Cancer center expands

Today’s news from the Associated Press was selected by Media Writing student Ashley Husbands.

By Erinn Callahan, The Port Arthur News —

Although there are modern methods that make the process less harrowing, chemotherapy is not commonly recognized as a pleasant experience. Click here if you’re on the lookout for herbal remedies that can help you cope with some of the uncomfortable side effects like nausea, loss of appetite and pain.

That’s why the doctors at the Cancer Center of Southeast Texas, 8333 Ninth Avenue, Suite G, decided to push for an expansion to their facility.

“We have had chemotherapy for three years, and as we have grown, we needed the room,” said Dr. Ernest Hymel, radiation oncologist. “We wanted a nicer space.”

New carpet is the least of the improvements. Since construction began in 2012, the square footage of the Cancer Center has increased by 30 percent with an addition of the new infustion facility – where the chemotherapy patients are treated. The facility has added four more exam rooms and expanded the waiting area and lobby.

“We had a really small lobby to begin with,” said Melissa Waguespack, radiation therapist at the Cancer Center. “Now we can accommodate more patients comfortably. They’re able to get their treatments going without having to wait for chairs.”

Waguespack estimated that the treatment center performs 25 chemotherapy treatments per week, but that number is set to increase now that the chemotherapy center can hold 15 patients at a time instead of the previous six.

“There’s a lot of camaraderie,” Dr. Hymel said. “The patients offer a lot of support to each other.”

The chairs that the chemotherapy patients sit in to receive their treatment wouldn’t look out of place in a living room. The reclining chairs have a heating setting so that patients with low blood count are able to stay warm.

“It’s mostly so patients can have the best experience possible, both in things they can see and can’t see,” Dr. Hymel said. “This makes a not very fun experience as enjoyable as it can be.”

Dr. Hymel said he believes the Cancer Center of Southeast Texas is “arguably the nicest” in the area, not least of all because the chemotherapy and radiation teams are under one roof.

“By having chemo and radiation – both important components of cancer treatment – all under one roof, it has allowed a lot of communication and coordination of care between the staff,” Dr. Hymel said. “Before, the radiation center would have been across town.”

And keeping patients close to home is the center’s primary goal.

“One of the reasons we exist is to serve the community, and part of that is patients not having to drive to Houston,” Dr. Hymel said. “Here, you have the same quality of care, accessible doctors – and it’s close to home.”

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