Jul 15, 2020 11:00 AM

Author: Ashlee Bright, Communications and Public Affairs Director


Debby Rogers was a dynamic member of the Huntsman Cancer Institute Communications and Public Affairs Office. Debby died due to complications from cancer in December 2019. We thank her family for giving us permission to share the story of our friend and colleague.

The first time I spoke to Debby Rogers, I could tell she was a special person. Debby was applying for the public affairs manager job at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) and she radiated energy and expertise. During the interview, she shared that she had been recently diagnosed with cancer. Her experience as a patient at HCI drove her to want to tell the stories of people with cancer and of the research critical for improving the odds for people just like her.

Debby had a rare type of sarcoma called leiomyosarcoma. Sarcomas are cancers that occur in bones, muscles, cartilage, fat, tendons, and other connective tissues. Leiomyosarcoma is a soft-tissue sarcoma that affects smooth muscle in organs such as the uterus, where Debby’s cancer began. Experts don’t know what causes leiomyosarcoma.

Debby understood that cancer patients urgently hope for the gift of time—time in which scientists may discover the next advancement for their disease. She found that same urgency and compassion in HCI’s doctors and lab researchers. Members of HCI’s Sarcoma Disease Center study what causes these cancers and work on developing more effective treatments.

“While treatment of sarcoma has improved over the years, we have much more to do in terms of treating these cancers and taking care of the people who have them,” says John Groundland, MD, a musculoskeletal surgeon at HCI who treats sarcoma.

Debby was on staff for just two years before she passed away, but in that time she cultivated many friendships, built trust, and found inspiring stories about patients and the people at HCI working to eradicate cancer. In addition to visiting the cancer hospital for appointments and treatments like surgery and chemotherapy, she was a regular at the HCI Wellness and Integrative Health Center for acupuncture and massage. She loved pet therapy visits and services like Huntsman at Home.

While we deeply miss our friend and colleague, we are grateful for the memories we have of her and for the honor and privilege of being her work family.

hci comms and public affairs team at lunch
HCI's Communications and Public Affairs team lunch in 2019

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