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Cancer Care Center provides treatment, comfort to patients

The Cancer Care Center of Demopolis sees about 50 patients a day, with 10-15 a week coming in for chemotherapy. While the center treats every type of cancer, Ashley Petrey, RN, said that the three most common cancers being treated are lung, breast and colon.

Dr. Shawn Tai, Medical Oncologist and Hematologist, treats all types of cancers and blood disorders, such as iron deficiency anemia, at the center, which is located at the Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hosptial.

Dr. Shawn Tai and RN Ashley Petrey at the Cancer Care Center of Demopolis.

“It is my honor and privilege to be able to provide oncology care in a very needy community,” he said.

The center also manages patients that are on therapies due to cancer or blood disorders. Patients with acute leukemia and acute lymphoma go to UAB for initial treatments, such as bone marrow transplants, with the center taking care of patients in between or following these treatments.

“We do bone marrow biopsies here in the clinic to get that initial diagnosis and depending on those results we can either treat them here or send them there,” Petrey said.

Treatments available at the center include chemotherapy, radiation, iron infusions for anemia, and injections for osteoporosis and anemia caused by chronic kidney disease. The center also provides IV infusions for supportive measures for patients under chemotherapy.

On staff, they have three doctors, three chemotherapy-certified nurses, an LPN for lab work and injections and a radiation therapist.

Because of the close-knit environment, the staff also provides emotional support for patients and their families.

“I feel like we offer a very personal experience. We know our patients by name. Because of the small numbers, we’re able to just provide that little bit of extra love,” Petrey said.

For any patients struggling with any part of their treatment, such as costs or transportation, the center finds programs that will ease that burden. Patients also get support from the THA Foundation 4 Cancer, Marengo County Relay for Life and monthly fundraisers.

The center keeps a closet full of items donated from various organizations such as the American Cancer Society, Pink Ladies and International Paper Company. Some items include wigs, mastectomy supplies, hats, blankets and word puzzles.

The center will also work with patients on their needs, especially around the holidays.

“If they’re sick the week after their treatment, then we wouldn’t want to give them a treatment the week before Thanksgiving when they’re wanting to spend it with their families,” Petrey said.

The center is open 8-4:30 on Mondays-Thursdays and 8-2 on Fridays. There is an on-call physician available 24/7.

While Dr. Tai is leaving the center in late December, his position will be filled by Dr. Laura Bunch, Medical Oncologist and Hematologist, who already has an established relationship with the patients.

To donate money or items to the Cancer Care Center of Demopolis, contact Donna Gandy at THA Foundation 4 Cancer at 334-287-2423 or info@bwwmh.com.

(This article was originally published in the Wednesday, November 8 print edition of the Demopolis Times.)