Nutrition plays important role in cancer treatment

Posted by on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

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When Hal Livergood came to Provision for treatment of his prostate cancer, he was impressed by the brand new facility—“like coming into a resort,” he says. His doctor and personal research told him protons were the best treatment option for his disease.

There was just one problem.

“My doctor said, ‘You need to lose weight,’” Livergood says. Otherwise, treatment would not be an option.

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Dr. Oz spotlights need for insurance coverage

Posted by on Thursday, April 28th, 2016

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CLICK HERE to watch the segment.

Nearly five years ago, 32-year-old Lindsay Rumberger was diagnosed with epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, a long name for a rare cancer that had originated in her liver and metastasized to her lungs. She underwent chemotherapy, but when a tumor close to her spine showed signs of growth, radiation was part of the recommended course. Because conventional radiation treatment threatened to cause peripheral damage to this most sensitive part of the body, her doctors recommended proton therapy instead. However, the insurance provider disagreed, calling the treatment “experimental” and refused coverage.

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Employee snapshot: Hospitality coordinator is a cancer survivor herself

Posted by on Thursday, June 11th, 2015

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There’s a reason hospitality coordinator Sharon Bishop is a favorite with Provision patients: She’s walked in their shoes.

In 2006, Bishop was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.

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Sharon has had a bi-lateral mastectomy, chemotherapy and conventional radiation—a treatment regimen that lasted five years. The chemotherapy caused cancer to develop in her uterus, requiring a radical hysterectomy. And the radiation left scars on her heart, requiring long-term follow-ups with specialists.

“Honestly, I’m never done,” Bishop says.

She was 42, with two teenage sons. And as she fought for her life, two sisters also were diagnosed with breast cancer.

Through it all, however, she maintained a positive spirit—joking with her sister about applying mascara to three remaining eyelashes so she could flirt with an officer should she get pulled over—and channeling her experience into a story of support she shared with others. Bishop has been involved with cancer support groups and had lots of one-on-one connection with cancer patients as a mastectomy fitter at Thompson Cancer Survival Center, the University of Tennessee Medical Center and Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center. She also serves on the steering committee for the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” initiative and is a member of the Young Survivors Coalition.

Bishop discovered Provision when her friend, Talbott Paynter, came to work here and encouraged her to apply. Her job lets her to get to know patients, offering a sympathetic ear and her own experience with cancer.

“When I started working here, I spent more time in the lobby than behind the desk,” she says.

Graduating patients get hugs from Bishop. Many confide in her their struggles and even medical issues they’re experiencing through the treatment. Patients often mention her when listing the things they appreciate about the Provision Center for Proton Therapy.

Her daily motivation comes from a picture on her bedroom dresser. It’s a black and white photo, snapped by her older son as she, hairless and weak, prays with her younger son in the midst of her battle with breast cancer. The image keeps her focused on why she comesto work here.

“Everyone that walks through that door, they matter to me,” she says. “I know what they’re going through.”

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Provision’s 400th patient not just a number

Posted by on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

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James Fulghum’s completion of prostate cancer treatment today was a celebration not only for him but for Provision Center for Proton Therapy as well—the graduation of its 400th patient.

A surprised grin crossed Fulghum’s face as he was presented him with a special certificate before he rang the graduation bell.

The event marks a “huge milestone” for Provision. The center opened last January and celebrated its 100th patient graduation just eight months ago. Since then, Provision Center for Proton Therapy has opened a third treatment room and seen its patient numbers increase significantly in 2015.

Fulghum, who came for treatment for aggressive prostate cancer from his home in Lebanon, Tenn., learned of proton therapy through his nephew. Founder and principal at civil engineering firm, Fulghum, MacIndoe & Associates, Billy Fulghum worked with Provision in its early days as the company made site design plans for the new treatment facility.

When his uncle was diagnosed with cancer, Billy Fulghum approached him about considering proton therapy as a treatment option.

“The first thing he said was, ‘I’m not going to the Bahamas to do some experimental thing,’” Billy Fulghum said.

But after perusing the Provision website and meeting with Dr. Marcio Fagundes and staff at Provision, James Fulghum was sold.

“(Dr. Fagundes has) been in this business for many years. He’s seen a lot of things,” Fulghum said. “He laid it out in simple terms that I could understand.”

At the end of eight weeks in Knoxville golfing, visiting the mountains, making friends with other patients—two of whom attended his graduation—and experiencing the hospitality and warmth of the Provision employees—from radiation therapists to hospitality coordinators to financial services manager Rhonda Turner—James Fulghum said he’s sad to go.

