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Just a few years ago Nancy Hughes could lift mountains of paperwork, rearrange office furniture and stand on her feet for hours at a time. As executive assistant at the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, the petite fiery redhead put in long hours at her job helping give state employees a voice in government.
Back in 2003, Nancy learned she had breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy, rounds of chemotherapy and the cancer went into remission. In 2014, however, it came back with a vengeance.
“I first noticed something was wrong when I bent over to pick up something,” she said. “I felt something pull, and had trouble walking. After about a month I went to a chiropractor about my back. He took x-rays, and they showed either severe osteoporosis or the cancer was back and in my bones.”
A trip to her oncologist revealed the cancer had indeed spread.
“I had no idea breast cancer could come back like that,” Nancy said. “This time I was scared. During the time I was cancer-free, I had been participating in the Oklahoma American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, and the Relay For Life. I liked being a beacon of hope for others that this disease could be beat.”
So once again she began the treatments, hoping for a positive result.
“This time it was radiation to my hip, spine and right arm,” she said. “It helped with the pain I was having but I do not remember much about that time. I lost control of my body functions, could barely walk and did not eat much. My employer offered me six months of leave to keep my insurance and then social security kicked in, so I took it. I could no longer do my job and was actually a liability to them.”
More than four years after her cancer re-occurrence, the disease has been relentless.
“When it came back, it had spread throughout my bones,” Nancy said. “My right arm fractured, and I had to wear a brace for two years to keep it stable. The bone was almost clear and looked like Swiss cheese. I had the option of getting surgery to put a rod in to stabilize it, but there was a possibility I could lose all the use of that arm. Even having limited use was better than losing it all, so I chose to not have the surgery.”
Using the services offered at the Oklahoma American Cancer Society has been a godsend, Nancy says. The organization offers wigs, scarves, and turbans, all free of charge to cancer patients. They also provide free rides to and from treatment in the Road to Recovery Program.
“Helping people like Nancy is at the heart of what we do every day,” said Jennifer Redman, OKACS program manager. “Not only do we have an entire wig room, but transportation is consistently named as one of the top needs for cancer patients. Our volunteer driver program ensures patients complete their treatment and we can increase the number of cancer survivors. We always need more volunteer drivers and have our own fleet of vehicles. So if you have some time to volunteer, we can always use the help.”
While each day is a struggle, Nancy refuses to let the disease dampen the positive attitude that has carried her through life.
“When I wake up every morning, it is a gift of life,” she said. “I could choose to wallow in pity and feel sorry for myself, but what does that do? I choose to enjoy each day and hope a cure will be found in my lifetime. Sometimes the dark side will come through. Like a day or so ago I realized once my hair is gone this time, I will most likely be bald the rest of my life. That sucks. But I must play the cards I am dealt, so I will save a few bucks on shampoo and conditioner! It’s all about re-framing the negatives and finding the positives.”
Nancy says her family is her foundation. Her husband Mike, their two daughters and four grandsons all pitch in to make life as normal as possible. And throughout her journey, she continually finds new ways to reinvent herself and help others.
“Sharing my story with the Oklahoma American Cancer Society and others is so important,” Nancy said. “I want everyone to know the big ‘C’ word is not always a death sentence. It does not always return like it did for me. Stay hopeful, happy and enjoy what you can. Don’t dwell on the horrible parts, just try to look for the good in everything. Believe me, it is there.”

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Satish Srinivasan, Ph.D.

