Erin Burnham was introduced to Palm Springs in 2013 by friends when they opened a neighborhood restaurant and lounge called Smokin’ Burger in the Smoke Tree Village in Palm Springs. They immediately were welcomed and fell in love with the people and community in the Coachella Valley. Erin and her husband, Tim have two children, Brooke 17 and Brandon, 14. They divide their time between Palm Springs and Anchorage, Alaska. Erin went to the University of Alaska and is a licensed general contractor and one of few women owned and operated communications and tower construction firms in the country.
In early 2015 Erin received her first mammogram, something she was dreading for years before. Erin had no bumps, lumps or pains but she went in and got it done. Right away the technician said she saw a little something but so small they could not be certain it was anything to worry about. She did, however, advise more tests. Two days later Erin received the call no one ever wants to hear. At that time, she was advised to come in for further imaging. Further x-rays, ultrasounds and biopsies confirmed cancer. The good news was it was an early stage and looked like it had not spread out of the duct.
After consultation with her physician she decided to undergo genetic testing because of family history and because of the fear her daughter might be at a greater risk in the future. Because the test results were negative for the breast cancer gene, it was decided that a reduction and partial mastectomy was the best treatment option. She underwent the surgery. Within days following reduction surgery Erin received the distressing news that more cancer was discovered, identified as Stage 4. A radical mastectomy would be required and she opted for a double mastectomy and reconstruction. Because of the earlier reduction, reconstruction was difficult.
Throughout the months of multiple surgeries, difficulties and disappointments Erin stayed strong and was determined to not let cancer be her identifier. She drew strength from her faith in God, her family and friends who supported and encouraged her, and the skill and experience of her surgeon, Dr. Laurie Bleicher and plastic surgeon, Dr. Sarah Troxel. She maintained a positive attitude, grateful for the early diagnosis and effective and professional care she received feeling extremely blessed for the love and support of her friends and family.
Erin and her husband, Tim continue to operate Smokin Burgers, manage real estate and their construction company in Alaska. They are so grateful to the Palm Springs community who have welcomed and embraced them as friends. They have engaged with the community with all of the energy and enthusiasm they bring to their other endeavors, actively supporting many local causes including the American Cancer Society.
Both Erin and Tim believe in living each day to the fullest and make it a mission to spend them enjoying all the gifts they have been given; each other, friendships and family.
Monica Khanna, M.D. is the Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center. She has practiced Radiation Oncology in the Coachella Valley for over 20 years. She earned her medical degree from the University of Louisville Medical School and her post graduate training from LAC-USC Medical Center and UCLA Medical Center. Among her honors and awards are Soroptimist’s International Award for “A Doctor Making a Difference” and City of Palm Desert’s Athena Award. In past years, Monica Khanna has chaired the Eisenhower Medical Center Cancer Committee, served on the Board of Directors for the American Cancer Society and Desert Cancer Foundation.
Dr. Janet Ihde is Medical Director of Women’s Health at Desert Regional Medical Center’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. She has practiced Surgical Oncology in the Coachella Valley for 20 years, specializing in cancer of the breast, endocrine system and melanoma. Dr. Ihde is board certified in General Surgery and Surgical Oncology. She completed surgical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and she was an Associate Professor and Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology at Loma Linda University Medical Center. Dr. Ihde also was Chief Resident, General Surgery at LLUMC and she earned her medical degree from Loma Linda University School of Medicine. Among her honors and awards is Loma Linda’s Golden Scalpel Award for Outstanding Surgeon of the Year.
In addition to caring for her patients, Dr. Ihde chairs a weekly multidisciplinary pre-treatment conference where physicians come together to discuss breast cancer patients’ treatment options. She also helped launch a breast cancer high risk clinic at the Comprehensive Cancer Center. In addition she gives public talks on cancer prevention and treatment, and helps further the causes of local organizations including the American Cancer Society, Gilda’s Club and Desert Cancer Foundation.
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