When cancer diagnoses turned their lives upside-down, Jennie, Criswell, and Diana found hope through treatment with Kettering Cancer Care. They also found a way to share that hope with others: as members of the patient advisory council for a new cancer center on the campus of Kettering Medical Center.
Jennie Stockslager had always been diligent about her health, getting regular checkups and screenings, and seeing her doctors when something didn’t feel right. So when severe pelvic pain resulted in a trip to the emergency room, she was understandably concerned. A complete hysterectomy and oophorectomy confirmed what tests had indicated: ovarian cancer, which returned four more times, most recently in 2010.
Criswell Davis had a persistent sore throat—a big problem for someone who made a living as a public speaker and architectural consultant. He went for an outpatient biopsy, but his doctor saw he needed immediate care for his airway, which was already 90 percent closed. Four hours later, Criswell was in the ICU with a tracheotomy, which saved his airway from closing completely. The doctor had found a mass in Criswell’s throat—the largest he’d ever seen. Criswell had tongue cancer.
Diana Hoyle, a 40-year-old mother of two, underwent surgery to remove an ovarian cyst and tried putting the breast lump she found during a self-exam out of her mind. But she couldn’t. At her follow-up visit the day after her surgery, she told her doctor about the lump and went in for a mammogram and ultrasound soon after. The test results showed she had Stage 3A Triple-negative breast cancer.
The 30-member council, made up of cancer patients, survivors, family members, and physicians, met regularly to give Kettering Health Network input on the new cancer center from the perspective of people who have lived through cancer diagnoses and treatment.
“Even though our journeys have been so different, the one thing that all of us share and that we’ve been able to bring our hearts to is we’ve heard those words: You have cancer,” Jennie says. “Our experiences have been part of the planning so that every need from every level as a patient has been anticipated and will be met.”
Their input is reflected in everything from the building and interior design to the choice of chemotherapy treatment chairs. The cancer center will feature a café that focuses on the nutritional needs and tastes of cancer patients, holistic medicines such as medical massage, and a boutique that offers post-surgical apparel and products.
The facility also features the area’s largest private infusion center, specialty pharmacies, the only cancer-dedicated blood bank in the area, and after-hours urgent care services.
With more than 30 collaborating physicians from a wide range of specialties, as well as dedicated cancer social workers, dieticians, financial navigators, nurse navigators, and chaplains, the cancer center is intended to provide the most advanced patient-centered care in an environment that focuses on healing the whole person—body, mind, and spirit.
“What makes this cancer center different from others is that treatments are supervised by your physician, who is here in the facility with you, every day,” says Ronald Hale, MD, medical director of radiation oncology for Kettering Health Network.
“Because our team is located in one place, we are able to maximize coordination of care through timely communication. It means that we can take the time to personalize your treatment and personally assist you through every step of the way.”
The cancer center serves as a single touchpoint for both patients and families navigating the journey through cancer diagnosis, treatment, and healing.
“People don’t realize that even though we might be finished with treatments, we live with cancer every day. It’s truly a life-long diagnosis,” Diana says. “It has been exciting to see our input come to life. The new cancer center will be an outstanding resource for both cancer patients and their families.”