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Together We Triumph: How words translate into action at Mary Bird Perkins

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Care, Discover, Empower and Triumph, like every word in the English language, have a dictionary definition. But they take on different meanings inside Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. These four words are part of the Cancer Center’s newest messaging platform: Together We Triumph. As team members, from physicians to nurses and beyond, continue to further the Cancer Center’s mission to improve survivorship and lessen the burden of cancer, these four words are set in motion daily. Here’s what Care, Discover, Empower and Triumph mean to some of our team members:

Care

Reagan Sweet HeadshotCare is something patients expect in a healthcare setting; at the cancer center, it’s at the heart of all we do. From the moment patients walk through the door, team members aim to settle nerves by providing soothing and steady care throughout the entire treatment process.

Care and compassion are the building blocks for developing a trusting relationship with any patient,” Raegan Sweet, infusion nurse, said.

Raegan Sweet, infusion nurse

To Raegan, care goes beyond treatment. It might be a “touch of the hand, a nice smile” or “a wave in the hallway.” But care is demonstrated in an infinite number of ways at Mary Bird Perkins.

“We reassure patients that we are going to do everything we can to make them comfortable and provide the highest quality of clinical care,” Raegan said.

Discover

David Solis, Ph.DIn the more than five decades since Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center first opened its doors, cancer care has continued to evolve. So too have the Cancer Center’s physicians, nurses and support staff in diagnosing cancer earlier and efficiently crafting the most individualized patient treatment plans. That evolution is spurred by state-of-the-art imaging technology, including digital X-ray, CT, nuclear medicine, SPECT/CT, PET/CT, digital fluoroscopy and MRI.

The Cancer Center has been able to maintain its place on the leading edge of cancer care thanks to constant discovery.

“To me, discovery is very positive,” David Solis, medical physics, said. “It is the precursor to innovation and problem-solving. When we discover something new, we open a new world of possibilities.”

David Solis, medical physics

As patients undergo radiation treatment, David is likely behind the scenes making sure technology is functioning optimally. He and other medical physicists typically split their time between that clinical work and research. It is through that research, that David and others can discover, diagnosing cancer earlier and improving current treatment options while also finding potential new avenues for patient care.

“In the world of medical physics, this could be the discovery of new ideas, technologies, concepts, or models that can lead to future solutions toward our fight against cancer while also enhancing current treatment capabilities for our patients,” David said.

David, like others, takes his responsibility to continue discovering new ways to save more lives seriously. That starts with diagnosing cancer earlier.

“If we don’t have discovery, we don’t move forward,” David said.

Empower

Kellie SchmeeckleWhen charting a treatment path, Dr. Kellie Schmeeckle, medical oncologist, sees her patients more as partners, collaborating on the best course of action. At Mary Bird Perkins, priority is placed on establishing a strong physician-patient relationship to help empower those we serve to make the best choices for their unique conditions.

“When people understand what our reasoning is for a certain treatment, they’re much more open to it,” Dr. Schmeeckle said. “Then we can move forward with treating their cancer.”

Explaining procedures and the overall treatment process, Dr. Schmeeckle says, empowers patients with the information to better understand what lies ahead.

“As a physician, I view my role as helping guide my patient through their cancer journey,” Dr. Schmeeckle said. “To empower my patient to feel more confident about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”

Dr. Schmeeckle, radiation oncology

August will mark 15 years since Dr. Schmeeckle began practicing at the Cancer Center. In that time, the number of individualized treatments available to patients has, in her words, exploded. With more cancer-specific tools at her fingertips, she says engagement with patients is critical. That’s why she always looks to empower them by partnering in selecting the best treatment plan.

Triumph

LaTreaka Williams headshotWhen patients first arrive at the Cancer Center, LaTreaka Williams, patient navigator, is the first face many will see. From the moment of diagnosis, through treatment, and onto survivorship, LaTreaka’s focus is on making the journey easier for patients and their families.

“Whatever needs you may have, I’ll take care of them,” she said. “I want you to be concerned about your treatment and the healing process while I remove any other obstacles to ensure you receive the best care.”

LaTreaka says. Even though transportation is just one element of providing an exemplary patient care experience, every little triumph, she adds, can help soothe a patient’s nerves during a fight with cancer.

“You can be having a perfect day,” LaTreaka says, “and the next day you’re told you have cancer. There are a lot of concerns. I can help take away some of those concerns. That’s it, that’s a triumph by itself.”

LaTreaka Williams, patient navigator

Just because LaTreaka aims to triumph over all patient concerns brought on by a cancer diagnosis, doesn’t mean the effort is easy. Providing patients with confidence by meeting, and often exceeding their needs, LaTreaka says, also provides her something, too: exaltation. That feeling routinely pushes her to make sure her patients never go without.

Triumph is going above and beyond,” LaTreaka said. “Don’t stop at ‘no.’ I’ll never stop at ‘no’ when it comes to ensuring a patient’s journey is as smooth as possible.”

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