Tallahassee Memorial Opens Cancer Center

By: Julie Montanaro, Amy Long Email
By: Julie Montanaro, Amy Long Email

1.6.2011 by Amy Long

Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare laid another brick down the path to finding a cure for cancer by opening the Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Center- The only building at One Healing Place.

Phil Hsueh, who continues his battle with prostate cancer, was a member of the first patient and family council for the cancer center program. Hsueh said he believes his input was only a very small part. But as a panelist- Hsueh's may have been the most important because the whole center is catered to making patients more comfortable. "What are patients were looking for and what we came up with was patients are all looking for hope because of the disease. We're looking for hope for a solution." "The spirit behind the center was there a long time ago. 10 or 15 years."

Dale Wickstrum, MD was the first to donate to the new 17 million dollar facility. "This has been a long time run and a long time planning, and we're very excited about it." "A specialty machine called a Novalis TX is one of only 50 in the world, is here in Tallahassee." The machine allows Oncologists to treat even the smallest of tumors with accuracy and precision, sparing surrounding tissue.

However, TMH President Mark O' Bryant says the technology is only one part of the center that is designed to treat and support cancer patents and their families.

O'Bryant says the project was finished ahead of schedule and on budget.
1.6.2011 by Julie Montanaro

Cancer patients in Tallahassee and surrounding counties will soon have a chance to be treated much closer to home.

Tallahassee Memorial is unveiling a new state of the art cancer center tonight. We got a sneak peek inside this afternoon.

"It's a little scary, you know, when you find out you have cancer."

Jerry Clevenger - a retired builder from Crawfordville - was recently diagnosed with cancer and is one of the first patients to undergo radiation at the brand new Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Center.

"If I wasn't treated here, I'd have to go to Shands or Moffitt, but because this place is available to me ... it's a short drive for me and it has ultra modern equipment," Clevenger said.

The 17 million dollar facility will allow cancer patients to receive radiation - and later this spring chemotherapy - as outpatients without leaving town.

Oncologists say state of the art linear accelerators like this one, along with on board imaging and expanded radiosurgery options, will allow doctors to better pinpoint cancers and spare the surrounding tissues.

"If you are able to target yuor target precisely, then you can decrease the amount of radiation that goes to the surrounding tissue and therefore, get fewer side effects," said radiation oncologist Shelileah Newman.

Dr. Newman says the more advanced, more powerful equipment will also cut treatment times by 30% or more, which can make a big difference for sick, weak and elderly patients who must lie still
for treatments.

It has already given Jerry Clevenger a sense of confidence.and Jerry's wife was the first to toss a penny into the center's fountain with wishes for a cancer free future.

There is a reception for invited guests tonight. We'll have more on that on Eyewitness News at 11.

The public is invited to see it all for themselves at an open house on Saturday from 11 to 2. The center is located on One Healing Place, off Surgeons Drive behind the hospital.

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