For more than 25 years, the Hematology Oncology Center in Elyria has been administering treatment to patients in Lorain County and surrounding areas that’s compassionate, comprehensive and cutting-edge. Here, nurse practitioner Sienna Collins describes the center’s commitment to the personalized care the staff is renowned for.
The diagnosis of cancer strikes fear into the hearts of all who hear it. What’s the first step patients should take?
A: When patients hear the word cancer, they’re scared because they don’t know what lies ahead. Diagnostic testing is the first step. When that’s completed, patients meet with the doctor to discuss treatment options. Once they decide on a plan, they meet with me and I educate them on what to expect. Leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma are the most common blood cancers we see here. Even though sometimes there may not be a cure, many of these types of cancers are highly treatable. There are patients who can live for years or go into remission for years with treatments we have.
Are there other illnesses you treat?
A: We also see patients diagnosed with lung, colorectal and breast cancer.
What concerns do patients express to staff members?
A: Our social worker deals with psychosocial fears patients have. They may include financial concerns caused by the fact that their diagnosis has forced them to stop working. Others worry about whether or not a mastectomy or lumpectomy will affect their body image, so we set up a meeting with the surgeon to discuss their concerns. We’re also dedicated to allaying their emotional fears.
What are some of the personal services you offer that patients appreciate?
A: One of our specialties is medication. We send orders to our pharmacy in Florida, a representative contacts the patient and their prescription usually gets delivered to them the next day. The process is really easy and convenient. We also offer in-house laboratory services, so patients can come here for routine blood and pathology work. Our cure management services team reaches out to patients starting treatment to help them with symptom management and nutritional concerns that focus on the person as a whole, and not just the cancer. It’s a holistic approach patients positively respond to.
Is there anything else you’d like patients to know about the Hematology Oncology Center?
A: We focus on patient satisfaction to the point that when they visit us for the first time, they already feel welcome. The center is a place where they can trust us with their life. We make sure their cancer journey is supported and comfortable.
Sienna Collins shares tips for staying ahead of sickness.
Maintain a healthy diet. “Many studies have found that excess weight plays an important role in cancer development and recurrence,” she says. “We stress following a diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables daily. We advise filling at least two-thirds of your plate with vegetables, fruits and whole grains — and one-third or less with animal products. Try to limit red meat or processed meat as much as possible.”
Get moving. “We recommend 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise five days per week,” Collins says. “Obviously, this is different for patients who are actively going through chemotherapy because fatigue and side effects are probably the biggest issues they have after treatment. For those folks, we recommend light, moderate walking for 30 minutes a day.”
Avoid or limit the use of alcohol, especially if you’re undergoing chemotherapy. “Certain chemo treatments metabolize through the liver,” she says. “Alcohol
does too, which could cause liver issues [including swelling and inflammation].”
Stop smoking. “We see patients who have been diagnosed with lung cancer but continue to smoke,” Collins says. “It can be difficult to quit, even if you’re going through treatment. We do offer smoking cessation resources for patients who want them, including nicotine patches and nicotine gum. We don’t force anyone to quit, but we’re ready to help them when they’re ready.”
For more information about the Hematology Oncology Center, visit elyriahoc.com.