Archive for the ‘Cancer’ Category

So, how much do you know about breast cancer?

Test your knowledge of six common beliefs about breast cancer.

1. You can get breast cancer even if it doesn’t run in your family. True or false?

True. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer – more than 85% – have no family history of the disease. Having a relative with breast cancer does increase your risk. But other factors such as age, being overweight, alcohol use, and hormone therapy after menopause can also increase your risk of developing breast cancer.

2. If breast cancer runs in your family, you’re sure to get it. True or false?

False. Having breast cancer in your family doesn’t guarantee you’ll get it. Many times, cancer runs in families because they have similar lifestyle habits – habits you can control and change to lower your risk of breast cancer. This includes staying at a healthy weight, getting regular physical activity, and not smoking.

If you do suspect you have an inherited gene mutation, talk to your doctor about genetic counseling. The most common defects or mutations that increase breast cancer risk are in the BRCA genes. Knowing your family history empowers you to tackle the risk factors you can control. It should also motivate you to get screened regularly so that breast cancer is caught early – when it’s small, hasn’t spread, and is easier to treat. Talk to your doctor about what your risk is, when you need to start screening, and whether you need extra tests beyond mammograms.

3. You still need mammograms after menopause. True or false?

True. Getting older is not a reason to skip regular breast health checks. In fact, your risk of developing breast cancer goes up as you get older. About 2 out of 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women age 55 or older. As long as you’re in good health and would be a candidate for treatment, you should continue getting mammograms.

4. Men can get breast cancer. True or false?

True. More than 2,000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. Men should not ignore breast lumps and should get any breast changes checked. Still, breast cancer is about 100 times more common in women than men, with more than 240,000 women diagnosed in each year.

5. Surgery and needle biopsies can cause breast cancer to spread. True or false?

False. Needle biopsies to diagnose breast cancer do not cause cancer cells to spread to other parts of the body. Nor does exposure to air during breast cancer surgery cause the disease to spread. Sometimes a surgeon does find more cancer than the imaging scans or X-rays showed, but in those cases the cancer was already there. It just hadn’t shown up on tests that were done.

6. There’s nothing you can do to lower your breast cancer risk. True or false?

False. While you can’t change certain risk factors – like being female and having a family history of breast cancer – you can do a lot to help reduce your breast cancer risk as much as possible. In a word: lifestyle. Exercise more and eat healthier, especially if you’re overweight or obese. Limit or eliminate alcohol and quit smoking. Cancer prevention isn’t fool-proof, but being responsible about your health can go a long way.

Source: American Cancer Society

It’s October! Have you scheduled your screening at The Breast Center?

We know, the breast cancer screening guidelines are confusing. It’s no longer a “one-size-fits-all” recommendation. No one disputes that screening mammography is still the best option for detecting cancer early. Have a good chat with your doctor. It should be a shared decision with your personal feelings, coupled with your personal risk for breast cancer.

Whenever you wish to begin screening, your insurance should cover screening mammograms starting at age 40 nationwide with no deductible.

Second Act Inspires Murphysboro Woman to Give Back to Cancer Patients

Jeanette Myers is blind, but perhaps she sees things more clearly than most of us. The Carbondale woman was born with congenital glaucoma, but has not let visually impairment stop her from enjoying life.

Jeanette and her late husband, Lawre, moved from California to southern Illinois six years ago to be near one of their sons and granddaughters. Not one to sit still, she became involved in the SIH Second Act knitting and crocheting group.

As an outgrowth of that experience, Jeanette decided to knit a collection of “chemo caps” for patients undergoing treatment at the SIH Cancer Institute. She uses Braille tags to mark her work to make sure she knows which colors she is using. After the yarn work is complete, a friend sews the flower decorations onto the caps. “It’s not just a one-person activity,” Jeanette explained.

While she’s knitting the caps, she thinks about the personal challenges patients face during cancer treatment. “A lady undergoing chemotherapy who loses her hair may also lose her self-confidence. Maybe they will put on a cap and say, ‘I look pretty good.’”

The caps are not only fashionable, but also serve another purpose in keeping a patient’s head warm.


“We lose most of our body heat through our head,” said Jeanette. She even uses a special type of yarn that has a bit of elasticity to help keep the heat in.

Jeanette’s father, husband and sons all served in the military, so she is also passionate about helping veterans. She crochets lap throws, which she donates to the Anna Veteran’s Home. “I make them long enough they can cover up their feet,” she said, as she bent down, to show the length of the throws.

Giving to and helping others has been Jeanette’s life’s work. She founded Northern California Vision Resource Center in 1995, a non-profit organization that helped provide magnifiers, talking watches, Braille lessons and mobility training to the visually impaired.

