Tremendous new cancer resource welcomed by patients

Just over five weeks ago Maurice Paul graduated from his radiation treatment at the Central Alberta Cancer Clinic in Red Deer.

Just over five weeks ago Maurice Paul graduated from his radiation treatment at the Central Alberta Cancer Clinic in Red Deer.

Paul thanked donors and staff for their support at the clinic’s open house at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre on Saturday.

Paul learned he had prostate cancer about a year ago.

After hearing his diagnosis, the 64-year-old joined the local prostate cancer support group in Red Deer.

Paul said the support from the group was amazing but he was overwhelmed to hear that the men in the group received their treatments in either Edmonton or Calgary.

“It is scary when you hear something like that,” said Paul, of Gull Lake.

“Probably one of the best things I did was latching on to that support group and getting their information.”

Paul received 37 daily treatments at the clinic from March 18 to May 9 at the clinic.

“It was a real gift to be able to hear you can have your treatment here,” said Paul.

These days Paul says things are looking good and he feels great.

The Central Alberta Cancer Centre’s new building at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre opened to patients in November 2013.

The new facility, four times the size of its former location, has brought radiation treatment for some cancers to Central Alberta so most cancer patients no longer have to travel to Edmonton or Calgary.

Already an estimated 125 patients have completed radiation therapy since the facility opened and 20 to 25 patients per day have been treated on the medical day unit that has treatment areas for chemotherapy.

Dr. Julie Cuartero, a radiation oncologist, said patients have to go through so much physically and emotionally and having a clinic close by makes a tremendous difference.

“It’s difficult enough for them,” she said.

“The treatments we offer are not benign either. Chemotherapy and radiation are tough treatments to go through.

If you can eliminate extraneous things such as having to worry about the driving, the roads, the weather conditions, that makes a huge impact on how they go through their treatments or cancer journeys.”

Cuartero said the clinic is a tremendous resource for cancer patients.

Myka Osinchuk, CEO of the Alberta Cancer Foundation, was on hand to thank the foundation donors.

She shared how the foundation’s investments have enhanced patient care with initiatives such as the foundation’s patient navigation program that operates in cancer centres across Alberta.

Thirteen patient navigators including one in Red Deer help patients find their way around the health-care system.

In 2013, the navigator cared for 596 patients and 553 patients already in 2014.

By the end of the year, she expects the number to be 2,000 receiving help from the foundation’s navigator.

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