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Vibrant works update outdoor sculpture exhibition

A dancer gives a joyful performance near UT Medical Center. And a family stands on the west side of Centennial Mall.

Ray Katz’s “Domino,” Gregory Mendez’s “Ellie” and Todd Kime’s “Profiling” are three of the eight new pieces installed for the 12th annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition.

Gregory Mendez’s “Ellie” dances near UT Medical Center.

It’s a springtime tradition: New artwork blooms at The University of Toledo.

“This is my favorite time of the year. I love when the new pieces arrive,” said Dr. Steve LeBlanc, interim dean of the College of Engineering and chair of the Campus Beautification Committee. “They certainly add to the beauty of of the campus.”

Three of the new works are by Mike Sohikian: “Male Flamenco” steps it up near the sidewalk on the north side of University and Gillham halls; “Figure With Large Bowl” walks on the east side of the Health and Human Services Building; and “The Veteran” stands resolutely on the west side of the Health Education Building on Main Campus.

Sohikian, a retired ironworker, has a reputation for creating beauty from scraps of steel.

“I had a lifetime of love and appreciation for art, but I didn’t begin my art career until 1995,” the Genoa, Ohio, resident said. “I assemble industrial materials and rework them into fascinating forms.”

Sam Soet’s “Cedar Walker Variations II” is perched in Ravin Plaza on Centennial Mall.

Sam Soet’s artful twist titled “Cedar Walker Variations II” sits in Ravin Plaza on Centennial Mall.

“I am at home outdoors in the woods. This is where I draw my inspiration from — the lines, shapes and movements influence the forms of my sculptures,” said Soet, who lives in Farwell, Mich. “I pride myself in working with materials that are sustainably sourced, essentially giving new life to a fallen tree or limb, or saving a log from a burn pile.”

This year’s last new work, “Three Tenors” by Ric Leichliter, will be installed this week near the Root Bridge, where North Tower Boulevard meets Stadium Drive.

“Profiling” by Todd Kime stands on the west side of Centennial Mall.

In addition, Sohikian’s “Reaching for the Moon” from last year’s exhibit still sits on the west side of Savage Arena.

And thanks to donor contributions and a partnership between the Campus Beautification Committee and the President’s Commission on the River, Tom Rudd’s 9-foot, 1,000-pound “Whitefish” is becoming a permanent part of UT’s collection and will continue swimming south of Carlson Library near the Ottawa River.

Nearly 230 artists submitted proposals to the Midwest Sculpture Initiative, and the UT Campus Beautification Committee reviewed the entries and selected pieces for this year’s exhibition.

Artists receive stipends for the sculptures, which will be on display for the next year.

Nearly 120 sculptures have rotated through the display at the University since the exhibit began, and 11 have become part of UT’s art collection thanks to the generosity of campus benefactors, colleges and departments, according to LeBlanc.

“Gifts from donors make the annual exhibition possible,” LeBlanc said. “If you like the sculptures, please consider a gift to the Campus Beautification Committee through the UT Foundation.”

Go to https://give2ut.utoledo.edu.

Student advocates for clean drinking water worldwide

Last month, 17 high school students from the Natural Science and Technology Center, a Toledo Public Schools Career Tech Program, came to the Chemical Engineering Unit-Ops Laboratory in Nitschke Hall to learn about water quality and purification systems.

Megan Davidson, a second-year chemical engineering student, taught the students about the engineering aspects of different water purification systems to get them started in thinking about how they can use both water and energy in a more responsible way.

Megan Davidson explained how a water purification system worked to local high school students who recently visited campus.

Davidson has been a strong advocate for water purification since starting at UT. Her interest was initially piqued when she went to Guatemala in 2015 to build a home for a family in need.

“I was warned not to drink the water or even eat any food that had been washed in the water because it could make me sick,” Davidson said. “The idea that people are getting diarrhea and are malnourished because of the water they drink always struck me as a great injustice.”

In her freshman orientation class, Davidson had the opportunity to learn about the ultraviolet water purification system made by Clean Water for the World and was surprised by the simplicity of the system. She then became involved with Walk for Water, an organization that raises money for water purification units and spreads awareness of the conditions of the water in developing countries.

