Cancer Center Task Force Marks Success

Fayette community members’ passion now a reality for county.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. (June 29, 2011)—A little more than a year ago, cancer patients in Fayetteville had to travel out of the county to seek comprehensive cancer care. Having more medical oncology services and cancer wellness services close to home was only a dream for many.

Thanks to the volunteer members of Piedmont Fayette Hospital’s Cancer Task Force who set out on a mission in 2008, that dream is now a reality and the “Big C” is a lot smaller in Fayetteville. The new 10,000 square-foot Piedmont Fayette Hospital Cancer Center opened its doors on June 24, 2010 with an arsenal of new equipment and services aimed at fighting cancer. With the Cancer Task Force at the helm, more than $500,000 has been raised in private gifts from the local community for the cancer wellness center.

“This is a dream come true for so many, and a welcome relief for those fighting cancer on the Southside,” said Sheri Waynick. “This has been a labor of love for those of us involved with the task force. We have each had our own personal experience with cancer and know first-hand the importance of good care close to home. It’s a comfort to know this wonderful resource is available to our friends and neighbors should the need arise.” 

The Piedmont Fayette Hospital Cancer Taskforce is a diverse group of volunteers from across the local community that has worked tirelessly over the past few years to help bring comprehensive cancer services to Fayette County. Members of this group are: Alice Ramsey, a breast cancer survivor who lost her father to the same disease; Leigh Ann Harris, a lifelong Fayette resident who lost her son to a battle with leukemia when he was 9 years old; Vicki Turner, who has been the caregiver for her husband when he was treated for cancer several years; Dave Lee, D.M.D., a local dentist who supported his wife Cheryl through her treatments for breast cancer; Doug Mickey, local business owner; Sheri Waynick, breast cancer survivor and Jonathan Bender, M.D., oncologist with Peachtree Hematology and Oncology and medical director of Piedmont Fayette Hospital Cancer Center.

“The success of this new center has been overwhelming,” said Jonathan Bender, M.D., medical director of PFH Cancer Center, and was a chief proponent of the development of the Cancer Center and of Cancer Wellness at Piedmont Fayette Hospital. “That success along with the generosity of the donors to the Center has been a clear sign that we are fulfilling an enormous need in the community.”

In the past decade, advances in medical oncology have brought about a better understanding of cancer cells on a molecular level and rapid advances in technology have converged to form much more effective treatment options for many types of cancer. However, a cancer diagnosis can still be an enormous psychological burden to patients.

Piedmont Fayette Hospital Cancer Center, is a new type of cancer center has that is “high tech” but embraces a “high touch” philosophy. Patients who seek chemotherapy and radiation treatment there find a facility that resembles a relaxing spa more than a hospital. Simple enhancements in design help relieve some of the anxiety that come with these life-saving, but sometimes uncomfortable treatment methods.

At the center of each person’s treatment is a nurse navigator. This nurse is often the first person the patient talks to after receiving a cancer diagnosis. These patients are looking for answers and the nurse navigator is there to guide them through the entire process, ensuring them that they are not alone as they manage their disease. Nurse navigators serve as a liaison to a team of surgeons, oncologists and other specialists who work together to map out a unique course of treatment for each individual.

As patients begin their journey, cancer wellness services help them cope with life with cancer. The programs there recognize that treatment is more than just surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Chefs and nutritionists come together to provide healthy cooking classes tailored for specific types of cancer. Prostate cancer patients learn about foods that can help keep them healthy while breast cancer patients may learn more about certain food items they should avoid. These programs focus on recipes that are easy to recreate, healthy and satisfying for patients who may not always feel their best.

Cancer wellness programming includes a resource library, group activity rooms hosting a variety of free events as well as counseling and spiritual support from specially trained staff. Other popular programs include therapeutic massage, creative writing and art classes. Participants are encouraged to take advantage of as many programs and sessions as they like.

“This first anniversary is an excellent opportunity to thank each and every person who did their part to make Cancer Wellness a reality in the Fayette community,” said Doug Mickey, local business owner and volunteer for the Cancer Wellness Center Taskforce. “From powerful friends in the business community making gifts as large as $100,000, to a nine-year-old donating the proceeds of her lemonade stand, we have been humbled by the love and support we’ve received from the community.”

The entire Cancer Center at Piedmont Fayette Hospital, including Cancer Wellness programs, would not have been possible without the generous philanthropic support of the community. All Cancer Wellness services are free and available to anyone whose life has been affected by cancer regardless of where and when they were treated.

“While science works towards a day when there is no cancer, it’s important for patients to know that their treatment options are more promising than ever before,” said Darrell Cutts, president and CEO of Piedmont Fayette Hospital “A heartfelt thanks from everyone at Piedmont Fayette Hospital goes to the volunteers of the Cancer Task Force. Life with cancer is more manageable than ever and patients are enjoying a better quality of life because of the efforts of this group.”  

To learn more about some of the individuals and organizations that helped make this center possible, visit piedmontfayette.org/littlec.

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2-11_cancer_taskforce_turnerharrisbendermickeylee Piedmont Fayette Hospital Cancer Task force members pictured left to right are Vicki Turner; Leigh Ann Harris; Jonathan Bender, M.D.; Doug Mickey and Dave Lee, DMD. Not pictured are Alice Ramsey, Sheri Waynick and George Martin.