Scientists at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation have broken new ground in understanding how the lymphatic system works, potentially opening the door for future therapies.
The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and lymph nodes that spans the entire body. It is critical for good health and for the body to function properly. Defects in lymphatic vessels cause lymphedema, a disease characterized by dramatic and painful swelling in the limbs that often leads to infections.
Lymphedema can result from congenital mutations, surgery, radiation treatment for cancer or infection, and there is currently no cure. In addition to lymphedema, defects in the lymphatic system have been linked to a wide range of health consequences: cancer, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and obesity.
Sathish Srinivasan, Ph.D., and Boksik Cha, Ph.D., at OMRF previously discovered that a particular pathway—known as the Wnt signaling pathway—regulates the development of the human lymphatic vascular system. In new research, published in the journal Cell Reports, they’ve found “the nuts and bolts of this important pathway.”
“We have identified the signaling molecules that activate this pathway,” said Srinivasan. “We also have learned which cells produce the signaling molecules, how they are sensed by the cells and how they are used in lymphatic development.”
Srinivasan was recruited to OMRF from St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in 2013. His lab at OMRF has already identified several target genes for lymphedema. Srinivasan said that, after further study, this new information could eventually help researchers develop better therapeutic options for lymphedema and associated disorders.
“This signaling pathway has proved difficult to study, because it is complex and so little is known about how it functions normally, let alone when it goes wrong,” said Srinivasan. “Wnt signaling is aggravated and increased in breast cancer and colon cancer, but it is deregulated in diseases like Alzheimer’s and lymphedema.”
Srinivasan said drug companies are interested in finding molecules that can be targeted, either to promote or inhibit Wnt signaling, depending on the disease. “Our goal is to find whether such drugs could be used to treat humans with lymphedema and see if their disease can be managed, made less severe or even cured,” he said.
Other OMRF researchers who contributed to this research were Xin Geng, Ph.D., Riaj Mahamud, Lijuan Chen and Lorin Olson, Ph.D.

Claire Dowers-Nichols is the Executive Director of Healthy Living and Fitness, Inc. Here, you will be greeted by a friendly staff and a variety of classes to choose from.

by Vickie Jenkins, Staff Writer

Welcome to Healthy Living and Fitness, (Healthy Living OKC) where their vision is to provide state-of-the-art health and wellness services, empowering adults to become avid health consumers responsible for their well-being and fulfillment of their personal goals.
I spoke with Claire Dowers-Nichols, Executive Director. Claire spent her career developing programs to better service older Oklahomans. Most recently, she spent seven years at the University Of Oklahoma Department Of Geriatrics Medicine; she co-founded the Community Relations Director for the Oklahoman Department of Human Services, Aging Services. Claire serves in a variety of leadership and advisory roles for state and national organizations and is devoted to making her community an ideal place for active adults.
“We are the first Healthy Living and Fitness Center in Oklahoma City as far as being a MAPS 3 project. We have been here at this location for about 18 months,” Claire said. “The next location to build one will be in south Oklahoma City. OK. We actually have about 5,275 members now and about 630 of them visit our center every day. The growth in numbers of people has grown so fast. It is amazing! It was an answered need for seniors to have a place like this. We couldn’t be more thrilled!”
I was curious to know why Claire left her job to come work here. She replied with a positive answer. “This is definitely where I want to be. Love it! I have always been interested in the aging process. Now, it seems like aging is such an important part of life. One goal is to make aging sexy! Everyone wants to stay healthy with their diet and exercise. This is just a way of helping things along. Aging is such a wonderful process; it’s a form of self-expression now. Why, we have a member that is 100 years old and she is in better shape than me,” Claire said with a laugh.
The mission at Healthy Fitness and Living is to provide a facility and programming that will improve the physical and emotional wellness of northwest Oklahoma City adults with programs that help adults connect and provide a community through social wellness activities and initiatives, to provide access to professional and recreational physical fitness activities, to provide education and support on current adult related issues, to offer wellness coaching and social programming that will nurture emotional health and to reverse current poor health statistics.
“Let me tell you a little more about Healthy Living and Fitness,” Claire said. “Members are accepted if they are 50 years and older. We offer a variety of classes; the latest and greatest exercise equipment, fitness classes, water aerobics, guitar lessons, ukulele lessons, line dancing, arts and crafts, jewelry making, ballet, belly dancing, Tai Chi, yoga, Zumba, creative writing, drama class…we have just about anything you would want! We also have pool tables, and large rooms that can be rented out for special occasions. There’s even a group that meets each week with someone explaining how to keep up with your grandchildren by learning to use an iPhone. There are 9 different fitness instructors that rotate their schedules. The hours for Healthy Fitness and Living, Inc. are Monday through Thursday 5:30 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Friday, 5:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m. and Saturday 7:30a.m.-4:00 p.m. We are closed on Sundays. Membership cost is $30.00 a month single, $50.00 a month for couples. No annual contract. Payment can be made month to month. Most of our members really like that part,” Claire said.
What is your favorite part of your job? I ask Claire. “I really enjoy the art programs that we have here. When I see the members doing their art work, it is very special. It’s also very therapeutic too. It doesn’t matter if you are with a group of old friends, or a group of new friends, it is good for all; it’s just another way of socializing.”
Claire does a little bit of everything at work. One of her challenges is keeping up with the growing number of members. “It’s a good challenge though, definitely not a problem,” she said with a smile. We try to have at least 4 special events throughout the year.” (Car shows, special events). “Our members come here for several different reasons. Diet and exercise, socializing with others, to lose weight and learn how to eat the right way, to relieve stress, and just to have FUN,” Claire comments.
Who knows…maybe it’s time for ME to take those guitar lessons.

