Merced County Times Newspaper
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Emanuel Cancer Center celebrates lives of survivors

Patients and staff at Emanuel Cancer Center (ECC) spent National Cancer Survivors Day by celebrating life. The annual event, themed “Stay Afloat” this year, was held last Wednesday, May 29 with Rita’s Italian Ice, entertainment, games and prizes. Hundreds of patients, prior patients, family, friends and ECC staff came to celebrate together.

“I saw patients all day for their follow-up appointments. Many of them enjoyed the celebration while here. One of my patients began to cry. She never imagined she would be celebrating as a survivor,” said Dr. Sandra Zaky, a Stanford University (SU) oncologist who works at ECC as part of their partnership. “This party reminds me of why I do my job. I am proud to be part of their survival.”

ECC opened in 2006 to provide cancer treatment to people living in the Northern Central Valley. Before its opening, cancer treatment required traveling to the Bay Area, Sacramento or further south. Today, the center treats more than 50 patients in a typical day. Their comprehensive approach includes state-of-the-art medical treatments along with all of the support services needed to care for their patients’ emotional, spiritual and practical needs.

The partnership with SU brings Stanford physicians to ECC. And Tenet Healthcare, owner of ECC, provides the same state-of-the-art technology and equipment as patients are treated with if they went all the way to Palo Alto.

“Stanford takes pride in providing this level of care in the Central Valley,” Dr. Zaky said.

One of the newer technologies in treating early stage lung cancer and metastatic disease (where cancer has spread to the brain or the liver) is called Stereotactic Radiosurgery. This method uses highly targeted radiation beams to remove tumors.

“The motion management feature allows doctors to watch lung tumors moving as a patient breathes. It’s incredibly precise,” said Dr. Laky. “Patients are treated one to five times. It’s a very short treatment. We can get the same cure rate without the pain and healing periods of traditional surgery.”

Dr. Laky continued that skin cancer is very common in the Central Valley where summers are hot. “There is a shortage of dermatologists in the valley, resulting in many undetected skin cancers,” she said.

ECC/SU uses Skin Brachytherapy to treat skin cancer by inserting a radioactive implant next to the tumor or lesion. Dr. Laky is the only one in the Central Valley providing this treatment.

“Brachytherapy treats skin cancers without leaving scars. It takes 11 to 15 treatments in a two to three month period. Patients are generally very pleased with the cosmetic outcomes,” Dr. Laky said. “Skin cancer is rarely deadly but it can spread. It’s the number one diagnosed form of cancer. If you have an unusual spot that doesn’t seem right to you, it’s best to get it checked.”

ECC has three divisions: Medical Oncology, Stanford Emanuel Radiation Oncology Center, and the Ruby E. Bergman Women’s Diagnostic Center. They offer chemotherapy, radiation treatment, immunotherapy, hematology and treatment for osteoporosis.

The Women’s Diagnostic Center provides 2D and 3D mammography, bone density scans, breast ultrasound and a full range of breast biopsy services.

The amount of support ECC provides to its patients and their families touches every part of their lives. Each patient has a team including an oncology social worker, a nurse navigator, a registered dietitian, a financial counselor and chaplain services. Support groups for patients, caregivers and family connect people with common concerns. There’s even one called “Monkey Business” to help children aged five to 17 who have a family member with cancer.

Other resources speak to the human-ness of living through an illness. “Chair Yoga” and “Massage Therapy” help with physical stress while “Creative Expression Through Art” helps with emotional stress. “Look Good, Feel Better” program, enhanced with a free wig bank and resource room filled with pretty scarves and styled wigs, help with the practical issues of maintaining ones personal style.

For more information about services provided, events or volunteer opportunities at the Emanuel Cancer Center, stop by at 880 E. Tuolumne Road in Turlock, visit their  website at or call (209) 664-5030.

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