Jeanette attended a grade school for the visually impaired and was able to attend a regular high school and college. She has trained guide dogs, taught brail, spoke at numerous seminars and helped others with vision problems. “I once taught Braille to a superior court judge,” said Jeanette.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be able and do a lot of things in my life,” said Jeanette. “I like to keep my hands busy. The Lord has allowed me to be productive.”

Whether one is born with an impairment or one develops over the years, Jeanette’s advice is simple, “Forget the ‘I can’t. You can still do things, just in a different way,” she said.

“I’ve been fortunate,” said Jeanette, adding that people should never be afraid to learn new things. “Life begins today.”

New Support Group for Cancer Patients

The SIH Cancer Institute Support Group is a new service offered the second Monday of each month at the SIH Cancer Institute in Carterville. Licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) Kristin Francis and certified oncology nurse, Krystal Zsido, lead the monthly sessions, which begin Monday, July 11.

SIH Cancer Institute Support Group
2nd Monday of the Month
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
At the SIH Cancer Institute in Carterville

The support group will offer an educational segment and an emotional support segment. “It will help patients gain knowledge about topics that can directly affect them in their treatment process, such as rehab services, financial services, coping, nutrition, and many others,” said Francis. “Emotional support will allow them to talk and vent with other patients, because they often feel they cannot share honest feelings and fears with their caregivers and loved ones.”

The group plans to have different guest speakers allowing the participants to get to know local resources and specialists.

“Our hope is that each participant will leave feeling a renewed sense of strength to continue fighting this disease,” said Francis.

For more details, call (618) 985-3333, extension 68315 or 68319. Participants do not need to be a current patient of the SIH Cancer Institute.

Fighting Colon Cancer: Keep up the Good Work!

The nationwide effort to prevent colon cancer is making a difference, in large part to people like you, who have taken an active approach to your health.

Since the mid-1980s, the colon cancer survival rate has been increasing for two reasons:

  • More people are getting screened for colon cancer
  • The treatment options have improved

But we can always do better. Colon cancer remains the third most common cancer diagnosis. Here are a few facts at a glance from Colon Cancer Alliance:


Your role in this effort is to continue to be proactive in your health, and to share your knowledge with others. Family members, friends, coworkers—tell them about the importance of screening.

Share this video about the importance.

At Southern Illinois Healthcare, we continue our efforts to provide you access to prevention, diagnosis and treatment of this disease. Here’s how:

  • These days, it should be common to hear your regular physician sharing information with you about colon cancer screening starting at age 50. Take his/her advice, and learn the different screening options.
  • Endoscopy services are available at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale Herrin Hospital, St. Joseph Memorial Hospital and the Physicians’ Surgery Center at Center for Medical Arts. In fact, St. Joseph recently expanded their services. Both facilities aim to make the exams both comfortable and safe.
  • Should you be diagnosed with colon cancer, you have access to a team of physicians who work together to offer the best plan of care. SIH has specialists in the field of gastroenterology, colon-rectal surgery, medical oncology and more who analyze all the aspects of your individual case.
  • With the SIH Cancer Institute, a dedicated treatment facility has made it easier for you to get the care you need, without the long drive to a metro area.

SIH Cancer Institute Celebrates 1 Year!

March 2nd marks the 1 Year Celebration of the SIH Cancer Institute. Some amazing work has happened, largely due to the support of the southern Illinois community members, like you.

Thanks to you, over 1000 new cancer patients received treatment in the last year. Their cancer journeys added up to over 13,000 visits through our doors!

Here’s a message from one of them

Clearly, the center was built for thousands of regional patients in need. You answered the call by joining us in the mission. You helped get us off the ground. It’s our honor to serve treatment to these patients with all the dignity, professionalism and strength they deserve.

“Our patients, who become like family, inspire us every day to ensure we continually grow and expand to meet their needs and those of their family members,” said Jennifer Badiu, System Director of the SIH Cancer Institute. “Our physicians and staff truly do love what they do, and it shows in every loving touch and warm smile.”

Some additional wins for the year include:

  • chaplain services
  • financial navigation
  • social work
  • supportive counseling
  • clinical trials
  • advances in infusion and radiation treatment services

We are proud of the accomplishments in a single year and we’ve only just begun. We ask for your continued support as we bring our patients hope, right here at home.

Your financial contributions play a role in helping our community get the cancer treatments they need in their own back yard. SIH Foundation is proud that a 100% of your funds go directly to the SIH Cancer Institute.

If you wish to give, contact the SIH Foundation at or please feel free to email or call 618.457.5200 ext 67843.

