Phoenix, Ariz. (April 12, 2021) – CommonSpirit Health's St. Joseph’s Foundation proudly announces that Albert G. Wendt, MD, and his family have gifted $2.1 million to establish an endowment supporting breast cancer care and education at Dignity Health – Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. The endowment honors the legacy of Saundra C. Wendt, who passed away in August 2019 from breast cancer. In addition to fulfilling her successful career aspirations as a school teacher, Mrs. Wendt raised two children (Geordie and Kate) and shared six grandchildren with Dr. Wendt, her husband of 47 years.
As a medical oncologist, Dr. Wendt has dedicated his 47-year-long career to understanding, diagnosing and treating breast cancer, as well as increasing proficiency in breast cancer risk assessment. Currently, he continues to serve patients and build upon his nine-year tenure at St. Joseph’s Breast Cancer Program. In recognition of the family’s generous endowment, the program will proudly be named: “Wendt Family Breast Cancer Program at St. Joseph’s, Honoring Saundra C. Wendt.”
A valley native who graduated from Arcadia High School, Dr. Wendt received his medical degree from the University of Arizona, where he also completed his residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in medical oncology. Saundra also studied at UA, earning a master’s degree of education in reading in 1971. The couple married in Tucson in 1972, before relocating seven years later to Phoenix, where Dr. Wendt established his oncology practice.
The $2-million endowment will be used to enhance the growth of St. Joseph’s Breast Cancer Program, provide research dollars for the fight against breast cancer as well as give educational opportunities for all cancer institute staff working daily to improve the lives of those suffering from this deadly disease. The Wendt family has also requested a portion of the funds be dedicated to charitable care to supplement breast cancer genetic counseling services for uninsured patients.
“My mission is to focus on innovative clinical care and the pursuit of excellence through scholarly activities, which allows our healthcare team to continue offering state-of-the-art patient services,” says Dr. Wendt. “My family and I are grateful to have the opportunity to enhance patient care at St. Joseph’s while honoring Saundra’s memory.”
“Our hospital and the Cancer Institute is blessed to have Dr. Wendt on the team, both as an expert, compassionate oncologist and generous philanthropist,” says St. Joseph’s President and CEO Gabrielle Finley-Hazle. “His dedication is truly elevating the level of care provided here in addition to advancing the field of breast care medicine.”
The Breast Cancer Program at Dignity Health – Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center is dedicated to the screening, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. The team provides care to more than a thousand patients annually while treating all forms of breast cancer as well as patients who have a high risk of developing the disease. The multidisciplinary program brings the entire team of breast cancer specialists to the patient, all in one day and in one place, designing personalized treatment plans based on the goals of each individual. The focus is on innovative clinical and supportive care delivered through the most advanced patient services available. The Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s also offers genetic counseling, physical therapy/occupational therapy, social work, nurse navigation, clinical trials and nutritional services.