SOURCE: St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital

St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital

November 04, 2009 10:30 ET

"Laura's Journeys" Gives Away First Trips to Cancer Patients at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital

Program Encourages and Facilitates Therapeutic Recreational Travel for Cancer Patients

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - November 4, 2009) - Three cancer survivors won vacations during the inaugural raffle of get-aways on Thursday, October 29 at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital. The trips are being offered through " Laura's Journeys," a philanthropic program created by Bill Parness in loving memory of his wife Laura Parness, who passed away at the age of 54 after a courageous battle with breast cancer.

Evelyn Reynolds, 92, a two-time breast cancer survivor and resident of Manhattan, won a one-week Caribbean cruise for two, including airfare. Ms. Reynolds will travel to Grand Cayman Island and Cozumel, Mexico, among other stops, in January 2010.

Betsy Cornwall, 65, a colon cancer survivor and Manhattan resident, won a weekend trip to a bed and breakfast in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. Ms. Cornwall plans to make the trip this fall.

The third winner, a 39-year-old breast cancer patient from Queens who requested privacy, also won a one-week Caribbean cruise for two. She will be traveling in January.

"Laura's Journeys" is a program designed to encourage cancer patients and their significant others to travel, whether it is a weekend stay nearby or a week-long cruise. Mr. Parness plans to give away additional vacations in the spring of 2010.

"The rich rewards of travel that Laura and I experienced during the six years she was being treated for advanced breast cancer were incredible," said Mr. Parness, a resident of Aberdeen, N.J. "As hard as it might be to believe, thanks to our travels, those years were among the best in a long and very happy marriage. Beyond the joys experienced while on these trips, we both reveled in the preparation, which took our minds off medical issues and gave us something to look forward to. When we were away, Laura always felt great. To put it her own words: 'I felt like a normal person, not like someone battling a disease.' She came home refreshed and ready to tackle the next round of treatments."

Both Ms. Reynolds and Ms. Cornwall are patients of Gabriel A. Sara, M.D., Medical Director of Roosevelt's Chemotherapy Infusion Suite and Executive, and Director of the Patient Services Initiative at Continuum Cancer Centers of New York. Laura Parness was a patient of Dr. Sara, who is a strong advocate for therapeutic travel for his patients.

"Thanks to 'Laura's Journeys,' many patients will follow the path of living the dreams that Bill and Laura Parness mastered. I am thrilled to help launch this amazing project," said Dr. Sara.

The event included story-telling about traveling while undergoing treatment for cancer, as well as money-saving advice and useful travel tips such as finding a doctor who is supportive of travel, setting realistic expectations, taking out travel insurance policies that don't exclude pre-existing conditions, reaching out to airlines and front desks at hotels for special requests, and advising patients to always travel with a doctor's note.

For more travel tips or to donate, please visit

Established in 2009 in loving memory of Laura Parness, "Laura's Journeys" is a support program for cancer patients at Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan and other institutions within the Continuum Health Partners network. The program is specifically designed to encourage and facilitate recreational travel for the patient along with their spouse/partner or other family members/friends.