Terry and Michael Ratner

Terry Ratner, right, founded the Michael Ratner Memorial Community Support Association in memory of her husband, pictured here after being diagnosed with esophagus cancer.                

Photo courtesy of Terry Ratner


In 2008, after swallowing a piece of carrot that became stuck in his esophagus, Tom’s Restaurant & Tavern owner Michael Ratner had an endoscopy. Two days later, he found out he had esophageal cancer. His only symptom: a history of recurrent gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). His wife, Terry, a registered nurse, urges people who exhibit heartburn two to three times a week, to schedule a routine endoscopy with their next colonoscopy. 

In 2015, The American Cancer Society estimates that close to 17,000 Americans will be diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

When Michael was first diagnosed with the disease, Terry looked for a support group specifically for esophageal cancer patients and their families and friends. When she discovered that a group didn’t exist because survivor rates were so low, she started her own. Terry continued the group after Michael’s death in 2010 and its current members include a 22-year, 12-year, 10-year, eight-year and five-year survivor of esophageal cancer. 

The group celebrated its seventh anniversary in February, but has now become a general cancer support group that includes patients with breast, lung, colon and other cancers in addition to esophageal cancer. To honor her husband, Terry has renamed the group the Michael Ratner Memorial Community Support Association. According to Terry, the group’s goal is to provide comfort, teach coping skills, help reduce anxiety and provide a place to share common experiences. 

The group meets 6-7:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at Bink’s Midtown Restaurant, 2320 E. Osborn Road, Phoenix. At each meeting, an expert speaker presents information on a variety of topics, including the latest cancer treatments, nutrition, clinical trials, toxic ingredients in the environment, research techniques and naturopathic medicine. 

In addition to Bink’s Midtown, sponsors are Morgan Stanley, Applewood Pet Resort, Kronick & Company and Michael Bidwill and the Arizona Cardinals. “This is a partnership (with Bidwill) that has come full circle,” Terry wrote in an email to Jewish News.  “Michael Bidwill bought the restaurant (Tom’s Restaurant & Tavern) from Michael before he died.” 

At the March 19 meeting, Dr. Colleen Huber, a naturopathic medical doctor and president of the Naturopathic Cancer Society, will present “Choose Your Foods Like Your Life Depends on Them.” 

The group is free to attend. Bink’s Midtown provides refreshments and offers complimentary valet parking. 

For more information about the group, visit esophagealcancersupportphoenix.com.

To attend the group meeting, contact Terry Ratner, info@terryratner.com or 602-527-3776. 

Abrazo Health’s Arizona Heart Hospital offers summer teen volunteer program: Arizona Heart Hospital, located at 1930 E. Thomas Road in Phoenix, is recruiting high school students to participate in its summer volunteer program May 26-Aug. 2. Applications must be submitted to Volunteer Services by 4 p.m. Thursday, March 19. 

Teens must commit to a minimum of one four-hour shift for eight of the 10 weeks. Duties include escorting patients to their destinations in the hospital, providing water and ice and delivering and picking up meal trays. They will also change beds, make deliveries and maintain inventory in the nutrition centers and linen room.

To access the application, visit tinyurl.com/abrazo-teen.

For more information, contact Honori DeReza, Arizona Heart Hospital Volunteer Services Coordinator, at 602-532-2274 or hdereza@abrazohealth.com.

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