The statistics on cancer can tell you a lot about this disease. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that more than 1.5 million people each year get a new cancer diagnosis. Here in Montana, more than five thousand people will hear that they have cancer this year. That makes it likely that you know someone with this disease—or are a cancer patient yourself.
But there’s another part to the cancer story. As research finds improved methods for diagnosis and treatment, many people with cancer are living much longer. In fact, the overall 5-year survival rate for all cancers has risen nearly 20 percent since the 1970s. And many new cancer treatments are less likely to cause side effects than those in the past.
At Community Medical Center, Community Cancer Care is dedicated to providing the latest cancer treatment in the most comfortable and caring setting possible.
The latest therapies
Research continues to produce innovative treatments for cancer. At Community that includes minimally invasive procedures such as using the da Vinci surgical robot for some cancer surgeries. This type of surgery can result in fewer complications and shorter hospital stays than traditional surgery.
Chemotherapy at Community uses proven drugs and treatment protocols to deliver the precise dosages required for the best outcomes. And we ensure the safety of the medicines we use by preparing them here on site in our chemotherapy pharmacy. Chemotherapy pharmacies require highly specialized equipment and techniques, including pressurized rooms to protect against contaminants. Our system meets the highest government standards for these facilities.
As radiation therapy continues to advance, Community will remain at the forefront with technologies such as the multileaf collimator. This system targets the precise area of the tumor while sparing surrounding healthy tissue, resulting in fewer side effects. Another technique, called hypofractionated radiation therapy, shortens the duration of radiation therapy from several weeks to one session.
Chemotherapy patients at Community Cancer Care are cared for by doctors from Montana Cancer Specialists, a private physicians’ group in association with Community Medical Center. These cancer experts include:
Patrick G. Beatty, MD, PhD. Dr. Beatty has 27 years of experience treating people with cancer. He is also the principal investigator for the Montana Cancer Institute, a research facility. Cancer patients at Community Cancer Care can apply to participate in one of the Institute’s research trials.
William C. Nichols, MD. Dr. Nichols has been practicing for more than 30 years. In addition to treating cancer patients, he has lectured and published widely on issues in oncology.
Debra Rivey, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker who is certified in oncology care by the Board of Oncology Social Work.
Elizabeth Kellogg, RD, a registered dietician who specializes in oncology nutrition.
All of the nurses who care for patients at Community Cancer Care are certified in oncology care by the Oncology Nursing Society.
Community Cancer Center is designed for your comfort, and it starts even before you walk in the door. You’ll find plenty of parking close by and a heated walkway eliminates slippery walks in winter.
Inside, the bright, welcoming lobby is backed by a double-sided fireplace and ringed with comfortable couches and chairs. The registration kiosks are designed for privacy, and our staff are dedicated to making your visit as uncomplicated and stress-free as possible.
During chemotherapy treatment, you can expect to sit comfortably in one of our specially-designed recliners, some of which include heat and massage options. And since each cancer patient is different, we designed our treatment areas to accommodate your personal choices for privacy or company. Semi-private treatment areas allow conversation with neighboring patients, with the option of more privacy by simply drawing the wrap-around curtain. Patients who need to lie down during treatment, or just want to be alone, can use one of our private rooms.
Flat-screen TVs are available on request, with Netflix streaming on the menu. We also loan iPads to our patients for their time with us. Or you can look out over the landscaped Healing Garden right outside the large windows, with the foothills in the background.
We also help you deal with the basics, such as:
- Meals. You can purchase food from our Big Sky Café—and have it delivered—with a call to Cuisine-On-Call.
- Transportation. People who don’t have a way to get to treatments can get there with Road to Recovery. The ACS sponsors this program, which provides free rides to and from Community Cancer Care for people in Missoula, Mineral and Ravalli Counties.
- Lodging. If you live farther than 50 miles or 90 minutes away, and can’t afford to stay overnight during outpatient care, you may be able to stay free or at a reduced rate in one of the rooms donated by local hotels. Your doctor, nurse or other caregiver can get you started with the application and reservation processes, which are coordinated by the ACS.
- Information. The ACS staffs a cancer resource center in the lobby at Community Cancer Care. This library contains information about all types of cancer and cancer care, and ACS volunteers are knowledgeable and eager to help you find what you need.
Treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are at the center of your cancer care. But we understand that you have a constellation of other issues going on at the same time. At Community Cancer Care, we make it our job to lighten that load.
For example, nearly everyone with cancer also deals with stress and anxiety. That’s an important issue in your healing and we check how you are feeling at every visit—not only about your health but also your finances, your relationships and other issues. Our licensed clinical social worker, Debra Rivey, counsels patients about these concerns and also helps them find resources to assist with finances and other practical matters.
Our experts also help patients with:
- Pain. Cancer pain can require specialized treatment. Our pain management team works with each patient to ensure their pain is treated quickly and effectively.
- Nutrition. Cancer and cancer treatments can change how you eat and the way your body uses food. Each patient has unique dietary needs, and our cancer dietician Elizabeth Kellogg, RD, meets with patients and their families to develop individualized nutrition plans. This helps patients stay well nourished and maintain their weight during treatment.
- Appearance. Look Good Feel Better is a program from the ACS that helps women with cancer. You can join a session at Community Cancer Care, where a licensed cosmetologist will give advice on makeup, wigs, skin care and other ways to boost your spirits by looking good. Call 396-9026 to sign up or learn more. In addition, we have dedicated a room to supplying and fitting women with the right wig—for free. Hats and scarves are also available there.
- End-of-life issues. Every adult should have a living will, which describes the types of treatment you want if you become unable to make choices on your own. We can help you create one of these documents. For people with a short life expectancy, we partner with home health agencies to assist with pain control and other palliative care. And we help patients make choices for hospice care.
Patients as partners
Cancer treatment is never easy. But at Community Cancer Care, patients often return or send cards to thank us for the compassionate and thoughtful care they received. You can be assured that as a patient here you will be a partner in your treatment, and that your quality of life will be our top priority.
Ready to learn more about your treatment?
Click here for a choice of interactive videos about cancer treatments available at Community Medical Center.