A Coach’s (Cancer) Team

Print icon

Kristina Gianinni of Avon is a businesswoman, mom, and volunteer. Her avocation, though, brings her to a local basketball court. Here, she coaches young men and women – including her own daughter. The sport provides her both focus and refuge from life’s pressures, while helping others appreciate the positive aspects of working as a team.

“I can forget about everything when I go on a court,” Kristina said.

But it was on the court that she learned about her toughest opponent yet: cancer.

“It was definitely hard to hear the word ‘cancer,”‘ she said.

But coaching could not – and did not – wait. In fact, she continued to work with her girls throughout her treatment. It helped her to cope.

“I’m getting on a court and running a practice and bringing out the best in people,” she said. “It allowed me not to think about what I was going through.”

It also helped her to see the parallels between the team she coaches, and the team of health care providers who were now helping her on her cancer journey.

“All those wonderful nurses that, you know, they really do make you feel special,” she said. “I trusted them and they didn’t fail me. I mean, this was my team.”

When her team recommended her for participation in a new clinical cancer drug trial, Kristina was intrigued. Offered through the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute as part of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance, this newer chemotherapy offered treatment with fewer side effects. Not only would this option help Kristina personally, it would also provide valuable scientific information to improve cancer treatments for others.

“I didn’t lose my hair, my eyebrows or my eyelashes,” she said. “It wasn’t a vanity thing for me. It was (about) being a very strong woman. And I was in the business world and I was coaching and I was a mom and I’m heavily involved in the community. I didn’t want people to ask a lot of questions.”

Strong enough to both inspire her those she coaches, and beat cancer. Kristina is now two-years cancer-free.

Click here to learn more about cancer clinical trials offered at the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute as part of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance.



What's New

Mystic Health Center Approved

Hartford HealthCare’s proposed 47,000-square-foot, three-story health center in Mystic received unanimous approval from the Stonington Planning and Zoning on Jan. 14. Approval clears the way for groundbreaking at the site off of Coogan Boulevard. The health center will include primary care, cardiology, diagnostic imaging, rehabilitation, Headache Center, Movement Disorders Center,...

Hospital Security: A Dog’s Perspective

All across Hartford HealthCare you’ll find safety officers dedicated to ensuring that your experience is the best it can be. But there is one new officer getting a lot of attention. With four paws and a tail, he answers to just one name: Nitro. Nitro is a two-year-old Belgian Malinois....

HHC Hospital’s Welcome New Year’s Babies

Hartford HealthCare’s hospital’s rang in the new year with some new babies. Take a look at the first babies of 2019 at Backus Hospital, Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, The Hospital of Central Connecticut, Hartford Hospital and MidState Medical Center. Backus Hospital Lianna Noelle Robin was Backus Hospital’s first baby of 2019,...

How Hartford HealthCare Cares for the Community

People attracted to working in healthcare as a vocation have certain qualities. They’re caring and kind. They are the kind of people who want to make things better for others as a way of life. In this edition of the HealthCare Matters podcast, Elliot Joseph and Rebecca Stewart explore that...

The benefits of video games.

A Prescription Video Game? How Gaming Can Be Good for You

They’ve been linked with all sorts of negative things like violence and obesity but some video games can actually enhance psychiatric treatment, according to Dr. Paul Weigle, associate medical director of outpatient services at Natchaug Hospital. Noting that the Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing the first prescription video...