This year, Davidson served as the educational outreach director for Walk for Water; she helped develop a lesson plan for seventh- and eighth-grade presentations, which covered a wide range of related topics.

“We wanted to tie in green energy to the presentations to give students more to think about and help them understand that all of the world’s resources are connected,” Davidson said. “We were able to reach out to about 1,200 students in 20 different schools.”

During spring break this year, Davidson was invited to go to El Salvador with a group of chemical and environmental engineering students to visit various communities and assess their water situation. They surveyed people’s overall health and their use of and accessibility to clean water.

If the community did not have a water purification unit, the UT students installed one of nine units they had brought and taught the people how it works and how to clean and replace parts as needed. For the communities that already had a unit, they recorded the maintenance of the system and took a list of needed parts to keep it operational.

“I was very excited to be able to see the units in action and to understand firsthand the impact they are making in peoples’ lives,” Davidson said. “It was fantastic to be able to see everything come full circle, from building and researching improvements that can be made to the units to fundraising through Walk for Water to finally installing the units and being able to talk to the people who are now able to drink clean water.”

Davidson is passionate about water purification projects and plans to stay involved with them in the future. She is considering spending time in Central America to address water problems after she graduates.

“I think it is important for people to understand that all waterways are connected. The water we have in the U.S. is clean and safe to drink because we have installed plants to treat water that is not safe,” Davidson said. “Not everyone is fortunate enough to have government-funded systems and are stuck drinking water with chemicals, viruses, bacteria and even feces in it every single day. If we care about others, and not just the people we see every day, but people we share water with across the world, we need to be aware that there are things we can do to help those in need.”

Professor emeritus of art honored at YWCA Milestones

While speaking with Diana Attie, professor emeritus of art, there is no doubt the passion she has for her profession — and for sharing her love of it with her students.

“Design is all around us everywhere — great design and bad — from Teslas to T-shirts. But real art engages our personal life experience, our senses, our deep yearnings and empathy — and do not count out humor, or even absurdity,” Attie said. “Seeing, judgment and discernment can be rewarding responsibilities. To see, not merely to look, is a cultivated art in itself. The powers of mindful observation are most acutely developed through the concentrated act of drawing. The process is like the scientific method: intense observations, a vision of an outcome, experimentation, revision, repeat, and repeat again and again. Make your first 5,000 mistakes and think nothing of investing those necessary 10,000 hours of rehearsals.”

Diana Attie, center, posed for a photo at the YWCA of Northwest Ohio’s Milestones Awards ceremony with some of her former students, from left, independent artist Helen Grubb, 2011 UT graduate; Hannah Lehmann, an art teacher at Ottawa Hills High School, who received degrees from UT in 2011 and 2015; Elyse Simpko, an adjunct instructor in UT’s Department of Art, and a 2008 and 2012 UT alumna; and Danielle Rante, associate professor of art and art history at Wright State University, who received two degrees from UT in 2003. Attie was recognized for her leadership in the arts; she was nominated for the honor by artist Leslie Adams, a 1989 UT alumna.

This year, Attie received the Milestones Award for her outstanding leadership qualities in the field of art from the YWCA of Northwest Ohio. She also is a former recipient of UT’s Outstanding Teacher Award.

Her visionary example has opened doors for other women to follow.

“The Milestones Award has been given to exemplary women in the fields of science, government, business and the arts for 23 years. Standing with these luminous women is an honor because I have enormous respect for their work, dedication and accomplishments,” she said.

Attie received a master of arts degree in painting and drawing from the Cleveland Institute of Art and Case Western Reserve University. In 1962, she began teaching in the Toledo Museum of Art/UT joint degree program in art and art history. She has taught a wide range of studio courses in the Department of Art, including her popular Anatomy/Life Drawing course.

“Truthfully, my inspiration comes from each and every woman teacher I have had, and I can name every one, starting from kindergarten,” Attie said. “Their differing personalities, teaching styles, idiosyncrasies, and special talents add up to an aggregate sum of one ‘super teacher.’ I thank them for my love of learning.

