TCC BOD Biographies

Tucson Cancer Conquerors Board of Directors

Liz Almli

Dr. Elizabeth Almli, (Liz) was born and raised in Tucson Arizona. She attended the University of Arizona obtaining her undergraduate degree in Nursing, and continuing on in the College of Medicine for her Doctorate. She is currently in private practice as an anesthesiologist. She and her husband Scott have two grown children, Bryan and Alec, and enjoy spending their time with family on outdoor adventures.

Though she has spent the last 30 years taking care of cancer patients, she never imagined that she herself would someday be faced with that very diagnosis. After a year of challenging treatment, she realized how important it is for patients to surround themselves with positive people who can offer support throughout the cancer experience, helping them regain control and be proactive about taking charge of their health.

Liz is actively involved in raising funds for cancer research as a member of the Distinguished Board of Ambassadors for the American Cancer Society. She serves on the Executive board as the President of the Tucson Cancer Conquerors and has been actively involved since she was diagnosed with breast cancer 12 years ago. As a Certified Personal Trainer with the American College of Sports Medicine, she is a Cancer Conquerors exercise class instructor and oversees the “Get Active” programming for the TCC organization.

Pam Chess

Pam Chess was born in Chicago, Illinois where she spent her childhood years. She attended Arizona State University as a Fine Arts Major and upon graduation returned to Chicago for post-graduate coursework, working as a Medical Assistant in a private practice setting.

In 1975, Pam returned to Arizona to raise her family in Tucson. She is married to John and has one daughter, and two granddaughters. She enjoys travel with her family as well as tennis, walking, horseback riding, and oil painting.

Diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2004, Pam underwent surgery, Chemo and Radiation therapy. Throughout her journey she was fortunate to have another cancer survivor act as her mentor. Because of that support, Pam’s desire is to help support others newly diagnosed with cancer to enjoy life to its fullest, appreciating every day as a blessing.

Pam has actively been involved in nonprofit organizations serving as a volunteer for TiHan, and as president of ORT, (Women’s American Organization for Rehabilitation through Training). She currently serves as the Vice President for Tucson Cancer Conquerors and oversees the member outreach programs.

Debbie Davis was born in Denver, Colorado and lived in Colorado during her childhood. She moved to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona, graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in Business Administration and a major in Accounting.

At the University of Arizona (U of A), she met her husband, Jim, and now has two daughters and two grandsons. Jim and Debbie are avid U of A fans and enjoy following their Wildcats. - GO CATS!

Debbie is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in Arizona. She has been a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for companies in both the profit and nonprofit arenas and brings that experience to Tucson Cancer Conquerors. Debbie has served on multiple nonprofit boards that includes Catholic Community Services, Sunstone Cancer Support Centers and now is honored to serve as Treasurer for Tucson Cancer Conquerors.

As a two-time breast cancer survivor, Debbie feels that she has now moved from surviving to thriving. Through that journey from surviving to thriving, she was inspired by others and in turn wants to help others. Tucson Cancer Conquerors provides each of us what we need in support, knowledge and inspiration. Which means we can take control of what is controllable in our lives.

Arlene KutoroffArlene Kutoroff, M.Ed. grew up in Tucson after being born in New York. She attended the University of Arizona earning her B. S. in Psychology and then a fifth year Teacher Certification program. She went on to earn her Masters Degree in Guidance and Counseling. Professionally she worked for 20 years providing Case Management services for the Division of Developmental Disabilities and Child Protective Services. Then, she worked as a School Counselor for TUSD for 17 years until she retired in 2007.

After recovering from the shock of being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and a rigorous treatment protocol, she realized that many people had helped her in this journey and the time came to “pay it forward”. She has dedicated the last 8 years to learning about cancer and volunteering with numerous cancer related programs in the community including UMC’s Telemedicine VIDA!! Educational Series Program and Chai Circle Board (Jewish Women’s Cancer Support Program). She likes to say that since cancer, she has taken control of her health and has moved from couch potato/ junk food queen to the healthiest she has probably ever been.

Arlene has served on a variety of boards including Temple Emanu-El and St. Gregory Family Association. Her involvement in Tucson Cancer Conquerors began in 2007 and has served on the Board since 2009 and now serves on its Executive Board as Secretary and co-Chairs the Get Support Committee. Additionally, she is a member of the Advisory Council for Tucson Cancer Action Network.

Mary Specio BoyerMary Specio-Boyer was born in New York, and raised in Tucson, Arizona. She attended Arizona State University earning a Masters Degree in Social Work (LMSW), with specialty training as an independent addictions counselor (LISAC) and acupuncture detoxification specialist (ADS). She currently serves as Director of Business Development and Integrated Health Services at a local non-profit agency with expertise in the areas of consulting on non-profit administrative management, sustainability practices, organizational capacity building, and securing federal grants.

Mary believes one should never stop seeking new experiences. She and her partner Kayla, enjoy the arts and travel adventure. She has lived and traveled many places, but believes there is magic in the peacefulness of the Sonoran Desert.

