St. Mary’s and JCMG join forces to bring a state-of-the-art cancer center to Jefferson City.

The American Cancer Society estimated more than 1.6 million new cancer cases being diagnosed in 2013, with close to 40,000 of those being in Missouri. A cancer diagnosis is life changing and can be scary, but the medical field has made advancements in screening, diagnosing and treating cancer, and the mid-Missouri area is no exception.

St. Mary’s Health Center and Jefferson City Medical Group partnered to create the St. Mary’s Cancer Center, located on the JCMG campus in Jefferson City. Brian Barry, regional vice president, Ambulatory Network for St. Mary’s Health Center, explains that the cancer center will provide a comprehensive cancer program designed to treat the entire person, including physical, emotional and spiritual needs, as well as the needs of the patients’ loved ones.

The new multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art cancer center is currently being built and will connect its radiology oncology offices to JCMG’s current medical oncology offices, but there will be a dedicated entrance to the cancer center. The center will also have a radiation therapy vault, a room encased in thick concrete and shielding that will house an external beam linear accelerator for radiation treatments.

“St. Mary’s Cancer Center’s alignment with JCMG allows quick access to a wide-range of specialists — radiologists, hematologists, radiation and medical oncologists, pulmonologists and breast and thoracic surgeons, among others — offering a collective experience that fosters exceptional health care to patients,” Barry says.

Mandy Lawrence, clinical coordinator at JCMG Oncology/Hematology, looks forward to having cancer care all in one place. “It’s a one-stop shop,” she says. “We will work closely with St. Mary’s to make this a cohesive center and to make a visit to the cancer center seamless for patients.”

One aspect Lawrence is particularly excited about is the Cancer Resource Room, which is dedicated to Richard J. “Dick” Wilson, of Jefferson City, who was a patient of hers. “The resource room will have additional information to help educate patients and their families living with a cancer diagnosis and other aspects of cancer treatment and healing,” she says.

In addition, the cancer services that will be available include:

Digital mammography

Image-guided radiation therapy

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy

CT simulation for treatment

Lung screening

Breast MRI with biopsy capability

Stereotactic breast biopsy

Infusion therapy

Medical oncology

Surgical interventions

Palliative pain management

Nutritional support

Support groups

The project was made possible through the St. Mary’s Foundation campaign efforts. Last November, the St. Mary’s Foundation Board of Directors announced its commitment to help advance St. Mary’s vision to raise the bar in cancer care and embarked upon an ambitious $6.5 million fundraising campaign to develop a new cancer center that provides all the best cancer care — all here at home.

Larry Kolb, the foundation’s president, along with Joe Scheppers, past president, stepped up to lead the effort. Other donors joined with many generous gifts totaling more than $5.6 million of the $6.5 million goal for cancer services. However, with the full cost of construction being funded through gifts from the community, private donations have and will continue to play a critical role in helping St. Mary’s achieve the financial means necessary to address the health care needs of the community.

With 87 percent of the funds raised, construction of the new St. Mary’s Cancer Center began in October 2013, with completion and opening projected in mid- to late spring, when a larger community campaign will kick off as well.

There is enough for cancer patients to think about when being diagnosed and going through treatment. Driving to a variety of offices for appointments shouldn’t be one of them.

“This centralized location makes it easier for our patients and families in Jefferson City to access comprehensive cancer care right at home,” Barry says.

Rendering courtesy of St. Mary’s Health Center.