organs such as the heart, lungs, and upper abdomen.

“This technology is unlike any other radiation option available today, including proton therapy,” said Dr. Michael L. Haas, chief of radiation oncology at Reading Hospital. “It allows us to see the tumor while we treat it and deliver a less invasive, and often more precise and accurate radiation treatment.”

Haas said that if the tumor being treated or a body organ moves beyond the boundary set by the physician, the radiation beam automatically pauses. When the target moves back into the predefined boundaries, treatment automatically resumes.

Salon geared toward cancer survivors to open in Allentown

Naylin Rivera, who will be opening Style With Care in October in Allentown, fits a wig on Joann Butz, who is undergoing medical treatment and suffering hair loss. –

Naylin and Eddie Rivera want to help people who have lost their hair feel better about themselves.

The couple’s new hair salon Style With Care is unique because of Naylin Rivera’s training as a nurse and cosmetologist. She will run the salon, specializing in wig and hairpiece fittings, repair and care, for clients suffering from baldness, whether caused by medical treatments, drug side effects, disease progression or heredity.

“For the past few years I’ve been dealing with more and more friends and family members dealing with medical treatments [for hair loss issues] and the demand is growing every day,” said Rivera, a Bayada Home Health Care pediatrics nurse and licensed cosmetologist.

Rivera has been a nurse since 2008, and a cosmetologist since 2001.

According to WebMD.com about 40 percent of women have visible hair loss by the time they are 40.

Hair loss and baldness – whether male, female, young or old, can have a devastating effect on emotional, social and mental health.


“The American Hair Loss Association recognizes that hair loss in women is a serious life-altering condition that can no longer be ignored,” the WebMD website said.

Style With Care will occupy the former Allentown Geoff Gutgold Advertising building, located at 1809 W. Allen St. The Riveras bought the property, and they are renovating it with a planned October opening.

Jeffrey Barber, president of Lehigh Valley Financial Group LLC in Allentown arranged a Small Business Administration loan to fund the start-up business.

Barber said the Rivera’s niche project was a good fit for his commercial lending client, WSFS Bank (We Stand for Service) in Wayne, Montgomery County.


Candice Caruso of WSFS Bank said the project appealed to her firm because the services will be targeted as well as “inclusive” to the general public.

“Anyone who wants to support the Rivera’s mission can patronize their salon,” Caruso said.

She is vice president and director of government guaranteed lending for WSFS Bank.


“What is really exciting about this opportunity is [for the Riveras] to provide aesthetics to their customers and help individuals with their confidence,” Caruso said.

Barber said Rivera’s unique hands-on expertise, a combined medical and cosmetology background and the couple’s commitment to purchase the building for their business were positive points in their application process.

“They have an important audience to serve. Cancer patient survivors have specific needs,” Caruso said.

She said the loan due diligence process showed the Riveras thoughtfully created their marketing and business plans, assessed their competitive landscape and brought skills to their project which will set them apart.

“She [Naylin Rivera] brings an advantage. She’s created her marketing plan and is leveraging relationships she’s built over the years,” Caruso said.

The Small Business Administration program is focused on making sure eligible businesses have a solid analysis of the competition, their demographics and location and beyond those elements how they’ll execute their plan, Caruso said.

Style With Care will have two private wig fitting and styling rooms by appointment. Wig and hairpiece repair will also be available on the premises.

Hair services will be available to the general public.

Rivera said Style With Care’s lightweight, natural looking wigs aim to help improve self image and bolster self-esteem during a particularly difficult time for many suffering from hair loss.

Both human hair and synthetic wigs will be offered, and custom wig work will also be available to customers, Rivera said.

The cost for a full woman’s wig ranges from $300 to $2,000, depending upon length and quality, Rivera said.

For a lot of people undergoing treatment for hair loss, thinning hair or baldness impacts self esteem, how they look and feel in front of others and how comfortable they may be in front of others. “They feel undressed if they’re seen without hair. “It really is about self-image and confidence,” Rivera said.

She said as well as cancer treatments, hereditary and various medications – especially those aimed at treating women’s health issues, can cause enough hair loss to require a wig.

“People have scares from cancer treatments, some have major scarring,” which may make them more self-conscious about their looks, Rivera said.