New unit to help strengthen cancer services at Methodist Charlton
Sit down at your next family dinner or company board meeting and look around the room. According to the National Cancer Institute, every third person at that table will be diagnosed with cancer during his or her lifetime.
That statistic may be the cause of interrupted life stories and burdened families. But it’s also the impetus behind a new initiative at Methodist Charlton Medical Center.
Within the hospital’s service area, the numbers are alarming. For breast cancer alone, Susan G. Komen’s most recent Community Profile Report for Dallas County reports the death rate for Black/African-American women is 1.4 times higher than the combined rate for all women in Dallas County. Within the Methodist Charlton service area, 50.6 percent of the population is Black/African-American.
In an effort to give cancer patients in southern Dallas County the best chance at survival, Methodist Charlton is establishing a new oncology unit, made possible by funds raised through Methodist Health System Foundation and the 2018 Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award.
The new unit will include 12 patient rooms, with the capacity to serve more than 700 patients annually. They’ll have access to life-preserving treatments on some of their sickest days in private rooms with a spalike feel, featuring high-quality linens, comfortable seating for family and guests, and artful décor. Staffing the unit will be oncology certified nurses (OCNs) and board-certified medical oncologists.
For patients Jureica Henderson and Eun Ju Choe, knowing that Methodist Charlton is better prepared to help them on their cancer journeys offers peace of mind. Here’s a look at their stories.
JUREICA’S STORY: A comfort to patients with breast cancer
For Jureica Henderson, who recently had bilateral mastectomies and reconstructive surgery at Methodist Charlton, the strongest motivation to fight cancer came from her family.
“In my mind, when they told me I had cancer, I said, ‘I’m a wife, I’m a mother, I have to beat this. I have to still be around for my kids,’” Jureica says.
Beyond providing important information about medical procedures and treatment options, the doctors and nurses who treated Jureica also shared their personal experiences with cancer, which made her feel better about her own cancer journey.
“For them to personalize it for you and tell you what they’ve gone through as a doctor, I knew that I was in great hands,” she says. “Everyone who walked through the door, including the nurses, techs, and even food services, had me thinking that everything was going to be all right.”
Allison DiPasquale, MD, medical director of oncology and breast surgical oncologist on the Methodist Charlton medical staff, performed Jureica’s mastectomies and was impressed with her patient from the beginning.
“She came in as a rockstar, ready to take on cancer and do everything she needed to stay healthy — and do it with a smile on her face,” Dr. DiPasquale says.
“Methodist Charlton’s new oncology unit will enable us to bring even better cancer care to patients like Jureica, because they will be in a unique place tailored to their needs. Our community asked for this, and it’s an honor to work at a facility that has its finger on the pulse of the community.”
EUN’S STORY: Beating the odds with early detection of colon cancer
Methodist Charlton has already set a record for excellence in cancer detection and treatment. Its Women’s Imaging Center has been named a Breast Center of Excellence by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) and a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology.
Colon and rectum cancers are the fourth most common cancer types, as reported by the National Cancer Institute — and the sooner these cancers are diagnosed, the better the prognosis is for patients. Eun Ju Choe, who recently had robot-assisted surgery at Methodist Charlton to remove a portion of her colon, was grateful her cancer was found early enough to be treated successfully.
“I feel I’ve been given a second chance at life,” Eun Ju says. “I am so grateful, and I’m happy to do simple things like going to work and seeing my friends. Now I tell people, ‘If you have symptoms, don’t wait. See a doctor right away.’ If I had waited longer, I might not be here.”
Paul Hackett, MD, performed the procedure, which uses small incisions and is less invasive than traditional surgery, allowing patients to return to work faster.
“Our patients will benefit from the specialized physician expertise, nursing expertise, and support of a dedicated oncology unit,” Dr. Hackett says about the unit being created at the hospital. “Methodist Charlton is committed to bringing the best care to the communities we serve — and donor support is the driving force that makes it all possible.”