“I am, however, forever grateful to the indefatigable Mary Ryan, who was supervisor of art in the public schools, a mentor throughout my college years, and who made me realize my capabilities. From the Cleveland Institute of Art and Case Western Reserve University, the inspirational Professor Franny Taft held me spellbound with the dynamic delivery of her art history lectures. I remember my thinking as a student — ‘How can she possibly know so many intricate details?’ Perhaps that is why a major credo of my studio teaching has been ‘within every detail, there is a detail.’”

When asked how she strived to foster leadership in her students, Attie replied, “Whether young women or young men, it is most meaningful to find and do what you love, and love what you do. Listen and communicate clearly with others and in the arts particularly, receive and give critique in a constructive, positive light. Read — not just the art journals. Expand your inquiries into all manner of topics, especially science. Therein comes a freshness and cross-fertilization of ideas. Try to give 110 percent to what you want to do. Be relentless.”

For more information about YWCA of Northwest Ohio or Milestones Awards, visit ywcanwo.org.

New organization allows students to train service dogs

Animal companions can have an astounding benefit to the health of their human owners. Decreased stress and lower blood pressure are often observed through interaction with animals.

For many, however, the relationship they have with their four-legged companion can be life-changing. Persons with disabilities make up one of the largest minorities in the United States, and many of those affected have a service animal to help with daily tasks.

Anna Jones, Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence training manager, right, brought Penny, the dog on the right, and Potter, the puppy, to a Rocket Service Dogs meeting, where they met Summer Martin, graduate student in social work, left, and
Danielle Tscherne, graduate student in criminal justice and leader of the Rocket Service Dogs organization.

UT students now have the opportunity to learn more about the support these animals can provide through Rocket Service Dogs. The organization, which is partnered with Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence and the Ability Center of Greater Toledo, encourages students to become puppy sitters and potential service dog trainers.

Dr. Janet Hoy, associate professor in the School of Social Justice and adviser for Rocket Service Dogs, said the idea for the organization came after visiting the Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence training center in Sylvania.

“Service dogs can tremendously increase independence and quality of life for a person living with a disability,” Hoy said. “Unfortunately, there is often a long wait list before a service dog can be obtained. Through providing foster placements and training, Rocket Service Dogs can increase the numbers of service and therapy dogs available to be placed with individuals living with disabilities in the region.”

Through the partnership with Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence, students involved with Rocket Service Dogs will be provided with food, veterinary care and regular classes for their service dog trainees.

Hoy stressed the importance of regular training and socialization: “Service dog training would occur under the direction of an Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence trainer, and would entail attending regular classes and practicing in between to teach a service dog trainee basic commands and later more specialized tasks.

“Socialization of the service dog trainees in a wide variety of settings is also a key part of training; it is imperative that service dog trainees become comfortable out in public in places such as restaurants, stores, sport events, etc.,” she said. “Puppy sitters provide respite care and socialization for the service dog trainees when the primary caregiver/trainer is unable to do so.”

Those who feel they have time and love to give to a future service dog — and a strong interest in learning about dog behavior, human health and disability — are encouraged to reach out to Rocket Service Dogs.

More information on the organization, including upcoming meetings, can be found on its Facebook page, facebook.com/rocketservicedogs.

Student recognized by UTPD for helping lost dog

Miranda Dziobak, third-year biochemistry student, has received The University of Toledo Police Department challenge coin.

The UTPD challenge coin is given to citizens who go the extra mile to help someone in need.

It was a happy holiday for Gizmo, who was found by UT student Miranda Dziobak Dec. 24 and returned to the pet sitter.

On Dec. 24, Dziobak was driving home from her job at Helzberg Diamonds. She was taking Talmadge Road when she saw a strange dark lump in the street. After stopping her car to investigate, she found that it was a small, tan lap dog named Gizmo.

Dziobak attempted calling the number on the dog tag several times, but with no response. She took the dog home for a little while before deciding to take him to the UTPD.

“I honestly just didn’t know where else to take him besides the police station,” Dziobak said. “I really didn’t want to see him go to a shelter because he was seriously so sweet.”

UT Police Chief Jeff Newton shook hands with Miranda Dziobak, a student majoring in biochemistry, after presenting her with the UTPD challenge coin and certificate of appreciation for helping a lost dog named Gizmo.