Ronnie Backman is nominated by her Great-Niece, Nancy. Submission: I want to nominate my Auntie Ronnie. Over the years, my Auntie has been more like a mother to me. My mom passed away when I was young, and Ronnie never once hesitated to comfort me or lend a motherly hand. I still remember going shopping with her for my prom dress, and now she’s a grandmother to my baby boy William. I don’t know what I would have done without her, she fills my heart. I love my living legend.

“Honor Your Living Legend” designed to showcase seniors and impressive contributions to loved ones and communities

Harrold is nominated by his Granddaughter, Sara. Submission: My “Poppi” is a man of values, conviction, humility, and Grace. As a Veteran, he served our country proudly. As a husband, he loved unselfishly. As an entrepreneur, he was a visionary. As a father, he leads by example. As a community member, he is giving of his time and talents. As a Grandfather and Great Grandfather, he delights in the joy of children. As an older adult, he finds purpose in every day. And as a Man of God, he is grateful. My Poppi is my “Living Legend”.

story and photos submitted

Home Care Assistance, Edmond/Oklahoma City’s premier provider of in-home care for seniors, is pleased to introduce a campaign that recognizes the lifetime accomplishments of seniors. Family members and friends submit stories and photographs, which are shared publicly on and through Home Care Assistance’s social media pages. The goal of the campaign is to give people a platform to express their admiration for aging loved ones and in doing so, remind the community that older adults should be respected for their contributions.
With a mission to change the way the world ages, Home Care Assistance fosters a positive view of aging and honors each client’s lifetime legacy by providing compassionate and dignified care that enables older adults to maintain their independence at home.
“Honor Your Living Legend is our way to celebrate the legendary lives of our clients and seniors at large,” said Melissa Hill, Co-Owner of Home Care Assistance of Oklahoma. “Our mission is to change the way the world ages by promoting aging as a rich and meaningful stage of life, and this campaign is just one of the many ways we accomplish this. Older adults boast many years’ worth of accomplishments, relationships, experiences and memories. We seek to respect and honor them by shifting the focus away from their care needs and towards the legacies they’ve created.”
Candidates for Honor Your Living Legend are dynamic individuals who have given a lifetime of service and love to their communities and families. Living Legends can be publicly acclaimed or individuals who have influenced others’ lives in less high-profile ways such as a mother who taught her children to read or a well-known entrepreneur whose real passion was volunteering and helping those less privileged.
For more information about Honor Your Living Legend or to submit a story, please visit
Home Care Assistance is the leading provider of home care for seniors across the United States, Canada and Australia. Our mission is to change the way the world ages. We provide older adults with quality care that enables them to live happier, healthier lives at home. Our services are distinguished by the caliber of our caregivers, the responsiveness of our staff and our expertise in home care. We embrace a positive, balanced approach to aging centered on the evolving needs of older adults. For more information on Home Care Assistance of Oklahoma, visit

Lewis Perkins, RN, BSN, MSN, DNP.

Lewis Perkins, RN, BSN, MSN, DNP is named Chief Nursing Officer for INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center and it’s affiliated entities.
Lewis is currently the System Vice President of Nursing at Norton Healthcare in Louisville, Kentucky where he has worked since 2011.
Lewis has an incredible career in nursing leadership with significant MAGNET experience, he serves on the APRN Practice Committee for the Kentucky Board of Nursing and brings a wealth of nursing leadership experiences and innovative ideas to the table.
Lewis will begin his duties at INTEGRIS on Oct. 1. He and his wife (also a nurse) have a son in college and a son in high school who will be re-locating to Oklahoma City at the end of the school year.

