From Our Founder

Laurence J. Heifetz, MD, FACP
Laurence J. Heifetz, Founder of Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center

Welcome to our 2017 Fall edition of Tahoe Cancer News. This issue contains an overview of useful programs available here at the Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center. Keep it for your reference.

Clinical Trials

Being able to offer participation in national clinical trials provides cutting-edge research to our patients. Dr. Ahrin Koppel, our Director of Clinical Research, has provided an excellent explanation of the what, why, when and where of clinical trials and how it may be applicable to your situation.


Benchmarks that define quality are ubiquitous in society. We all key on them to help us feel secure that a product is safe and effective. The world of oncology provides those benchmarks as accreditations from multiple peer organizations. Being a small, rural oncology program, we are especially proud of these achievements. James McKenna, our Director, has recently joined our team. He has written a clear explanation of our accreditations and why they are important.

Our Art Experience

Much has been written about the healing properties of art. When we designed the cancer center we put together an “art jury” with two volunteers, Fritzi Briner and Ryrie Valdez, along with interior designer Joy Meeuwig and myself, the least qualified of the group. Our task was to try to figure out how to optimize the patients’ visual experience. In this issue, we will review how we picked the art. In the following issue, we will focus on the art and the artists.

Breast Surgery

The quality of our oncology program depends on many members of the Tahoe Forest Hospital medical staff who are independent of the Cancer Center. We are very lucky to have such a fine surgeon on staff as Dr. Ellen Cooper. She has eloquently described the process and role of breast surgery for you in this issue.

Suffering is Optional

The practice of mindfulness is an extremely useful tool for decreasing stress and thereby increasing your body’s own healing functions. Dr. Lynelle Tyler, one of our clinical psychologists, has described a new workshop for our patients entitled “Suffering is Optional.”  Read it and sign up!


Amy Noble gives you a reason to smile when you call or come in to the Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center. Get to know her a little better in the Smiles column.

I hope this newsletter continues to be helpful to you. Your feedback is greatly appreciated, so please feel free to reach out to us with any useful suggestions.

Laurence J. Heifetz, MD, FACP