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, Mary decided that she would use the experience to help others making the journey and volunteered as chair of the grants committee for the Susan G Komen Foundation of Southern Arizona. Since 2011, she has been involved with Tucson Cancer Conquerors serving as board President in 2013, and currently as the Executive Director. Her time working on behalf of the group has been spent offering experience in non-profit governance to establish an infrastructure that supports the interests of the members, and creates a strong sense of community for those in need of support.

Carole WymerCarole Wymer is a native Tucsonan and a graduate of The University of Arizona. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech Communication, and a Masters of Science in Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at The University of Arizona.

Carole is the proud mother of two children: a Bio-Chemist and an Information Science specialist. She loves weight training, ran her first half Marathon in 2014 and thinks planks are the most efficient core exercise…

She has been a Cancer Conqueror since 2011 and Board member since May, 2014. She is passionate about fitness and honored to be a volunteer instructor. She considers it a true blessing to witness members drawing strength from the joyful spirit of the group, overcoming the fear a cancer diagnosis can bring, and taking charge of their health and wellness.

Deb HeiligDeb Heilig grew up in Michigan, graduating from Western Michigan University with a degree in Printing Management. She worked for a number of printing, publishing and advertising companies in New York before moving to Tucson in 1996 to start her own design and custom embroidery business. Deb sold her business in 2003 and is currently a business analyst in the insurance industry. Deb, her spouse Loretta and their dog Zelda spend as much time as possible camping all over the southwest.

Deb was diagnosed in 2012 with appendiceal/colon cancer and spent the next 18 months in active treatment. During that period, Deb learned just how important physical activity is during cancer treatment, as well as the importance of having supportive, positive, understanding people to help navigate what can be an overwhelming journey.

Deb designed and maintains the Tucson Cancer Conquerors website and leads the TCC Second Sunday Hikes.

Lana Holstein, MD was born in Omaha and moved to California in high school. She attended Stanford and went to law school there for one year before she decided that medicine was really her life’s calling. After Yale Med School she and her husband came back west to practice in Flagstaff and then Tucson, AZ before retiring in 2011.

She was diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer in 2000 and has had two recurrences—the last one thankfully over 13 years ago. She is grateful for high tech medicine she has received and also cognizant of how important support and fitness have been in her journey—hence TCC!

She has written two books and been on Oprah on the topic of Sexuality and Intimacy. In retirement she is a life coach. She has headed several women’s social organizations, a team to build a new church sanctuary, and women’s golf groups. She finds good causes especially compelling. Therefore she is delighted to serve on the board of the Tucson Cancer Conquerors.

Mary Lou Martinez is a native Tucsonan born at The Storks Nest at the corner of Council and Court downtown in 1941 and a 1959 graduate of Tucson High School. Mary Lou went to work at Tucson Gas & Electric Company in 1959, eventually transferring to Southwest Gas Corporation from which she retired 37 years later in 1997.

Mary Lou has also worked part-time at Amphi High School in the English as a Second Language department, Pima Community College downtown in Human Resources department and currently works part-time at Tucson Unified School District in the Health Services Department conducting Hearing Tests for Elementary children.

On January 29, 2010, Mary Lou was diagnosed with breast cancer, requiring nearly a year of treatment with both chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Shortly after her treatment was finished, she discovered the Tucson Cancer Conquerors and has been an active member ever since. Through her commitment to the Cancer Conqueror organization, she was asked to join the board in January, 2017. Mary Lou is bilingual and is hoping to reach out and offer support to our members of the Hispanic community dealing with the challenges of a cancer diagnosis.

Mary Lou married her husband Arthur on November 18, 1961, and their son Arthur and his wife Lisa reside in Atlanta, Georgia and have 13 year old twins, Arthur and Antonia.

Sherry Evans was born in and raised in Tucson, Arizona. She attended Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas.

Since returning to Tucson in 2002, Sherry has dedicated a majority of her time in service to a number of non-profit organizations. For 15 years Sherry led a Girl Scout Troop that served the community in a multitude of ways and ultimately earned their Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards under her guidance. She has been a coordinator for “Leadership Training for Christ” in her church congregation for 15 years. Sherry has been a board member for four years for the Southern Arizona Bible Camp. Sherry also volunteered for four years for the Grace Home and the Giving Tree whose goal was to provide home cooked meals, groceries, shelter, clothing, education and job opportunities for those in need or homeless.

Sherry has been blessed with Scott, her wonderful husband of 27 years and two children. Lauren is 23 and a graduate of the University of Arizona, Eller College of Business. Michael is 18 and will attend the University of Arizona in the fall of 2017, majoring in computer hardware engineering.

Sherry has been a member of Tucson Cancer Conquerors since October 2013. She considers this incredible group of women to be a blessing in her life and wishes to continue to support and encourage them on their journey whether they are a survivor or a buddy.

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