Med Advances Article
They may have a new name, but the vision and mission are still the same for the physicians and employees of Illinois CancerCare in Peoria – providing state-of-the-art treatments for patients fighting against cancer and blood diseases, while also staying on the leading edge of breakthrough research and medicines.
Director of marketing Kollet Walty said, after 30 years, it was time to change the name of the former Oncology Hematology Associates of Central Illinois. The new name is easier to say and it is easier for people who need services to find the facility.
“The only people who knew or used that acronym OHACI was our staff and patients, but it meant nothing to anyone else,” Walty said. “We believe Illinois CancerCare is easier to remember and states clearly what we do.”
However, the cosmetic upgrade of the title does not mean there has been a change in services. At its location at the Peoria Cancer Center on Route 91 – and at the 15 other locations they boast throughout Illinois – the care a patient receives is truly comprehensive.
Walty noted that patients see their physicians and receive their chemotherapy or other treatments at Illinois CancerCare, and also benefit from the facility’s PET/CT scanner, which is the very latest technology, full lab, pharmacy and café.
“The care everyone has come to expect will remain the same under the new name because we have always tried to treat not only the disease, but also help with all of the patient and caregiver needs,” said Walty.
Other ancillary services provided at the Peoria Cancer Center include yoga, massage, nutritional and psychosocial counseling.
During the three decades doctors and staff have cared for Central Illinois patients, Walty said, they have never turned down someone for an inability to pay for services. In fact, they have full-time employees whose job is to secure medication and treatments for those less fortunate. “Many people suffer very trying times due to their illness, and the last thing we want to happen is for them to worry about these things,” Walty explained. “We don’t have to do this. We want to,” she added. Walty noted one of the most powerful tools to assist a patient, and his or her family or caregiver, in the cancer journey is knowledge. This is why Illinois CancerCare prides itself on offering the latest clinical trials and advanced treatments.
“The breadth of research we have going on here is on par with any institution around the country – and that research ultimately provides hope for a cure,” Walty said, adding Illinois CancerCare received a national award in 2007 for being one of the Top 10 community cancer centers for their participation in clinical research trials nationwide.
Illinois CancerCare has been involved in clinical research since 1978, just one year after opening its doors, and has anywhere from 120 to 150 active studies going at any one time. It has research affiliations with the Mayo Clinic, the North Central Cancer Treatment Group, the research consortium located at the University of Chicago, to name a few. These partnerships allow them to bring the latest treatment options to Central Illinois patients that are only available through clinical cancer research trials.
The group was also a part of what changed things both nationally and internationally in terms of adjuvant therapy and colon cancer.
A trial that Illinois CancerCare physicians put together was the first to show postoperative benefit in high-risk colon cancer patients. Subsequent trials the group led, along with Mayo Clinic, are now considered the standard of care both nationally and abroad in adjuvant colon and rectal cancer. “We played a vital part in early research of several drugs that have become very important in the arsenal of chemotherapy and supportive drugs used nationwide,” said Walty. “The treatments of today are due to the trials of yesterday.”
Early detection of cancer greatly increases chances of survival as well. Therefore, the physicians have funded educational programs, hosted awareness events and collaborated on various pre-screening events in various Illinois communities.
The Peoria Cancer Center Foundation was also formed to help with the under funding of clinical cancer research dollars. According to Walty, there have been government funding cuts for four years straight, and it is getting worse every year.
“Our physicians paid out more than $250,000 themselves to fund the shortage, and it could ultimately cause clinical trials to be scaled back,” noted Walty. “We need to help bring more patients into these trials in central Illinois, not less.”
As one of the largest private oncology practices in the nation, Walty said Illinois CancerCare is proud to say they’ve helped countless individuals overcome cancer to live healthy, inspiring lives.
“Until there is a cure for cancer, the residents of Central Illinois can be assured that they can receive no better care than that at Illinois CancerCare, period,” said Walty.