Dr.HernandezOn October 23, the Desert Cancer Foundation of Arizona presented Dr. Edgar H. Hernandez, general surgeon, with their newest award and named it in his honor. Dr. Hernandez received the new “Edgar H. Hernandez Humanitarian Award” for his voluntary work for underprivileged and uninsured patients over a period of many years. The award criteria specify that the recipient must have distinguished him or herself in the medical field, with a particular emphasis on cancer education, screening, treatment or research. Hernandez has provided teaching expertise, mentorships, equipment and made a true investment in the health of thousands of people in both Mexico and the United States. He has led multiple missions to Mexico, teaching courses in laparoscopic surgery to general surgeons, presenting seminars on breast cancer, and gathering a “medical army” of volunteers for these trips. In addition, he has secured donations from pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment manufacturers worth millions of dollars.

Hernandez’s “Reach Mexico” missions share expertise in the latest medical techniques with local doctors and nurses. By teaching them and leaving behind donated equipment and medicine, Dr. Hernandez and his health team help the people help themselves, and leave an unforgettable impression.

Dr. Hernandez has also personally brought patients and family members to Arizona for treatment and complicated operations. He reads mammograms for the uninsured patients without a physician of record who are screened through the efforts of the Desert Cancer Foundation of Arizona. He also performs surgeries at no cost for those who have no financial resources. In addition, he has helped the DCFA locate other medical professionals and resources to assist the patients they serve – all on a voluntary basis. Dr. Hernandez said, “My philosophy is that people who are the least fortunate deserve a break in life.” He certainly lives by his own mantra.

Two of DCFA’s signature “Linda Rainford Awards” were given this year. Monica Krise, MSW, Oncology and Support Services Coordinator at the Cancer Center at Chandler Regional Medical Center received the first award. Monica is responsible for program design, development and implementation of supportive services and integrative therapies for cancer patients and their family members. In addition to her paid work, she is a frequent volunteer for mobile mammography screening, “Casting for Recovery,” and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

The other Linda Rainford award went to Singleton Moms, a grassroots organization providing volunteer and financial support to single mothers who are receiving chemo/radiation treatments or recovering from other cancers. Volunteers relieve daily stress on families dealing with cancer by providing meals, cleaning services and assisting with financial burdens.

The Linda Rainford Award honors outstanding recipients in the field of cancer education, prevention and/or treatment. Linda was a kindergarten teacher who took early retirement after her cancer diagnosis and moved to Chandler. She attended classes when not in chemotherapy and educated herself with all available resources about the challenges of a cancer diagnosis, consistently educating those around her. She never gave up hope and saw her diagnosis as an opportunity for growth and spirituality. Linda was actively involved in the Desert Cancer Foundation’s Advisory Board.

Cancer experts Dr. Edgar Hernandez (general surgeon and Chief Medical Advisor of the DCFA), Dr. Ajay Bhatnagar (radiation oncologist) Patricia DeBruhl (oncology counselor) and Dr. Rimma Finkel (reconstructive surgeon) presented information, treatments and services available for cancer patients and their families as the educational component of the event.

Guest Emcee and panel facilitator was Gary Cruz, Sports Anchor, CBS 5, who also shared his personal cancer experience with attendees.

The mission of the Desert Cancer Foundation of Arizona is “to provide cancer education and treatment resources to the uninsured of Arizona.” Proceeds from this event and other projects are used for those purposes.

For information about volunteering or donating to the DCFA, go to the web site,