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A Gamechanger: Care Closer to Home

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Shortly after Mary Bird Perkins announced the addition of infusion and chemotherapy services at its Gonzales location in May, Bryan Lee became the first patient to take advantage of these additional services.

The 25-year St. Amant resident was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2021 and underwent surgery to remove the malignant organ. Following the procedure, David Hanson, M.D., medical oncologist, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, offered Bryan the option to include infusions as part of his treatment plan. At the time he declined the treatment, but continued to see Dr. Hanson regularly to monitor his health.

After enjoying remission for a window of time, a follow-up scan revealed the cancer had moved to his left lung. Bryan would then need to undergo three radiation treatments, which would take place in Gonzales, to begin fighting the disease

“When that happened, I wished I’d taken the infusion before,” he said.

In addition to radiation, Bryan’s treatment plan includes infusion treatments for one year. At first, he received the regimen every three weeks, but that has since been modified to one treatment every six weeks.

However, before Bryan’s infusions began, he was told that treatment might have to start at the Cancer Center’s Essen Lane location before moving to Gonzales once the service was available. However, the infusion suite opened up in time, and Bryan has taken every treatment at his community cancer center.

“It’s very comforting to know that I can get here in 10 minutes,” he said.

Having treatment resources in what is essentially his backyard has meant he has one less thing to worry about.

My work is here,” he said. “I live here. It’s just so much easier to stay here.”

Beyond the comfort Gonzales’ expanded offerings have provided, Bryan says the convenience of navigating far less traffic has been a major perk.

Understanding how one accident can snarl any commute and lead to missed appointments, Bryan cherishes knowing the backroads, if necessary, to get to the Cancer Center in Gonzales.

For team members who also live in the community, they’ve noticed the benefits infusion and chemotherapy services closer to home provide patients receiving treatment and other support services, including Bryan.

“People are grateful to not have to travel so far, especially with gas being expensive,” Ashley Alleman, R.N., infusion nurse, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, said.

Ashley understands that, too. She’s in the same boat as many of her patients – living closer to the Ascension Parish location, and thus not having to travel as far for work.

“We all have that in common,” she said.

With this spring’s addition to the Gonzales location, Ashley says treatments are less disruptive to the patients’ schedules who live and work in Ascension Parish and surrounding areas.

That includes Bryan, who works in appliance repair. He spends much of his day on the phone and used to have to pull over to conduct business while driving. Now, he can get started while sitting in his treatment chair and be ready to get right to work when he walks out.

“I generally handle business while I wait on my infusion,” he said.” If I’ve got to handle a phone call, I’ll handle it. I’ve even ordered parts while I’m sitting here.”

Those added advantages, Ashley says, make all the difference for patients.

“Having cancer, in general, is a burden,” she said. “For him to keep his daily functions the same, without altering them, is great. It’s wonderful for me to see him sitting there, working, not stressing about the big picture, let alone his work routine.”

Mary Bird Perkins in Gonzales now offers radiation and infusion therapy, state-of-the-art imaging, support and survivorship services, as well as prevention, education and early detection programs.