Senior Programs Manager Lisa Sydnor recently retired from the Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Area Command after 50 years in non-profit service.

by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer

Lisa Sydnor’s family has a pool going.
As her third retirement begins this month, many of her family members are betting this one will last about as long as the others have.
“I think I was not meant to ever stop … I can’t do nothing,” Sydnor laughed. “I don’t do that well. I’m not a big TV person and I definitely don’t do daytime soaps and game shows. I like to read and I like movies but that gets boring. You can only rearrange your drawers and closets so many times.”
For the past 50 years Sydnor, most recently the senior programs manager for the Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Area command, has been helping people put their lives together.
Whether it’s raising funds or raising families up when they have no place to go, Sydnor has devoted her life to helping others.
“It’s really not about me but about God providing the opportunity to be the conduit,” Sydnor said in her final week. “It hurts my heart and I’m going to miss it terribly but I am tired and it takes lots of energy to do that job. I just don’t have it every day.”
“I’m looking for great things to happen … and I know they’ll take great care of our seniors.”
More than 50 years of Sydnor’s life have been spent in the non-profit world.
She started with the Oklahoma Museums Association in the mid 1970s doing a little bit of everything.
“I was the secretary/bookkeeper/go-to-gal,” Sydnor said.
Her boss gave her the ideas and she was expected to run with them. It was rewarding and Sydnor embraced her autonomy and her mistakes.
“I learned a lot about what not to do and how to do it better,” she said. “I had a really great experience so I thought I was going to stick with this and see where it goes.”
Fortune smiled on her and she began 10 years with the YMCA in fundraising. From there, Oklahoma City University was her new home under Dr. Jerald C. Walker.
“He was convinced we could raise money for anything and because he was convinced that we could we did,” said Sydnor, who managed the many of the university campaigns.
From there the American Red Cross came calling. She was there nearly another decade.
She started out as a chapter solutions manager. It was a title she wasn’t quite sure of.
“My boss said it was a brand new position and this is what we want the end result to be but we don’t quite know how to get there,” she said.
There were another 25 employees just like her across the country in the late 1990s.
Helping mom and pop Red Cross Chapters consolidate and work together was part of her job. She met resistance but still had fun.
She took her skills to Montana and Wyoming and worked her magic again, helping the Red Cross become efficient.
“That was an amazing five years,” Sydnor said. “I had some amazing experiences and we also did disaster fundraising. It was a really crazy time but we had some amazing fundraisers and we always met our goal.”
Sydnor found her herself getting all the credit for the successful fundraisers after disasters.
“It was one of those things were you picked the people and sent them to do what they did best,” she said. “That was one of the most amazing times.”
A year in Dallas and three years at another company and one month of retirement bridged her gap to Salvation Army.
“The Salvation Army has given me … the icing on the cake,” Sydnor said. “I got to help so many people and it was just blessed by God. It seemed like every time we wanted to do something we were able to do it because we got the money and we could serve people.
“I couldn’t have imagined six years ago that I would have the incredible experience I’ve had there.”
Co-workers say she’ll be missed.
“Lisa is soft spoken yet strong willed,” said Keri Griffin, Salvation Army food services manager. “She is a woman of integrity who stands firm on her word. She will confront any and every situation or hardship until the job is finished and everyone around her is satisfied.
“She will definitely be missed here at The Salvation Army but I know her job is not yet done.”
Her tireless effort will be remembered.
“My first impression of Lisa was her heart for the senior population,” said Diane Maguire, senior center coordinator for the North District. “I saw first-hand how that played out every day in her life…she loved them and everything she did was motivated by this love and care.”

Financial scams continue to target seniors due to scammers thinking that seniors have a significant amount of money just sitting in their accounts. Unfortunately, financial scams go unreported due to embarrassment and can be difficult to prosecute which leave seniors vulnerable with little time to recoup their losses.
To help prevent you from getting tricked into a scam, we have outlined below what a scammer is and what to do to avoid being scammed.

A scammer is the ultimate salesperson with a tempting offer or a skilled liar with a plausible story
* Easily pinpoints a victim’s vulnerabilities and appeals to emotions: sympathy, fear, loneliness * Quickly gains trust * Insist on secrecy * Shows no mercy, e.g., doesn’t take “no” for an answer

Know the Red Flags of a Scam
* Immediate action required * Insistence on secrecy * Money needed up front * Hard-to-track payment methods

Build Your Scam Defenses
* Do not be rushed into any financial decision * Assume that insistence on secrecy is a ploy to deceive you * Be suspicious of any situation that requires you to send money up front * Confirm all stories, offers or charities independently * Be very cautious about clicking on email links

Block Those Scammers
* Register with National Do Not Call Registry at to limit legitimate telemarketing phone calls, making phone scams easier to detect * Register with to limit legitimate advertising mail, making mail scams easier to detect * Limit personal information on social media and choose the strictest privacy settings on social media accounts * Use antivirus software on your computer

What to Do If You Are Scammed
* Don’t be embarrassed or afraid * Tell someone you trust * Report the scam to your bank immediately to limit losses * Contact your local police and federal agencies, like the Federal Trade Commission
For more information, visit

COOP Ale Works is brewing up big plans for the 23rd Street Armory which housed the 45th Infantry Division.

