St. Joseph’s Foundation has announced Dr. Albert G. Wendt and his family gifted $2.1 million to establish an endowment supporting breast cancer care and education at Dignity Health – Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.
The endowment honors the legacy of Saundra C. Wendt, who died in August 2019 from breast cancer, according to a press release, noting her successful career aspirations as a school teacher, raising two children and six grandchildren with her husband of 47 years, Dr. Wendt.
He dedicated his career to understanding, diagnosing and treating breast cancer, as well as increasing breast cancer risk assessment proficiency, the release said of how he built upon his nine-year tenure at St. Joseph’s Breast Cancer Program.
Recognizing the family’s generous endowment, the release said the program will be named: “Wendt Family Breast Cancer Program at St. Joseph’s, Honoring Saundra C. Wendt.”
A Valley native who graduated from Arcadia High School, Dr. Wendt received his medical degree from the University of Arizona, where he also completed his residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in medical oncology.
His late wife also studied at UA, earning a master’s degree of education in reading in 1971. They married in Tucson in 1972, before relocating seven years later to Phoenix, where he established his oncology practice.
The $2 million endowment will be used to enhance the growth of St. Joseph’s Breast Cancer Program, provide research dollars to fight breast cancer as well as give educational opportunities for all cancer institute staff working to improve the lives of those suffering from the deadly disease.
The Wendt family also requested a portion of the funds to be dedicated to charitable care: supplementing breast cancer genetic counseling services for uninsured patients, noted the release.
“My mission is to focus on innovative clinical care and the pursuit of excellence through scholarly activities, which allows our healthcare team to continue offering state-of-the-art patient services,” said Dr. Wendt in a prepared statement.
“My family and I are grateful to have the opportunity to enhance patient care at St. Joseph’s while honoring Saundra’s memory.”
“Our hospital and the Cancer Institute is blessed to have Dr. Wendt on the team, both as an expert, compassionate oncologist and generous philanthropist,” said St. Joseph’s President and CEO Gabrielle Finley-Hazle in a prepared statement.
“His dedication is truly elevating the level of care provided here in addition to advancing the field of breast care medicine.”
The Breast Cancer Program at Dignity Health – Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center has breast cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment, the release said, noting its team providing care to more than a thousand patients annually while treating all forms of breast cancer as well as patients with a high risk of developing the disease.
The multidisciplinary program brings the entire team of breast cancer specialists to the patient in one day and in one place, designing personalized treatment plans based on each individual’s goals using innovative clinical and supportive care delivered through advanced patient services, according to the release.
Additionally, the Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s offers genetic counseling, physical therapy/occupational therapy, social work, nurse navigation, clinical trials and nutritional services.