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A Personal Touch

Sally's StoryWhen she first moved to Miami County, Columbus native Sally Rudy thought she’d have to travel to a big city medical center for treatment of any major illness. Her experiences with the care available in her own backyard at Upper Valley Medical Center (UVMC) have changed her mind.

“There is a personal touch that you get from being a person, and not just a number, in a really large hospital,” Rudy said.

She has come to know those at the UVMC Cancer Care Center very well during the past dozen years. First, she accompanied her son, Brian, to his daily treatment sessions 11 years ago when he was battling testicular cancer as a college student. Last year, Rudy returned—this time as the patient.

Screening and diagnostic mammograms in January 2009 brought a breast cancer diagnosis for the teacher who retired from Covington Elementary School in 2007 after 30 years. After undergoing a biopsy and then surgery in March, she made the daily trek to the Cancer Care Center  for 37 days of radiation treatment.

“I was very thankful it was just a short drive for me,” Rudy said. “I was so happy that I was able to have my surgery and my treatment here. It meant a lot because I know people who had to travel to Columbus,” she said. “I think that would have added much, much more stress. I knew I was getting good care here.”

She recalled how Dr. Ronald Setzkorn, radiation oncologist serving as Director of Radiation for the Cancer Care Center, assured her that a “really great team” would handle her care.

“From the time I stepped in the door, to the time I left, it was maybe 10 minutes. They were very efficient, on time, and yet they were very professional,” Rudy said of the Cancer Care Center staff. “I was not stressed out coming here for treatment every day.”

About 500 new cases come to the Cancer Care Center each year. Most are local residents, all requiring the professional approach, but also personal touch, as earlier described by Rudy, said Jean Heath, director of the Cancer Care Center.

“When you work close to home you are dealing with people who will see you at the grocery store, or will be with you someplace in the community. Their reputation is on the line as well,” Heath said of the center’s staff. “They have learned how to do that special touch without being too invasive. They have found a balance with helping patients along on this journey.”

Rudy said it is important for cancer patients to realize they are not alone in the journey. “I think more and more people realize that. Almost everyone, in some way, has been touched by cancer either through a family member or friend,” she said.

She admits to having a “soft spot” for people she sees entering the Cancer Care Center. “You just know a little bit of what they might be going through,” Rudy said.