Mentor Biographies

Click on the questions below to learn more about what each mentor has to offer!

Tracey Cargill-Smith

I never thought two days before my birthday on 1/13/2020 I would be diagnosed with breast cancer. Normally a 50th birthday is a milestone to celebrate, but instead my 50th birthday was trying to understand why and how I got breast cancer. I always ate healthy and walked one or two miles a day and no one else in my family had breast cancer. Breast cancer never crossed my mind.

Cancer is an overall horrible thing that everyone wishes to fight, destroy, and win the battle. I believe POQC will make an impact helping communities focus on the challenges Cancer Patients/ survivors face and will contribute to helping to better the quality of life for Cancer patients. In my opinion, POQC is a true advocate for the Cancer community.

I do not take one breath for granted. I wake up grateful every single day. I am grateful for my cat, my family and all of the people I have met along my cancer journey. I always find joy. Going through cancer really taught me how to count the small joys. The small joys are the big ones.

Diane Drago

I come to MOQC/POQC from the caregiver perspective. My husband was a patient at the Rogel Cancer Center at Michigan Medicine for nearly four years, diagnosed with metastatic renal cell cancer (after removal of his kidney 10 years prior) and later, Parkinson’s Syndrome brought on by the early stages of Lewy Body dementia. I was the sole caregiver.

My mother had both breast cancer and melanoma, both of which were treated by multiple surgeries. I shared caregiving responsibilities with my2 brothers.

Both my husband and mother have passed. My desire to volunteer and concentrate on caregiver issues was inspired both by the challenges I faced as a primary caregiver and the outstanding care and support my husband received at the Rogel Cancer Center.

I’ve been a member of POQC/MOQC since 2017, when I was invited to join through an associate at Michigan Medicine. I’ve had the honor of being part of several volunteer efforts at Michigan Medicine, including a 6-year member of their Cancer Center Patient and Family Advisory Board. All of those experiences were invaluable and gratifying.

But my time with MOQC/POQC has been far and away the most inspirational and rewarding. This is due in large part to MOQC’s steadfast, genuine enthusiastic support of patient and caregivers’ participation and input into all facets of MOQC, including presenting at Biannual and Regional Meetings. The willingness to have POQC members suggest, initiate and “run with” projects of particular and personal interest to them is a gift for which I’m incredibly grateful. MOQC truly listens and takes POQC members input to heart.

I have participated in several MOQC initiatives and work groups including the End-of-Life/Palliative workgroup, participating in the review of database vendors, and a nationwide project to develop new Patient-Reported Outcome Measures for Oncology Care (PROMOnc).

But the initiative closest to my heart is the one I requested and MOQC wholeheartedly supported–developing resources for caregivers. With extraordinary staff support and some POQC colleagues, MOQC now has a robust Patient and Caregiver Resources page on their website. We introduced the project at the June 2022 Biannual Meeting, including a penal presentation that included caregivers and providers. We are now in the process of developing a program to ensure that all the oncology practices are aware of this resource and how it can be shared with their patients and caregivers.

There has not been any other volunteer group of which I’ve been a part that allowed, encouraged and supported projects initiated by its patient, caregiver and family members–MOQC is truly unique and I’m appreciative beyond words! The caregiver effort is not the only one of this sort–there are at least 3 other initiatives suggested by POQC members that are supported with equal enthusiasm by MOQC.

Family, particularly my stepchildren, nieces and nephews; my friends, including some I’ve known since grade school–having a “history” is a blessing; living in Ann Arbor, quiet beaches everywhere, but energetic cities too (New Orleans, New York, Chicago, Boston); travelling to historic cities and sites; working on a variety of healthcare volunteer projects, both with MOQC and Michigan Medicine, walking, yoga, reading, visiting new places, music, cats and dogs, and Impressionist art all bring me joy!

Mike Harrison

I was diagnosed with bladder 10 years ago. My cancer journey was relatively easy – especially compared with family, friends and POQC members who have struggled with treatment, reoccurrences and difficult side-effects.

I was one of the original members of POQC about eight years ago. I’ve learned so much about cancer care through many opportunities to participate through various roles, including the MOQC Steering and Measures committees, POEM (Pharmacists Optimizing Oncology Care Excellence in Michigan), the national and statewide patient-reported outcomes efforts and several subcommittees in POQC, including financial navigation, recruitment and retention.

I am fortunate almost seven years into retirement to have many volunteer experiences, but none are as enriching, meaningful or enjoyable as MOQC/POQC. Not even close.

My six grandchildren (two of whom are in the picture!), traveling (especially as part of a cruise) and exercising bring me the most joy.