Collaborative effort helps region fight cancer

By | March 19, 2009

It’s a dream come true for Jim Coller, president and CEO of St. Vincent and St. Mary’s Hospitals – this project has been high atop his wish list for a very long time.

Dealing with a cancer diagnosis is taxing enough, much less adding to it the stress of traveling a great distance for treatments. For northeast Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the Regional Cancer Collaborative represents “the best of the best to keep people in their own communities,” said Coller.

The motto of the Regional Cancer Collaborative is “State-of-the-Art. Hope.” And since last summer each of the collaborating cancer centers in the six communities have been representing themselves with this new umbrella brand.

The branding was designed to communicate a message of comfort, healing and hope. It was also crafted to communicate to the region that through the Regional Cancer Collaborative people have access to some of the very best cancer treatment available in the United States.

“Most of us are living with cancer rather than dying of it.” That’s the good news about advancements in cancer treatment, said Coller. He should know: Coller himself has been living with cancer for 14 years and continues to receive periodic treatments.

How does the Regional Cancer Collaborative work?

Upon diagnosis, it’s encouraged that the patient receive treatment in their own community, close to the support of their own family physician and support of friends and family.

The good news is that each of the communities has access to the expertise available in Green Bay for advanced treatment opportunities.

The cornerstone of the Regional Cancer Collaborative is the construction at St. Mary’s Hospital of a 26,000-square-foot cancer center. Construction began in the fall of 2007 with the opening scheduled for January 2010. It will be located on the first floor of the hospital

St. Vincent Hospital has served as the largest base for cancer treatment in the region and will continue to be a source of treatment. But with St. Vincent land-locked, said Coller, the new cancer center at St. Mary’s, along the Highways 41-29 corridor, will provide easier access for patients.

The tradition of excellence that St. Vincent Hospital brings to the Regional Cancer Collaborative will be extended to the new St. Mary’s site.

For two decades St. Vincent Hospital has served as a major research center in the United States and today is one of only 63 programs nationwide designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP). This brings distinction to the Regional Cancer Collaborative of access to the many patient cancer clinical trials being offered in the United States.

“Cutting edge” is a good way to describe the Regional Cancer Collaborative, said Coller.

The Regional Cancer Collaborative’s cancer service line administrator is Sally Luehring, a registered nurse. The medical director/liaison is Dr. Timothy Jahn.

Coller said other communities which currently offer cancer treatment in the area may be added to the Regional Cancer Collaborative. See www.stateofthearthope.com.

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