Published Tuesday, July 13, 2010
By Jeff Bishop
The Newnan Times-Herald
Cancer Treatment Centers of America representatives attracted a standing room only crowd at Monday's "Lunch at the Carnegie" event sponsored by Newnan Carnegie Library Foundation.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) plans to build a regional cancer hospital in Newnan, with construction slated to begin before the end of this year. The hospital is expected to bring 500 new jobs and $500 million in new investment to the local economy.
Donald P. Braun, vice president of clinical research for CTCA, and Carolyn Lammersfeld, national director of nutrition, said that their hospital has a different slant than most, treating the "whole patient" and not just the tumor.
CTCA board member Annie Holsonback, daughter of founder and Chairman of the Board Richard J. Stephenson, said he company's philosophy of treating patients more like family members began when her grandmother was diagnosed with cancer in 1981.
"It was a devastating diagnosis," said Holsonback. "She was told to go home and get her affairs in order and prepare to die."
Her father found that "unacceptable," she said, and dedicated himself to finding alternative treatments.
"There was a lack of hope; a lack of options," she said, and in 1982 her grandmother died, in spite of Stephenson's efforts. But he became dedicated to the idea that there must be a better way to deal with cancer.
In 1988 the first CTCA facility was established, she said, in Zion, Ill. CTCA was dedicated to "integrated and compassionate cancer care," using "powerful and innovative therapies" right from the start, she said.
Now there are CTCA hospitals in Tulsa, Okla.; Philadelphia, Pa.; and Goodyear, Ariz., she said. Newnan will serve as the CTCA hub for the Southeastern U.S.
"There are now 3,000 stakeholders in this vision, which we call the 'Mother Standard,'" Holsonback said.
CTCA has experienced 20 percent annual growth since 2005, she said, and treated 4,500 new patients in Fiscal Year 2010.
She said she was delighted to see so much local interest in the new hospital.
"Wow, I don't think we could squeeze another person into this room," she said.
Braun said that his wife Judy lived in the Atlanta area for five years "and she is very excited about us coming down here."
His wife is a bladder cancer survivor herself, he said. Typically it takes four weeks to get in for a scan and another two weeks to schedule a reading of the scan, he said.
"But at our facility you can get a scan and a reading the same day," he said.
And whereas other hospitals may have one or two nutritionists serving as many as 800 patients, at CTCA the ratio is more like 12-to-1.
"When the nutritionist noticed my wife wasn't eating, they questioned her about it," he said. "They said, 'Judy, you have to start eating.' She responded that she ate all the time."
That wasn't exactly true, he said.
"Finally her team said, 'enough,'" he said, and made sure she started getting the nutrition she required. This isn't a rare case, he said -- many cancer patients are chronically malnourished.
A short 48 hours after Judy began receiving supplementary nourishment, "her pain medications started working again, and her anti-nausea medications started working again," he said. "That's because, with nourishment, her organ systems started working again. The medications will not work if your liver is not metabolizing them."
This is the kind of situation an integrated approach that incorporates nutrition and natural and alternative remedies in addition to traditional medicine can help address, he said.
The integrated approach has proven to be "very successful in maintaining quality of life, and even improving it" after a cancer diagnosis, he said.
Lammersfeld said "naturepathic medicine" is one of the many alternatives available to patients at a CTCA facility. Massage, acupuncture and other treatment supplements are also available.
She said about 80 percent of cancer patients seek these types of supplementary approaches, anyway, in addition to standard treatment, "and often they aren't sharing this information with their oncologists," she said.
It makes more sense to get the entire treatment team on the same page, she said. And the coach of that team should be the patient, she said.
"We get all the services under one roof," said Lammersfeld.