With the help of UT Police Dispatcher Kendra Ries, Gizmo’s pet sitter, Dr. Paul Schaefer, associate professor and assistant dean for student affairs in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, was contacted.

“I can say that after a lot of panicked searching, hearing from the UT Police that they in fact had Gizmo and he was safe and sound was a moment of true grace,” Schaefer said. “The relief was tremendous as it very much felt like there was going to be a bad ending to this story.”

“We are so grateful that [Dziobak] stopped and saved our silly little dog,” owner Stephanie Scigliano said. “He’s always up for an adventure.”

Dziobak said she wanted to help the dog since she is a huge animal lover and did not want someone to hit him.

“It’s hard to say what the award means to me. I wasn’t expecting anything out of this,” Dziobak said. “I guess it’s nice because it means someone else cares about something that’s really important to me. It’s a restoring-my-faith-in-humanity kind of feeling.”

Ries was impressed with the concern Dziobak expressed over the welfare of the dog and the lengths she went to help.

“She is a breath of fresh air that put Gizmo’s safety and happiness first,” Ries said. “The University should be honored to have students like Ms. Dziobak and should praise her for her actions.”

Toledo Repertoire Theatre to feature play written by UT senior lecturer

Dr. Deborah M. Coulter-Harris has always been intrigued by a good mystery. When she came across the story of the biblical Queen of Sheba, she found herself fascinated by the myth and legend that surrounds her.

“I have relished discovering the many tales of her upbringing, her genetic ancestry, linguistic variations in her name, her cross-dressing, the extent of her empire, and her relations with human men. I believe Sheba could have been Pharaoh Hatshepsut, the first female pharaoh of Egypt,” said Coulter-Harris, senior lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literature.

Coulter-Harris

Coulter-Harris’ project on the queen began with a full-length academic study titled “The Queen of Sheba: Legends, Literature and Lore,” published in 2013 by McFarland Publishers. The book went on to receive worldwide distribution, and is now followed by a play, “Sheba Rules.”

“Of course, there are well-known tales of Sheba in the Bible, Qur’an and Kebra Negast, and all of these major tales have different stories about her,” Coulter-Harris said. “In my play, Sheba is a demigod who historically began the tradition of female demigods in classical literature, such as Medea, Niobe and Helen. She is the archetypal Amazonian warrior queen, who even dressed like a man when dealing with politicians and during public appearances.”

If theater-goers are looking for a play with a strong female lead and the ancient struggles of authority, land, gender and sexuality — and how these topics relate to the current political and cultural climate — they need look no further. Sheba’s road to becoming pharaoh and avoiding marriage is described by the Toledo Repertoire Theatre as “a juicy biographical extravaganza.”

Queen Sheba

“I have made her a ruthless, vengeful, ambitious, brave, skillful and brilliant queen who was single-minded in her duty to her empire and her citizens,” Coulter-Harris said of her protagonist. “I have written a violent play, but the reported murders in the play are symbolic of the feminine overthrowing and eliminating the threat of destructive masculine actions: female abuse, greed, and obsession with power.”

The Toledo Repertoire Theatre will host a staged reading of “Sheba Rules” as part of its “Toledo Voices” series, showcasing unproduced works by local playwrights.

The reading will take place Saturday, March 11, at 8 p.m. at the 10th Street Stage, 16 Tenth St., Toledo. After the play, the audience is invited to stay to talk with Coulter-Harris, the cast and director.

Tickets are $5 and may be purchased by calling 419.243.9277 or at toledorep.org.

Honors students to participate in service learning over spring break

Instead of heading to Miami Beach or the Bahamas for spring break, 20 Jesup Scott Honors College students will travel to Nicaragua and Guatemala to work with “dump dwellers.”

Dump dwellers are people who live in dumps and make their living by picking through the refuse and collecting plastic containers, recyclable materials and anything else they can sell.

The Jesup Scott Honors College has been working with the organization International Samaritan. The Ann Arbor-based philanthropic group works to raise awareness about dump dwellers and to improve conditions for those in the developing world, with a major focus in the Latin Central American countries.

