Oncology Rehab Helps Patient Recover After Double Cancer Treatment

Posted by | Posted in Cancer Care, Memorial Medical Center, Rehab, Testimonial | Posted on 06-02-2014

018-14-33When Walter Melcher learned he had Stage 4 throat cancer, he knew the prognosis wasn’t good. Just four years earlier, he had lost his first wife to a 13-year battle with breast cancer.

Six months later, while he was undergoing treatment, he learned that he also had thyroid cancer.

The double whammy of two cancers left him exhausted and made it difficult for him to swallow food. But Memorial Medical Center’s oncology rehab program, known as the STAR Program, has helped him get back on his feet. Read the rest of this entry »

With Husband’s and Co-Workers’ Support, Super Survivor Refuses to Slow Down

Posted by | Posted in Be Aware Women's Fair Super Survivors, Cancer Care, Women | Posted on 23-09-2013

333-13-01When Vicki Simmons learned that she had Stage 2 breast cancer last October, it confirmed what she had suspected when she first discovered the lump in her breast a week before.

“That was a long day,” she recalled when she heard the news. “I sat and cried.”

But those tears didn’t last long. “I’m going to beat it,” the 57-year-old woman said. “I’m from the old school. I can tough it out.”

And with the help of her husband, Dale, as well as the support of co-workers, she has made it through her treatments and chemotherapy. “So far, so good,” she said.

Vicki, of Mount Auburn, is one of three women who were randomly chosen as Super Survivors to be honored at this year’s Memorial’s Be Aware Women’s Fair. The fourth annual event will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, in the Orr Building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Read the rest of this entry »

Yolanda’s Story of Kidney Removal Surgery

Posted by | Posted in Cancer Care, Urology Services | Posted on 28-08-2013

The first day of the year didn’t start out well for Yolanda Marucco.

While most of us are thinking about how long we’ll be able to keep our resolutions, Yolanda was at her mother’s house in Taylorville when a sudden pain seized her right side.

288-13-01 CropThe 66-year-old Taylorville woman was certain that she was having a gallstone attack, but “since there was so much pain, I wanted to be sure that was the problem,” she said.

She went to the Emergency Department at Taylorville Memorial Hospital that night. She was suffering from gallstones, but the staff wanted to be certain that nothing else was going on. As it turned out, she had an 8.5-centimeter mass on her left kidney.

She was referred to William Severino, MD, a Springfield Clinic urologist, who discussed her treatment options with her. He recommended a laparoscopic nephrectomy and referred her to his colleague, David Lieber, MD, who specializes in robotic and laparoscopic surgery. In other words, her left kidney would need to be removed. Read the rest of this entry »

Skin Deep – Preventing and Treating Melanoma

Posted by | Posted in Cancer Care, Expert Tips, Memorial Medical Center | Posted on 07-08-2013

woman with skin cancerFor many of us, a summer tan is like a gold medal—something we work the whole season to achieve, and, when we get it, we proudly show it off.

Unfortunately, with a great tan comes great responsibility.

Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure from the sun—or, dare we say, the dreaded indoor tanning bed—is a major risk factor for skin cancers, including the deadliest of all: melanoma. The more exposure to UV rays a person receives, the more at risk he or she is to melanoma—particularly if that individual is also naturally fair-skinned or freckled.

According to the American Cancer Society, in 2013 alone, nearly 77,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma. While rates increase with age, melanoma is one of the most common cancers in young adults—particularly women. Read the rest of this entry »

Super Survivor Faces Loss of Loved Ones During Breast Cancer Recovery

Posted by | Posted in Be Aware Women's Fair Super Survivors, Cancer Care, Women | Posted on 07-08-2013

Kristen Becker Hoffman

Kristan Becker Hoffman

Kristan Becker Hoffman learned that the lump in her breast was cancer. It was a hard-hitting confirmation that would change her life and her family’s, but she was prepared to face it and seek the treatment to put her on the path to beat the disease.

She was 38 when she received her diagnosis in May 2012. What she couldn’t know was that two unimaginable losses would confront her in less than four months as she went through her treatment.

First, her father, Loren Becker of Jacksonville, would die of heart failure in August. About five weeks later, her husband, Bobby Hoffman, would die from a stroke.

They were a big part of her foundation as she went through treatment, and that foundation “was literally pulled out from under us.”

