“They are wonderful people here,” prostate cancer survivor and Shelbina resident Elbert (Gene) said of the team at the James E. Cary Cancer Center (JECCC). Gene underwent radiation therapy at JECCC, having been diagnosed in December 2010 after his PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level got too high.
Although Gene and his wife Dora (Joan) were initially shocked at the diagnosis, they were both comforted by the exceptional level of care Gene received while a patient at JECCC. At Gene’s first appointment at the James E. Cary Cancer Center, he and Joan met with Joseph Bean, MD, radiation oncologist, who recommended a course of 42 radiation treatments.
Gene and Joan felt reassured that Dr. Bean always took the time to thoroughly explain the treatments and procedures. “During our first visit here,” said Gene, “Dr. Bean told us ‘We’re gonna get you through this’. Most doctors don’t take the time to talk to you. But he did. Dr. Bean is in a class by himself.”
Radiation treatments use high levels of radiation to kill or stop cancer cells from growing and are usually given in small doses over a period of several weeks. Each treatment only lasts a few minutes. Treatments are painless.
“I had a preconceived notion that I would feel something warm during radiation treatments,” Gene said. “But I never did. I never felt a thing.”
The JECCC team includes a physicist, dosimetrist, radiation therapists and nurses in addition to Dr. Bean. Dr. Bean carefully plans each patient's treatments to determine the exact area to be treated, the amount of radiation to be used, the number of treatments, and the safest angles for radiation delivery. Each of Gene’s visits included an ultrasound to visualize the prostate prior to radiation treatment for accurate targeting of the treatment.
“I got in the routine of it,” said Gene. “Each time I came right in and got a gown on to be ready for the treatment. They were always ready for me. I only had to wait once,” he explained.
The JECCC team also includes a concierge; chaplains; speech, occupational, and physical therapists; a social worker; and financial counselors. While Gene and Joan realized the importance of caring for Gene’s health, they had concerns over the cost of the treatments.
“We were told the very first day the team had already consulted Medicare and our insurance and that we wouldn’t owe a thing,” Gene said. When Medicare raised some questions, Gene and Joan talked with the financial counselor who was immediately able answer the questions and reassure them the treatments were covered.
“That was a load off our minds,” explained Joan.
With his radiation treatments complete, Gene will follow up with his urologist, but will not need to return to the JECCC until his one-year check. "Successful treatment frequently involves coordination of care amongst physicians,” explained Dr. Bean. “In caring for Gene, I work closely with Steven Cockrell, MD, urologist with the Hannibal Clinic, to develop the best plan of treatment and follow-up care."
Joan accompanied Gene to each visit to the JECCC.
“I never missed a day,” Joan reiterated. Joan was especially impressed that members of the JECCC team recognized her and would stop to visit with her while Gene was having his treatments.
Now that their time is free to get back to their daily routine, Gene and Joan are enjoying their favorite activities - compiling a family history, reading, and spending as much time as possible with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren - attending as many of the younger family member’s sports events and activities as they can.
“I’m pretty much back to normal activities,” Gene said. “I feel great! I’d highly recommend the JECCC. Great people here - they all leaned over backwards for us. Everyone here has been wonderful.”
“We would highly recommend the James E. Cary Cancer Center to anyone,” echoed Joan. “Never give up! There is always hope.”
At the James E. Cary Cancer Center, you are the focus of our attention---giving you the most current treatments and support. For more information on the James E. Cary Cancer Center, please call 573-406-5800.