Bobby Anderson
Staff Writer

A piece of national history right here in Oklahoma City will soon be repurposed as the 23rd Street Armory is brought to life once again.
The home to Oklahoma’s National Guard for decades, the building will soon be revitalized by new owners COOP Ale Works.
The Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) recently accepted the company’s proposal to acquire and redevelop the armory, which includes restoring the building and creating a unique experience.
“Oklahoma City is our home and we always wanted to return to the core of the city. In planning for a final home for the brewery, we wanted to find a place that is meaningful to our town and state, and gives us an opportunity to create an incredible experience,” said Daniel Mercer, co-founder of COOP Ale Works. “The Armory, with its unique history, structure and space, is the perfect fit and we believe it will become a venue that attracts visitors from across the state, country and world.”
Under COOP’s proposal, the 87,000-plus-square-foot building will be purchased from the state for $600,000 and returned to its former glory with updates to the interior functionality. The exterior will be maintained to honor its unique history with modern refreshes, including updated windows, while the inside will be transformed into a bustling brewery production floor, full-service restaurant, 22-room boutique hotel, multiple event spaces, offices and meeting rooms.
In total, COOP plans to dedicate $20 million to the overall project.
A 60-barrel, state-of-the-art brewhouse on the first floor will be the heart of the operation. Fermentation, conditioning, packaging and other production equipment will occupy the remainder of the 22,000-square-foot drill hall floor. More than 30,000 square feet of perimeter space surrounding the production floor will house brewery storage, offices, barrel aging, cold storage, shipping, receiving and more.
On the second floor, the east wing will become an 8,000-square-foot restaurant and taproom, with indoor and patio seating for more than 160 patrons. The full-service restaurant will serve a diverse collection of food and beverages. On the third floor of the east wing, dedicated event spaces will be available for community and private events.
Sean Mossman is the director of sales and marketing for COOP Aleworks. The need for expansion for COOP started two years ago, just two years after moving into a second venue.
“We began to start looking for places that could house a much bigger operation for us,” Mossman said. “Among the things we really wanted along with space was to create a brewery Oklahoma City could be proud of. To accomplish that we needed to move back into the urban core which is in the process of being revitalized.”
“When we saw the Armory and it became available it was a real no-brainer. It checked every box.”
COOP Ale Works is a craft brewery based in Oklahoma City, dedicated to brewing full-flavored beers. Since 2009, COOP has created a core lineup of six year-round canned beers in addition to four seasonal canned beers.
A 22-room boutique hotel will tie the experience together. Hotel rooms will occupy the second and third floors of the west wing of the building with a refined lobby located on the west side of first floor to welcome guests.
The proposal also includes five acres surrounding the armory building as well as leases for two adjacent properties. The additional properties will provide substantial parking, opportunities for retail and downtown living, and green space.
A new building would have been easier but Mossman said COOP wanted to strengthen ties in OKC.
“We focused early on for something on the Register of Historic Places or just meant something to the community through time,” Mossman said.
The 23rd Street Armory, constructed in 1938, was designed by architect and Oklahoma Army National Guard Major Bryan Nolen and was built as part of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration. At the time of its original construction, it was promoted as the only armory in Oklahoma funded entirely by state funds generated from oil wells located on the Oklahoma State Capitol grounds. The three-story building served as the state’s hub for the Oklahoma National Guard and the storied 45th Infantry Division.
“Our commitment to preserving the building is really important from our perspective as is doing honor to the 45th Infantry,” Mossman said. “We’ve gotten testimony from dozens of people who have went through that building and it means so much to them and they’re excited somebody is doing something with it that’s meaningful and it’s not being knocked down and forgotten.”
Mossman said COOP will invest $20 million into renovations with projected annual economic activity of $26 million to OKC.