“I feel like when I walked through the front door this was heaven and these people were angels,” he said. “Even though I’m number 400, I’m not a number in this place.”

 

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Provision employee’s invention makes headlines, benefits patients

Posted by on Thursday, April 16th, 2015

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When radiaton therapist Zach Dutton got tired of cobbling together boxes and construction foam from Lowe’s to assist in making the cradle that holds patients immobile during their proton therapy treatments, he decided to solve the problem himself. With the help of his dad, Greg Dutton, he came up with the Z-box, an innovative frame that holds patients in place while their foam cradles are being poured and solidified around them.

The invention has garnered Dutton local headlines in the Knoxville News Sentinel and Loudon County News-Herald (the Duttons are from Lenoir City) as well as a byline in the Spring issue of the medical journal Radiation Therapist. First prototyping the box in plywood, the father-and-son team then crafted a plastic version of the Z-box that patients now regularly use.

The adjustable frame accommodates patients of varying flexibility—they must hold their arms above their heads during the process—and makes it possible for one technician to carry out the process. Prior to the Z-box, at least two people were needed to help hold the patient in place. As a result, what was once a one-and-a-half to two hour process in making the patient cradles, has been whittled down to 30-45 minutes.

While the device works well for proton therapy patients, it also could be used for conventional radiation therapy in cases where the patient needs to be kept still during treatment.

What motivated Dutton to take on the project? “I’ve always thought we could make things better,” he says.

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Proton therapy showcased on Ellen

Posted by on Friday, April 10th, 2015

Julie Kramer, famous for her appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show last year after being diagnosed with stage 4 synovial sarcoma, returned to the show this week. There she announced she was cancer free following proton therapy treatment. Proton therapy is an ideal treatment option for sarcoma because, when using traditional radiation, the location of these cancers often results in undesirable side effects to important organs such as brain, heart and lungs. Provision Center for Proton Therapy offers proton therapy treatments for both adults and children.

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Patient Story: Kimberly Krause

Posted by on Saturday, October 11th, 2014

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Kimberly Krause is the first breast cancer patient to complete treatment at Provision Center for Proton Therapy.  She shared her proton therapy journey with the Shopper News.

Kimberly Krause is an energetic woman with a fast-paced job managing a restaurant. But, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, the Provision Center for Proton Therapy helped keep her on her feet through treatment.

With a grandmother and two aunts diagnosed with breast cancer, Krause started yearly mammograms early. At age 39, her mammogram showed a possibility of breast cancer, and she went in for a biopsy Dec. 18. She was out of town on Dec. 20, when her doctor called with the news. She had breast cancer in the early stages, and six weeks of radiation, plus a lumpectomy or mastectomy was recommended.

Krause is a patient at Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center, on the same campus as the Provision Center for Proton Therapy at Dowell Springs. Her surgeon for the lumpectomy was Dr. George Webber. Each morning, a multi-disciplinary task force, including pathologists, oncologists, surgeons, radiation therapists and more, meet to review patients and recommend the best course of action for each patient.

“We all meet in order to provide input into a patient’s case so they can get the best possible recommendations,” said Webber.

Included on that task force is Dr. Allen Meek, board-certified radiation oncologist and Medical Director of Provision Medical Group. Because of the placement of Krause’s tumor, traditional radiation could have affected her lungs, giving her a higher chance of developing lung cancer later in life.

“This is not an immediate effect,” said Meek. “What can happen is potential long-term radiation damage to the left side of the chest. This includes a higher incidence of heart disease and a higher incidence of lung cancer. Proton therapy is certainly advantageous for younger women. Many chemotherapy drugs can potentially affect the heart, also.”

The proton beam can be controlled to send as little radiation as possible to nearby organs. Meek said another concern with traditional therapies is the chance of radiation scattering to the opposite breast.

“The benefit in my view is that we get the same benefit for the breast, and we reduce by a considerable margin the damage to the heart and lung,” said Webber. “The less we irradiate the internal organs, the better it is for the patient, period.”

“People need to know that side effects from protons are similar to traditional radiation: sunburn-like irritation at the site, fatigue, sore throat,” said Meek. “But most of our patients can keep working right through that. They have noticed some fatigue but bounce back quicker.”

Krause started treatment at Provision in early 2014, soon after the center opened.

“It was amazing. I had minimal side effects and was able to keep the same work schedule,” she said.

Krause is the first breast cancer patient to complete treatment at the Provision Center for Proton Therapy. She has been cleared and has a follow-up appointment scheduled for December.

“Everybody here was so nice,” she said. “They are very caring and wonderful people. I would suggest this 1,000 times over traditional radiation. “I got very lucky. It could have been way worse.”

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