Cancer center

Enterprise Cancer Center staff welcomed guests to their facility Tuesday morning for “Doughnuts with the Doctor.” Pictured in front of the soon-to-be-upgraded treatment machine are (front row, from left) radiation therapist Robert Neenan, Dr. Hejal Patel, Jeanie Mann, (back row) senior radiation therapist Jeremy Yarbrough, radiation therapist Jessica Ruark, registered nurse Kimberly Bradley and front desk representative Betsy Rials.

The Enterprise Cancer Center welcomed patients and guests to share “Doughnuts with the Doctor” as part of a special event bright and early Tuesday morning.

According to Radiation Oncology Specialist Dr. Hejal Patel, “Doughnuts with the Doctor” provided an opportunity for the Enterprise Cancer Center to connect with the community and share more information about the medical services they offer to local cancer patients.

“We just wanted to open up the entire office so patients know that we’re here and you can get very good cancer treatment here locally,” Patel said. “We’re very well-connected; we’re also in Dothan and Andalusia, and I think we work well with everyone. We want to let everyone know that there is definitely a cancer center here and we are more than happy to coordinate with any of your doctors.”

Patel said that having a local radiation therapy facility is important for patients undergoing radiation treatment, as the whole treatment process is both involved and time consuming for patients and family members.

“Radiation is mostly an everyday situation, where you come in Monday through Fridays for a period of three, six or even eight weeks -- that’s very hard for a family to endure if they have to go to another state to get their radiation treatments, hard not only on the patients, but on the family too,” said Patel. “Some folks need to work to keep their insurance, some people need to take care of kids, some people have other responsibilities they can’t leave to go away for a period of eight weeks, so we just want them to know that we have that treatment here.”

The Enterprise Cancer Center will also be improving the radiation therapy it offers thanks to an upgrade to its computed tomography (CT) scanner, which Patel said will help provide even more accurate treatment for patients.

“We’re adding an upgrade to the imaging package, so we’re adding a completely new component, an onboard imager, that will allow us to formulate images of patients in real time during their treatment course,” Patel said. “We’ll be able to do cone beam CT imaging of let’s say a lung cancer; we’ll be able to watch this in real time, and every day, if the tumor is getting smaller, we’ll be able to follow the margins and treat this very precisely.

“For prostate patients we’re able to track motion, because the prostate does move to some degree on a daily basis, and we’re able to see the prostate on these scans and actually move with the prostate to provide millimeter accuracy. It’ll be a definite upgrade from a precision standpoint, which means better treatment for the patient, which also means less side effects.”

Patients who are experiencing financial strain also have opportunities to receive some financial aid through 21st Century CARE, a foundation for “Cancer Assistance, Research and Education.” Patel said the money raised through the foundation stays local to assist Wiregrass-area cancer patients.

“We raise money every year and it all stays local -- all of the money is earmarked to stay in the local market,” said Patel. “It helps patients with a variety of different issues. The main one is transportation; some people, despite us being conveniently located, are several miles away and gas or transportation is a problem. Some people are having trouble paying their light bills because they’re having to pay a lot of medical expenses and aren’t able to make basic expenses. We have a small application that the patient fills out, and it’s reviewed, and they’re able to provide some funds to help offset some of those costs for the patient.”

Senior Radiation Therapist Jeremy Yarbrough said that though Enterprise may be small in comparison to Birmingham, the care offered in the City of Progress is on par with the care patients receive in bigger cities.

“I think that we provide care just as good as you could get at any other center,” said Yarbrough. “If you did travel to Birmingham, our therapists and our technical team of nurses get the same training at the same schools as the therapists and nurses at UAB or South Alabama. We pride ourselves on patient care here and at all of our centers. We love building relationships with our patients, and I think our patients enjoy that, see it and care when they come here for treatment.”

For more information, contact the Enterprise Cancer Center at 334-347-5316.

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