“I am very excited to spend spring break doing service learning abroad,” said Ashley Diel, a third-year communication student. “I studied abroad last semester and am excited to be traveling again, as well as to have the opportunity to have a positive impact on someone’s life.”

Diel and her peers will leave Saturday, March 4.

The service-learning trips have been offered for the past eight years due to student interest, said Dr. Page Armstrong, associate lecturer and director of the Honors College Living and Learning Community. 

“We asked students what else they wanted to have in their honors experience, and one of the first things they said was that they would like to do more community service not just here, but abroad as well,” Armstrong said. “These trips really are student-directed.”

Students will work to improve local schools while in Nicaragua and Guatemala. In the past, students have helped to build kitchens, bathrooms and a nursery. They also will have the opportunity to teach in the classroom.

“It is a life-changing experience,” Armstrong said. “When most people come back, something in their life has changed.”

International Samaritan’s mission is to raise awareness in the United States about the living conditions of the poor in garbage dump communities in the developing world, and to help alleviate poverty in these areas by providing education, infrastructure and health care, among other things.

UT alumna leads public art project at Toledo Correctional Institution

Criminal justice reform is in the spotlight. Across partisan lines, public figures are talking about a need to reform criminal justice policy, especially sentencing and the prison population.

Standing in front of the mural painted by incarcerated participants was revealed were, from left, Matt Taylor, Emily Numbers, Yusuf Lateef and Rachel Richardson. The four, who worked together to make the project happen, spoke at a press conference when the work was revealed.

Standing in front of the mural painted by incarcerated participants was revealed were, from left, Matt Taylor, Emily Numbers, Yusuf Lateef and Rachel Richardson. The four, who worked together to make the project happen, spoke at a press conference when the work was revealed.

The United States holds 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but 22 percent of its prisoners, according to the Sentencing Project. Roughly 2.2 million people are incarcerated in prisons and jails — a 500 percent increase in the last 40 years — and the effects on children, families and neighborhoods are even farther-reaching. Poor people and people of color are disproportionately impacted. These circumstances, among others, have prompted conversations at the national level about the state of the U.S. criminal justice system.

Community artists, organizers and incarcerated people completed a public art piece inside the walls of Toledo Correctional Institution to contribute to that dialogue at the local level.

The project, a 6-foot-by-14-foot mural, was developed by community art coordinator Emily Numbers in collaboration with People for Change, Art Corner Toledo, and artists Matt Taylor and Yusuf Lateef. A public unveiling was held in November in the lobby of One Government Center.

People for Change is comprised of incarcerated individuals and UT faculty, students and alumni who organize educational initiatives inside the Toledo Correctional Institution. It is an alumni group of the national Inside/Out Prison Exchange Project, in which university students take a course inside a prison alongside incarcerated people. Other People for Change initiatives include workshops, community speakers and an academic library.

Numbers took the Inside/Out class as a UT student in 2013. Since then, she has been a part of the People for Change alumni group.

Incarcerated individuals worked on the mural at the Toledo Correctional Institution.

Incarcerated individuals worked on the mural at the Toledo Correctional Institution.

“The Inside/Out Prison Exchange Project opened my eyes to the talent, intellect and desire to make positive change that exists within prisons, and introduced me to the vast injustice that is mass incarceration in the U.S.,” she said.

Numbers, who became interested in the concept of art as a catalyst for social change as a law and social thought student at UT, designed the project to humanize the prison population and to promote civic dialogue on issues surrounding incarceration. The art was painted on a series of 21 2-foot canvasses due to limitations on materials allowed in the prison.

“I learned about the principles of community-based art in Thor Mednick’s Arts Diplomacy class at UT, in which we painted a mural with artist Dave Lowenstein and community members at the Frederick Douglass Center. The elements of dialogue, participation and collaboration were key aspects that I wanted to keep central to this project,” Numbers, communications and public relations specialist in the College of Engineering, said.

art-close-upTaylor, Lateef and Rachel Richardson, director of Art Corner Toledo, got involved when Numbers invited them to speak to the workshop group about their art in the community. After that initial meeting last spring, the three decided they wanted to continue their involvement with the project. Numbers’ vision and coordination, Taylor and Lateef’s expertise, Art Corner Toledo’s community connections, and the dedication of the incarcerated participants came together to result in this work of collaborative, community art.

