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More Than a Number

Bill's StoryWhen cancer invaded the Bill Kessler household in Tipp City twice in the past five years, they turned to the Upper Valley Medical Center’s Cancer Care Center. After receiving initial treatment in Cincinnati, the Kesslers’ decided Betty would work with the Cancer Care Center, which was much closer to home.

“The people here are so nice, so friendly,” Bill Kessler said of the staff at the Cancer Care Center and the hospital. 

“When we first started coming here, they never came out and said ‘Mrs. Kessler.’ It was Betty. They call you by your first name, which makes things a little easier,” he said, adding, “You feel like you are more than a number.”

His wife, Betty, received radiation therapy at the center for ovarian cancer before her death in summer 2007.

In February 2010, Bill Kessler was diagnosed with cancer in the lower esophagus and upper stomach. Because he would not undergo surgery, his choices came down to care in Dayton or UVMC.

“I checked them out and the Upper Valley Cancer Care Center is equal to or better than any in Montgomery County. That is a fact,” Kessler said.

When he heard the word cancer, Kessler equated the diagnosis with a death sentence.

“This staff, they put you at ease,” he said. “When I was coming in here, they’d come out and say, ‘Alright, Bill.’ They were very friendly, very warm. It makes a difficult time for the patients a lot easier.’”

Most people, on initial visits to the center, are experiencing fear and anxiety, said Jean Heath, Cancer Care Center Director. “We try to educate patients as they come in individually so they know what is going on during their journey. We can’t give it all to you in one day because it overwhelms you,” Heath said.

Kessler said he had an advantage when his diagnosis was made because of what he had gone through with his wife. He did further research on the Internet and by talking with people he knew and, again, turned to UVMC.

“Your credentials don’t tell you what your people are like. That’s the difference. I am certain other facilities would be good, but this is Miami County, there are Miami County people working here and we’re a different kind of people than Columbus or Dayton people,” he said.

Heath agreed with Keller’s sentiment. “People here care about each other. We leave our work and run into you at the grocery, at the mall. You want patients to be able to say, ‘I got really good care there,’” she said

Kessler said more people need to know about Dr. Ronald Setzkorn, medical director of radiation oncology, who trained at Vanderbilt University and came to UVMC from Johns Hopkins Hospital. “It is quite amazing. We are fortunate to have a man of this caliber at this hospital,” he said.

Kessler, 81, still is undergoing chemotherapy. He takes homemade cookies and Rice Crispy treats to hospital and the Cancer Center staffs during his visits. “This is a little way of saying ‘thank you.’ I just like them to know there are people out there who appreciate what they do, and how they handle their job,” he said. “You will not get better care in any hospital around here.”