Today, 12 years ago, my life's priorities changed dramatically when my wife's doctor uttered three words, "you have cancer."
Lori was only 32 and our daughter was 14 months old. Three simple words pushed the pause button on our careers, our business, our community commitments and our role as parents. Lori's journey of survivorship was successful for many reasons, including selecting the best medical team and the best technology to get us through.
We were grateful for the investments and commitments so many had made years before cancer came to our doorstep. Having the technology and tools in place would save Lori's life and create a successful pathway to survivorship. Never again would we take for granted the talent and commitment of the medical professionals who have dedicated their careers to seek out ways to improve and increase our lives.
One great example of this forward thinking commitment in Statesboro is the South Georgia Center for Cancer Care, located at 27 Lester Road.
Founded in 1989, three entrepreneurial Savannah doctors saw the need to expand radiation oncology services to Statesboro. Drs. John Duttenhaver, Dent Purcell and David Weems were on staff at Memorial Medical Center in Savannah at the time.
Their focus was establishing a treatment facility so cancer patients would not have to drive to Savannah daily for treatments. Radiation Oncology treatments can be as frequent as five days per week and last up to eight weeks. However, patients would continue to travel to Savannah for evaluation and planning.
In 2008, Dr. Weems purchased the center outright and invested more than $1 million to expand the facility into a free standing one. Now patients can get their treatment, plans and evaluations in Statesboro with Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy and Image Guided Radiation Therapy.
In 2011, eplus cancer care, based out of Nashville, Tenn., purchased the center. Weems remained in place, serving as the medical director.
"Detection, proper treatment and survivorship from cancer requires a team effort," Weems said. "We are one part of that team. We have spent years building great relationships with doctors and hospitals in this community and throughout the region who have tremendous confidence in us as we do in them. These, along with a talented and committed staff at South Georgia Cancer Center, are the reasons we have been successful. When I decided to sell the center it was critical that I find a group that agreed with our mission and would continue it."
Josh Johnson, senior vice president of Business Development at eplus agrees.
"We believe in a patient centric approach, collaborating with local providers in order to deliver high quality cancer care in the community," he said. "Through our partnership with the South Georgia Center for Cancer Care we will continue to explore areas to improve and expand our services to provide Statesboro easily accessible advanced cancer care."
After spending nearly 30 years working in radiation oncology, most of that time in Statesboro, Weems decided to retire and he selected Dr. Marc Apple as his replacement. Like Dr. Weems, Apple chose this field of medicine because of the unique relationship you establish with patients. Nearly two thirds of patients diagnosed with cancer will undergo radiation therapy in their lifetime.
"When you see patients daily for weeks on end, you have to have strong people skills and enjoy that part of creating a successful relationship to enjoy this type work." Apple said.
Apple is a native of Boca Raton, Fla., and has more than 19 years of clinical experience in Radiation Oncology and specialty treatment program development. Apple holds over eight medical device patents and has been a consultant with several international medical innovation companies.
"I am excited about being a new Statesboro resident. I look forward to working within a community of peers and patients deserving and supportive of world-class cancer care close to home," Apple said.