Art Corner Toledo helped secure funding from the Lucas County Commissioners, who have a current focus on criminal justice. The Art Supply Depot and the UT Inside/Out Project in the College of Arts and Letters also provided support for materials and supplies.

Over several brainstorming sessions with the artists, organizers and incarcerated participants, the group arrived at the final design for the piece. The imagery was ultimately inspired by the sharing of poetry written by incarcerated individuals and represents the experience of incarceration and the aspirations of the group. Viewers’ perspectives place them at the bottom of a well, looking up toward a bright opening. Both flowers and weeds fill the bottom of the well, and one determined vine makes its way into the light. Several bees are included in the image, both coming and going from the viewer’s perspective.

“To the incarcerated participants, the well represents the physical limitations of the maximum security prison in which they reside, as well as the social barriers that may have led them to the circumstance of incarceration,” Numbers explained. “The flowers indicate the possibility for life and beauty to thrive in unexpected places, and the bees represent the exchange of ideas necessary for that hope to thrive. The bees can be interpreted as teachers, family members or volunteers, for instance, who refuse to turn a blind eye to the damages done by incarceration, and who refuse to turn their backs on individuals who will ultimately return to our community.”

The piece is accompanied by a collective poem written by the incarcerated participants, elaborating on the visual metaphor.

All of the incarcerated participants in this workshop have taken college-level courses through the UT Inside/Out Prison Exchange Project. Many of the discussions leading to the design were centered on the concept of education as the key to reaching post-incarceration aspirations.

Dr. Renee Heberle, professor of political science, brought the Inside/Out Prison Exchange Project to the University in 2010.

“Inside/Out and People for Change give UT students and incarcerated students a unique opportunity to engage and learn with individuals they might otherwise not only never meet, but would perhaps, otherwise, stigmatize and fear,” Heberle, coordinator of the program, said. “It has literally changed lives and career paths of students, on the inside and the outside. The innovative pedagogical model and ongoing opportunities for engagement beyond the classes cultivate democratic and collaborative skills as students confront issues related to social justice and create social change.

“This mural represents the underlying principles and values of Inside/Out in the collaborative process of its creation, while being a beautiful and aesthetically important work of art on its own terms.”

The art made its debut at One Government Center and is now hanging at the Lucas County Common Pleas Court. It will be installed in public spaces in Toledo. After completing its tour around the city, the work will be donated to a local organization selected by the participants.

“It is the intention of the incarcerated participants that this public art project will serve as a sign of hope for all viewers who may face barriers or confines of their own,” Numbers said.

“As the project travels around Toledo, it carries hope for the transformation of the criminal justice system, hope for incarcerated people seeking meaning and growth despite their circumstances, and hope for anyone facing conditions that confine, imprison or isolate.”

Physician warns cuddling while sleeping can get on your nerves

With winter here and the mercury dropping, you may be tempted to snuggle a little closer to your partner overnight. But one University of Toledo Medical Center physician warns your warm and snuggly sleep position could cause nerve problems.

Dr. Nabil Ebraheim, professor and chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, said a condition called radial nerve palsy could develop when the radial nerve is compressed near the elbow.

cuddlingThe radial nerve runs along the underside of the arm and controls the movement of the triceps muscle and is responsible for enabling extension of the wrist and fingers. It also controls sensation in part of the hand.

“Radial nerve palsy is often referred to as honeymoon palsy, due to the closer sleeping habits of newlyweds,” he said. “When your partner falls asleep while laying on your arm, the radial nerve and surrounding muscles are compressed, which can cause numbness and prolonged tingling in the fingers or even restrict movement in the hand or wrist.”

Wrist drop is a rare, but a disabling condition that causes paralysis of the muscles that normally raise the hand at the wrist and can make it difficult to move the hand or fingers.

Radial nerve palsy is treated by supporting the wrist with a brace or splint and through physical therapy that helps to maintain muscle strength and reduce contracture. The nerve usually recovers within a few weeks, but in some cases it could take four to six months. Extreme cases, including wrist drop, could require surgery.