Kristan, of Jacksonville, is one of three women who were randomly chosen as Super Survivors to be honored at this year’s Memorial’s Be Aware Women’s Fair. The fourth annual event will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, in the Orr Building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Read the rest of this entry »

Noninvasive Outpatient Radiation Procedure Helps Treat Brain Tumors

Posted by | Posted in Cancer Care, Memorial Medical Center, Neuroscience | Posted on 07-03-2013

Karla Dirks enjoying the company of her family

Karla Dirks enjoying the company of her family

Karla Dirks was looking forward to a great road trip to St. Louis with her sister, but it ended with an injury followed by more bad news.

While attending a Cardinals’ playoff game in 2011, Karla fell and hit the back of her head on a concrete step while returning to her seat following the seventh-inning stretch.

A follow-up CT scan revealed a brain tumor – news that left her scared and surprised since she hadn’t experienced any symptoms to hint that something was wrong. The tumor was a meningioma, which grows from the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Somewhat easing her concerns, she learned that these tumors were slow growing and often not malignant.

Her doctor referred her to Brian Russell, MD, a Springfield Clinic neurosurgeon, who explained that she had three options: brain surgery followed by two to three months off work to recuperate; do nothing and keep an eye on the tumor; or an outpatient procedure called stereotactic radiosurgery that would not require an incision. Read the rest of this entry »

Ovarian Cancer Survivor: Pay Attention to Your Body’s Warning Signs

Posted by | Posted in Cancer Care, Women | Posted on 14-11-2012

Barbi Walter, her husband, their three children, and their two grandchildren

If it weren’t for a visit to Memorial’s Be Aware Women’s Fair, Barbi Walter is convinced she wouldn’t be alive today. 

And it’s taught her to never ignore minor aches and pains because they could be warning signs of larger problems. “I had all the signs,” she said. “I just didn’t listen to them.” 

The owner of Barbi’s Styling Studio in Sherman, Barbi and her preteen daughter, Molly, visited the fair in October 2011 in the Orr Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. She decided to give blood at the Central Illinois Community Blood Center, which was stationed at the fair, to teach her daughter the importance of giving back to the community. 

A worker told her they couldn’t accept her blood. She was “severely anemic” and was urged to follow up with her doctor as soon as possible. The following Monday at her doctor’s office, her iron level was even lower.  Read the rest of this entry »

Squash Breast Cancer

Posted by | Posted in Cancer Care, Nutrition, Recipes | Posted on 26-10-2012

Fall is finally here, the leaves changed color and pink is everywhere. Yes, pink! October is the official month for National Breast Cancer Awareness. We all know preventing and detecting breast cancer early can help save lives.

“One of the most important actions to prevent any cancer is eating a balanced, healthy diet,” says Christina Rollins, Clinical Dietitian III at Memorial Medical Center and spokesperson for the Illinois Dietetic Association. “And by healthy diet, I don’t mean the usual American fare that is high in processed foods and red meats and low in fruits and vegetables.”

Studies have shown that diets low in red meat and higher in fish, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats like olive and canola oil may help protect against a number of health conditions, including heart disease and cancer.

Secret Fall Food to Help Protect Against Breast Cancer Read the rest of this entry »

Jennifer Finley: Like Many Women, No Family History of Breast Cancer

Posted by | Posted in Be Aware Women's Fair Super Survivors, Cancer Care, Women | Posted on 17-10-2012

Jennifer with her friends

Just because you don’t have a family history of breast cancer, it doesn’t mean you’re safe. Jennifer Finley learned that when she was diagnosed a decade ago in her early 30s.

Her first child, Nicholas, was just a baby when she visited her doctor for a routine exam. Her doctor felt something that he thought should be checked out further. It turned out to be cancer and it had grown extremely fast. 

“It was totally out of the blue,” the Buffalo mom of three recalls. “I’d had no family history of anyone having breast cancer.” 

More than 220,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Like Jennifer, more than 85 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease.  Read the rest of this entry »

How One Nurse Made the Difference for a Leukemia Patient

Posted by | Posted in Cancer Care, Nursing | Posted on 03-10-2012

Stephen Wilkin and Family

On April 2, Stephen Wilkin was feeling tired. It was a Monday, and after a weekend of family time and riding his motorcycle, he assumed he was coming down with a cold or the flu. He called his physician clinic, which ordered some blood work.

By the end of the day, Stephen was an inpatient on Memorial’s 2E Oncology unit.

“His physician’s office had called back, told him they thought he had leukemia and to get to Memorial Medical Center right away,” recalled Stephen’s daughter, Ashley Creasey. “My mom and I were both in shock.”

Stephen, 56 of Girard, assumed he was coming to MMC for more tests, but he was admitted that night. Read the rest of this entry »