Welcome to the Monica Warner Award
The Monica Warner award was established in 2009 by Novartis to commemorate the life and work of Monica Warner as a driving force in the neuroendocrine tumor (NET) community. As a nutritionist, Monica was dedicated to addressing the dietary needs of carcinoid patients. Her deep empathy for NET patients and her passion to serve the community throughout her lifetime made her a true everyday NET hero.
About Monica Warner
A pioneer in NET patient support
Monica Warner was a dedicated and passionate supporter of patients and caregivers throughout her lifetime. As a nutritionist, she worked closely with the NET community, engaging with patients, family caregivers, and physicians. Her deep empathy and passion to serve patients who have neuroendocrine tumors drove her to foster and organize lasting resources and support groups that continue to help people today. Monica served as Director of Development and Research Coordinator for the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation (CCF) in White Plains, New York. She was also a member of the foundation’s Board of Directors. Monica truly embodied what it means to be an everyday NET hero.
About the Award
A lasting tribute to Monica Warner
To commemorate the life and work of Monica Warner—who passed away in August 2009—Novartis Oncology established the Monica Warner Award. This award is presented annually by Novartis Oncology to honor the patient, supporter, or caregiver who most embodies the passion, dedication, leadership, and spirit with which Monica Warner assisted patients, caregivers, and families affected by NET. She was a person who inspired the NET community through her passionate involvement.
2019 Monica Warner Award Recipients: Pamela Ryan & Gil Schaenzle
Due to the number of extraordinary candidates, Novartis is pleased to announce that two individuals were selected to receive the 2019 Monica Warner Award for the award’s 10th anniversary. Both women exemplify the passion, dedication, leadership, and spirit with which Monica Warner assisted patients, caregivers, and families affected by NET.
Pamela (Pam) Ryan, BSN, RN, ONN-CG is an Oncology Nurse Navigator with the New Orleans Louisiana Neuroendocrine Tumor Specialists (NOLANETS) Clinic, who served as its manager at Ochsner Medical Center in Kenner, Louisiana for many years. During her 15-year tenure at NOLANETS, Pam's passion for serving the NET community has been shown in every interaction she has with her patients and staff. After the facility was incapacitated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Pam drove back and forth from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, 70 miles each way, to ensure that her patients received care. Pam was a vital part of building NOLANETs after the hurricane and was responsible for its overall growth by organizing the clinic, putting protocols in place, and scheduling appointments, scans, and surgeries for patients. She also voluntarily attended tumor boards after normal business hours to understand treatment plans for her patients, and helped patients find a place to stay during their appointments.
Pam has also been instrumental in improving the care of NET patients in Louisiana and throughout the country. Pam took the lead in the start-up of an Infusion Center, and she started many service lines involving complex treatment options for neuroendocrine tumors such as liver-directed therapy, MIBG (metaiodobenzylguanidine) therapy, and PRRT (peptide receptor radionuclide therapy). Pam also created the guidelines on neuroendocrine cancers for oncology nurse navigators, and she wrote the protocol on pre-workup for NET patients to ensure that they get the most out of their visit.
In addition to caring for NET patients, Pam has been a strong advocate for the NET community. She started the first Louisiana patient support group for NET and serves as its cohost, served as host and co-coordinator of 3 national NET patient conferences, and co-hosted a regional North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society (NANETS) professional conference. Pam speaks to patient support groups all over the country, and she is an invited guest speaker for many health care professional groups. Pam has spoken at several national meetings for professional organizations, and she leads the NET Cancer Day celebration in New Orleans to help raise awareness about neuroendocrine cancers and the need for timely detection and diagnosis.
In nominating Pam for the 2019 Monica Warner Award, colleagues at the NOLANETS clinic referred to her as the "mothership to the nurses.” Patients, who have navigated the many medical and mental aspects of having NETs, describe Pam as “a ray of sunshine on a bad day,” “the voice of calm,” and “a vital guide.” In short, Pam embodies the spirit of a great caregiver, nurse, educator and friend, and the NET community is truly stronger because of people like her.
Gil Schaenzle has persevered through personal tragedy as a NET caregiver to give back to the NET community in unique and extraordinary ways and has dedicated her life to spreading NET cancer awareness. She and her husband Fred lost their only daughter, Anna Rose, to neuroendocrine cancer in March 2017. Anna was a seemingly healthy college athlete when she was diagnosed and began a treatment path that ended with her passing just 9 months later at age 21.
During Anna’s treatment, she and Gil talked about their dream of running together in every US National Park, places where many family vacations had occurred. Nine months after Anna's death, on November 10, 2017 (NET Cancer Awareness Day), Gil began her journey to fulfill this dream at Mammoth Cave National Park, and 268 days later, on August 5, 2018, she finished her initial quest at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Wearing her trademark zebra-striped leggings and carrying Anna's favorite toy, "Teddy,” Gil braved temperatures below freezing to heat waves in the 100s, rain, ice, snow, and floods, and encountered several friends in nature such as alligators, bobcats, bears, elk, snakes and pigs. Since August 2018, Gil has racked up even more miles. To date, Gil has run, walked, or paddled 500 miles in 51 National Parks, 12 National Monuments and 2 National Preserves, while traveling over 50,000 miles around the United States. Along the way, NET patients and entire support groups came out to greet her, walk with her, and share their own stories. She also shared her personal story to raise awareness about NET cancer with national and local media outlets such as Megyn Kelly Today, CNN Headline News with MichaeLA, People Magazine, Good Day Colorado, and the Denver Post.
Today, Gil continues to serve the NET community in Denver by comforting out-of-town caregivers while their loved ones undergo surgery and treatments, and hosting recovering patients in her nearby home in Evergreen. She also organized an event with Aveda Centre Salon in Colorado to offer free haircuts and manicures to 16 NET patients and caregivers. Gil has been a champion of hope for the NET community despite suffering such a devastating loss, and she continues to look for more ways to engage with the NET community and beyond through her website, https://www.nationalparkmom.com/, blogs, personal relationships forged on her journey, support groups, and media outlets. Gil is also working on a children's book with "Teddy," who joined Gil on every adventure, and is writing an adult book about her journey in the National Parks, grief, and healing. Gil is an inspiration to the NET community and a deserving recipient of this award.
Past Recipients of the Monica Warner Award
Past recipients of the Monica Warner Award and the patient groups to which they donated their award money:
2018: Susan Meckler Sylvan—Healing NET Foundation
2017: Mitch Berger—Carcinoid Cancer Foundation, Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness Network, NET Research Foundation, and Healing NET Foundation
2016: Giovanna Joyce Imbesi—Los Angeles Carcinoid Neuroendocrine Cancer Tumor Society (LACNETS)
2015: Josh Mailman—Northern California (NorCal) CarciNET Community
2014: Grace Goldstein—Carcinoid Cancer Foundation (CCF)
2013: Jim Weiveris—New Jersey Carcinoid Cancer NETwork and CCF
2012: “Sunny” Susan L. Anderson—CCF
2011: Jan Naritomi-Hart—Support Education Awareness 4 (SEA4) Carcinoid
2010: Maryann Wahmann—Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness Network (NCAN) (formerly Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Network [NCAN])