Lahoma Presley considers herself fortunate for her “easy” cancer experience.
Last November, the 80-year-old Ada resident was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. She underwent surgery at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City to remove the tumor and place a port so she could receive chemotherapy.
For five months, Presley received three-hour chemotherapy treatments twice a month at the Cancer Center at Mercy Hospital Ada. She finished treatments in June and is optimistic that her cancer is gone. She will learn her prognosis when her oncologist travels to Ada to see her in September.
“I just came through it really well,” she said. “I just thank God for having it so easy. I can’t say one bad word about the nurses in the treatment area; they were all so sweet and we couldn’t have asked for better nurses.”
The Cancer Center at Mercy Hospital Ada provides patients the best in cancer care but without the time, expense or inconvenience of driving long distances.
To diagnose cancer, Mercy Hospital Ada offers PET scans, MRIs, CT scans, digital mammography, CT-guided biopsies, stereotactic breast biopsies and specialty lab tests. Once diagnosed, patients have access to medical oncologists three days a week and radiation oncologists one day a week in Ada. The hospital is currently recruiting full-time oncologists.
Once patients and physicians develop a treatment plan, they can receive radiation and chemotherapy treatments locally from certified providers.
“Since we are a small town, a lot of the patients we see we may have grown up with or they may have taught us in school,” said Marietta Carter, nurse manager of the Cancer Center at Mercy Hospital Ada. “We are treating our friends and neighbors here, which lends itself to a lot of personalized service. I like to say we give small-town service with the skill and knowledge that you might expect only to come from a large facility.”
Presley appreciated the personalized care she received from nurses she has known for years.
“I knew them and we could talk about our children and grandchildren,” she said. “It just made it a lot easier and a lot more comfortable.”
Nationally Recognized Program
Mercy’s cancer center has been accredited by the American College of Surgeons since 1970, which shows the program’s long-standing commitment to maintaining quality care, said Carter.
Being accredited requires rigorous reporting and monitoring to assure all guidelines are met. Mercy Hospital Ada employs two tumor registrars who collect information about cancer diagnoses and enter it into state and national databases. The hospital uses the registry to learn how environmental concerns, occupational exposure, life habits and other factors may contribute to the incidence of cancer; and also to measure the impact of current cancer treatments, screening processes and preventive measures.
According to Elaine Rhynes, administrator of the cancer program at Mercy Hospital Ada, highly qualified tumor registrars, Shelley Sanford and Lindsay Snow, also coordinate cancer care conferences and cancer committee under the direction of the cancer program medical director, Dr. Bruce Van Horn, and physician liaison, Dr. Kevin Maddox.
These conferences include medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, radiologists and family physicians, as well as other staff involved in the cancer care process. Together, they review different cancer diagnoses and determine the best treatment on a case-by-case basis.
In 2014, 185 cancer cases were discussed in Ada through these cancer care conferences, which is a higher percentage of overall cases being addressed compared to other hospitals.
To stay accredited, programs also need to provide multiple screenings each year. Mercy Hospital Ada offers several free or low-cost screenings and health education programs in the community.
“We want to help prevent cancer by appropriate and timely screening and education,” said Rhynes. “And, if you become a cancer patient, we have a team working together to provide the best care here in your community hospital.”
The cancer program also recently began using a new software program called Beacon, which is used by major cancer centers in the state to automatically match cancer diagnoses to national safety monitoring and chemotherapy protocols. This ensures patients receive care based on the most highly respected cancer care guidelines in the world.
Quality Care Close to Home
“Logistically, it helps the patient so much to have cancer care in Ada,” said Carter. “It cuts hours out of their day and helps them continue with their normal lifestyle much more easily than if they had to travel for treatment.”
Presley agrees. She was thankful to have quality cancer care close to home, especially during treatment cycles when she felt weak and tired.
“I’m so blessed that we have this cancer center out here,” she said. “It was a nice place to have to have a treatment like that. I just have praise for it.”