DEBBIE WAGERS WAS ABLE TO RECEIVE BIG CITY ONCOLOGY CARE IN HER COMMUNITY, THANKS TO A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN WASHINGTON HEALTH SYSTEM AND THE UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH MEDICAL CENTER (UPMC).
When Debbie went to her primary care physician for a colonoscopy, she received life-changing news.
“In May 2007, I was diagnosed with rectal cancer at the age of 53,” Debbie says. “My physician recommended Pat Kane [MD, Medical Oncologist at UPMC], who practices at the WHS Cancer Center.”
Debbie had chemotherapy and radiation treatment at WHS before her first operation in October 2007.
For Debbie and patients like her, the partnership between UPMC and WHS means access to both advanced radiation therapy and medical oncology services within our community.
“We think WHS is a great hospital with excellent people working there, and we utilize all the resources at UPMC to bring care to people so they don’t have to travel for advanced services,” Dr. Kane says. “Our intention is to provide patients with the newest and most up-to-date treatments available.”
As a part of the UPMC Cancer Centers Network, patients at the WHS Cancer Center have access to the region’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. This means that cancer treatment trials and research opportunities, as well as standard treatment protocols, are available close to home.
“For patients receiving radiation therapy daily for eight weeks or longer, traveling an hour or more each way is a huge burden,” says Michael J. Dougherty, MD, Director of Radiation Oncology at WHS Radiation Oncology in partnership with the UPMC Cancer Center. “It’s an advantage for patients to get the same radiation treatment here as they would in Pittsburgh.”
AT HOME AND AT EASE
During her 9 years of treatment, Debbie has not only received quality care, but has been able to stay in her community and continue working part-time. She has also built relationships with her providers.
“At the WHS Cancer Center, they get you in quickly and want to know all about your problems so they can help you,” Debbie says. “Dr. Kane follows up on any concerns I bring up,
and asks me about them again at later appointments. He told me, ‘You don’t want cancer to run your life.’”
After surgical procedures in 2008 and 2011, Debbie is still receiving treatment every other week. For her, good communication with her physician has been key.
“Whenever you go in for a treatment, they’re thorough at telling you how you will feel during and afterward,” Debbie says. “It’s never a surprise, and you know what to expect anytime there’s
another treatment. Dr. Kane said I know my body better than they do, and I need to let them know how I’m feeling.”