ONEIDA — Upstate Cancer Center at Oneida will celebrate more than a quarter century of cancer care with a public ceremony and reception Wednesday, May 22, that will feature remarks from physicians and grateful patients.
The celebration runs from 4:30-6:30 p.m., with a brief ceremony at 5 p.m. The event takes place at the Upstate Cancer Center at Oneida, 603-605 Seneca St.
“The Upstate Cancer Center at Oneida is grateful to be serving patients and their families in this community for more than 25 years,” said Dr. Jeffrey Bogart, professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology and interim director of the Upstate Cancer Center. “When we reach a milestone such as this, it’s important to reflect on the past, but also to look ahead to the future and our continued presence in this community as we provide the best in cancer care close to home.”
In addition to Bogart, featured speakers include Dr. Steven Graziano, professor of medicine and division chief of Upstate Cancer Center Adult Hematology/Oncology; Dr. Linda Schicker, assistant professor of Radiation Oncology; and two patients who will speak about their battle with cancer.
One of the patient speakers, Kathleen Tamer of Utica, will celebrate 13 years of remission this July. Tamer was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2004, after she was unable to get over a nagging upper respiratory ailment. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer that starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the body’s immune system. It is the seventh most common cancer in men and women in the country.
Her cancer treatments included drug infusions every three weeks for an entire year.
Tamer endured the treatments and her cancer diagnosis with the help of her family, friends and co-workers at the state Department of Transportation. Especially supportive were the physicians and others treating her at Upstate, especially Graziano.
“He is a calm and compassionate man who continues to ensure that I’m OK,” Tamer said, who visits the Upstate Cancer Center at Oneida twice a year for a check-up.
Tamer enjoys spending her retirement and a new lease on life with family, work at her church and her quilting.
Also speaking will be Jacqueline Rose of Canastota, who heads up the Upstate Cancer Center support group, which meets the third Thursday of every month.
Rose was diagnosed with triple negative cell breast cancer, a kind of breast cancer where the three most common types of receptors known to fuel breast cancer growth are not present in the tumor. This type of cancer can be more aggressive and difficult to treat. In addition to her diagnosis, further testing at Upstate found her to have the PALB2 genetic abnormality that increases her risk of breast cancer.
But after 16 rounds of two different types of chemotherapy and a lumpectomy, Rose is cancer free.
“I am so grateful to my family, friends and everyone at the Upstate Cancer Center at Oneida for being with me along this journey,” she said. Rose discovered a quarter-sized lump under her arm near her breast, which raised the alarm to get examined by a physician.
“I tell everyone know to check themselves for lumps and bumps and not just on your breasts, but under your arms and everywhere,” she said.
The most difficult thing about her cancer treatment with chemotherapy was losing her hair.
But Rose decided to have fun with this chemotherapy side effect. In addition to wearing hats and bandanas, Rose decided to make a fashion statement and wear “crazy” earrings.
“It was a way to deflect the conversation away from not having any hair,” Rose said. “People loved to see what I would wear.”
Rose felt so good about how the crazy earring conversations went — which eventually would get around to discussing her cancer diagnosis and raising awareness of the disease — that she decided to introduce a crazy earring giveaway at the Upstate Cancer Center at Oneida.
Patients at the center can now choose a pair of earrings from a pink basket, as a gift from Rose.
“My own turn at breast cancer has made me want to help other women who are going through this experience as well,” Rose said. “Everyone has been so supportive to me that I want to give back.”
The Upstate Cancer Center at Oneida
The Upstate Cancer Center at Oneida is dedicated to providing patients in the region with convenient access to cancer care. Here, patients are cared for by the same leading doctors, cancer teams and technology as at the main site, the Upstate Cancer Center, in Syracuse.
As cancers are different, patients have access to an entire team dedicated to their type of cancer. This expert team reviews each case and recommends the most personalized care for every patient. In addition to having the newest technology on site, patients at Upstate’s Oneida location have the same access to treatments, such as immunotherapy and clinical trials, as do patients at Upstate’s main location.
Having high-quality cancer care closer to home is an additional benefit. It reduces the stress of travel and keeps patients close to their regular routines. The Upstate Cancer Center at Oneida also works closely with patients’ regular doctors and keep them updated on their care.
As the site in Oneida has served patients for more than 25 years, many of the doctors and nurses have long-standing ties, friendships and appreciation for the people in the community.
The Upstate Cancer Center at Oneida opened in May 1992 in the basement of the Wee Care building in Oneida, with weekly visits by Upstate Medical University physicians to evaluate new patients, hold follow-up appointments and provide assessment, diagnosis and treatment recommendations for patients with cancer and blood disorders.
The center provides full services to patients with a diagnosis of solid tumor or hematologic malignancy. Services on site include new patient intake and assessment, treatment with chemotherapy and with cutting edge therapies including immunotherapy which has provided successful management and even complete remissions of cancer in many patients.
The cancer center currently treats a full spectrum of cancer patients who require radiation in the new suite next to our main satellite office in Oneida. Referrals for new patients includes assessment, confirming diagnosis, evaluating for treatment recommendations, collaboration with oncology/hematology, radiation therapy and surgery to consider individualized recommendations and prioritizing an overall comprehensive plan.
The expansion of cancer services for patients in the Oneida region includes the newest technology provided by TrueBeam Radiotherapy System, the same advanced image-guided radiation oncology technology used at the Upstate Cancer Center in Syracuse. Fast and powerful, TrueBeam provides highly precise three-dimensional, IMRT and SBRT treatment for tumors in critical locations such as prostate, head and neck and CNS cancer, as well as tumors affected by breathing motion, including lung, breast, liver and pancreatic cancer.
The Upstate Cancer Center at Oneida also hosts a cancer support group, Our Voice, that meets every third Thursday of the month, from 6-7:30 p.m. at DME Reiki and Wellness Center, 410 NE Canal St., Canasta. The sessions often feature a guest speaker. For more information, call 315-361-1041. Educational seminars for the local medical community to provide updates on the newest treatments in cancer care are also offered.