Ebraheim said the best way to avoid developing these conditions is to re-evaluate the way you sleep.

“People should be mindful of their sleep position to reduce the risk of nerve injury,” Ebraheim said. “It’s best to avoid positions that place pressure on the upper arm either from snuggling up with a loved one or sleeping with your arm curled under your head.”

Pancreatic cancer survivor credits aggressive, unconventional treatment at UT in successful fight

Gerri Musser of Oregon, Ohio, didn’t think she would be around to celebrate Christmas and the New Year with her family.

“I am very lucky to be alive,” Musser, 62, said. “The odds were overwhelmingly against me.”

Dr. Changhu Chen and Gerri Musser posed for a photo in the Edge Radiosurgery Suite in UT Medical Center’s Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center. Under Chen’s care, Musser received a 10-day, high-dose, targeted radiation treatment for a tumor in her pancreas, liver, stomach and bile duct.

Dr. Changhu Chen and Gerri Musser posed for a photo in the Edge Radiosurgery Suite in UT Medical Center’s Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center. Under Chen’s care, Musser received a 10-day, high-dose, targeted radiation treatment for a tumor in her pancreas, liver, stomach and bile duct.

The day-care worker and great-grandmother of seven believed she was delivered a death sentence when doctors diagnosed her with pancreatic cancer in August 2015.

“You hear awful stories about how it’s too late when symptoms of pancreatic cancer surface — people died within weeks,” Musser said. “I was at stage IV when they found it. The shocking diagnosis sounded like instantaneous death. They gave me six months to live.”

Musser said her cancer journey started when she couldn’t keep any food down and lost 23 pounds in six weeks. She went to her family physician to find out why she was so sick.

“The ultrasound discovered a tumor the size of a cantaloupe in my pancreas,” Musser said. “I was immediately referred to the Dana Cancer Center at The University of Toledo to see a specialist.”

Surgical oncologists took her into surgery, but couldn’t remove the tumor because they discovered it also had spread to her liver, stomach and bile duct.

Dr. Changhu Chen, radiation oncologist at the Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center and professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology in the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences, said Musser had a less than 5 percent chance of survival.

“After the surgery, I told them three times, ‘I want to live, I want to live, I want to live,’” Musser said. “I will do whatever I have to do.”

The primary tumor in Musser’s pancreas continued to grow despite chemotherapy, so Chen and staff at the Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center guided Musser through what Chen calls “unconventional treatment.”

“This is an exceptional case,” Chen said. “She responded so well, you could call it a miracle.”

Musser underwent a 10-day, high-dose, targeted radiation treatment.

“We offered Gerri a 10-day course of high-dose, intensity-modulated radiation therapy using a technology called stereotactic radiosurgery,” Chen said. “Instead of the traditional treatment of low doses on a region of the body for 25 to 30 days, we focused specifically on Gerri’s tumor for 10 minutes a day for 10 days with more than double the dosage using our Edge Radiosurgery Suite. We have had this machine for more than two years and have extensive experience with this fast and safe treatment.”

“It was aggressive treatment, and I’m happy to say it worked,” Musser said. “Dr. Chen dropped an atomic bomb on that big tumor in my pancreas, and the tumor has resolved. I had no side effects. I’m in a remission state and check in with my doctors every other month to make sure it doesn’t come back.”

Chen said Musser’s tumor is the largest for which he has had success using this treatment for pancreatic cancer. This technique is normally used for tumors less than 2 inches in size.

“Pancreatic cancer is a very deadly disease,” Chen said. “There has been no big breakthrough in treatment, no discovery of a method for early detection. I am glad we had good results from a devastating diagnosis in Gerri’s case.”

Chen said the Dana Cancer Center has had many successful treatments for patients with cancers other than pancreatic cancer using expertise and technology in radiation therapy at UT.

Musser, whose hair is growing back, savored every minute celebrating Christmas with her husband, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“I had great doctors, and I’m feeling good about making a fresh start for the New Year,” Musser said. “It’s a long road. I’m not done yet. It’s something I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life. However, I am prepared to fight again because I’d like to see my great-grandchildren grow up.”