SIH Cancer Institute Receives National Outstanding Achievement Award

The SIH Cancer Institute was recently presented with the 2014 Outstanding Achievement Award by the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). SIH’s cancer program is one of a select group of only 75 U.S. health care facilities with accredited cancer programs to receive this national honor for surveys performed last year. The award acknowledges cancer programs that achieve excellence in providing quality care to cancer patients.

The purpose of the award is to raise awareness on the importance of providing quality cancer care at health care institutions throughout the U.S. In addition, it is intended to:

  • Motivate other cancer programs to work toward improving their level of care.
  • Facilitate dialogue between award recipients and healthcare professionals at other cancer facilities for the purpose of sharing best practices.
  • Encourage honorees to serve as quality-care resources to other cancer programs.
  • Educate cancer patients on available quality-care options.

“This is a great honor and a direct reflection of dedicated physicians and staff. This recognition shows that we strive every day with every patient to go above and beyond, because that is what each patient and family deserves. We are honored to serve our community,” said SIH Cancer Institute System Director Jennifer Badiu.

SIH’s cancer program was evaluated on 34 program standards categorized within one of four cancer program activity areas: cancer committee leadership, cancer data management, clinical services, and quality improvement. The cancer program was further evaluated on seven commendation standards. To be eligible, all award recipients must have received commendation ratings in all seven commendation standards, in addition to receiving a compliance rating for each of the 27 other standards.

“Our goal at the SIH Cancer Institute is to provide the best individualized care for our patients. We are humbled and honored to receive this national recognition. Of note, this is a continuous effort; one that is ongoing to meet the needs of our patients with best practices and evidence-based cancer treatment today and into the future,” said Dr. George Kao, medical director of radiation oncology.

Click here for a list of all cancer programs in the U.S. that received the award.

About the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer

Established in 1922 by the ACS, the CoC is a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to improving patient outcomes and quality of life for cancer patients through standard-setting, prevention, research, education and the monitoring of comprehensive quality care. The CoC provides the public with information on the resources, services and cancer treatment experience for each CoC-accredited cancer program. The CoC’s accreditation program encourages hospitals, treatment centers, and other facilities to improve their quality of patient care through various cancer-related programs.

A peek inside the SIH Cancer Institute


A Room With a View

Using nature’s elements to inspire healing is most recognized in the 4,050 square feet of the new Infusion Therapy Services. The area is surrounded by a large expanse of floor to ceiling windows overlooking the beautiful natural landscape of the Crab Orchard Wildlife Preserve. A man-made pond and walking paths are also in view.

The natural light filters into the space while patients receive their intravenous treatments. The amenities of Infusion Therapy Services are intended to provide a warm, welcoming, comfortable and healing environment for patients, their loved ones, as well as staff.

Patients have opportunities to receive treatment in private setting, or in open “pods” that allows for interaction with other patients. Each infusion station includes a comfortable recliner, access to wi-fi, and individual TVs. Seating for family members at each patient station encourages family involvement in the patient healing process.

Staff members have access to state of the art technology and work space that will improve the level of care patients receive, while maintaining patient privacy.


New radiation technology helps doctors treat patients more accurately with fewer visits.

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) is a radiation treatment for the body that utilizes a specially designed coordinate system to find the exact location of a tumor in the body. It is extremely precise and involves the delivery of a few high dose radiation treatments, usually five or less. For patients with brain tumors, Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) will be available. SRS delivers treatment in a way similar to SBRT, but it is usually accomplished with a single treatment.

“Undergoing radiation treatment is challenging enough without considering the travel time for other appointments. This center will immediately improve that aspect,” said radiation oncologist, Michael Little. “Perhaps, even more so, it’s a message of hope for the people of southern Illinois.”

According to Lori Cohen, Radiation Oncology Manager, it saves patients from several weeks of daily visits, and by having the technology local, it saves them from going to St Louis for treatment.

The two radiation therapy machines will feature SBRT, SRS, and Rapid Arc therapies as well as the conventional therapies of IMRT and 3-D Conformal.

Radiation oncologists, Drs. George Kao and Michael Little, will both now see patients at the new SIH Cancer Institute in Carterville exclusively.

“23 years ago, one of my patients told me, “Never give up on anybody. Miracles happen every day,’ said Kao. “I’ve remembered that quote watching this dream of the cancer center become real—a place where patients are treated with respect and kindness; and while getting best cancer treatment in the area.”

You’re invited to the Grand Unveiling of the region’s own comprehensive cancer center built for the community, by the community.

Friday, February 20at 11:30am – 6:30pm
1400 Pin Oak Drive, Carterville, IL

Self-guided tours available during the open house. Ribbon cutting takes place at 12:30 pm.

View the event on Facebook

We’re Starting the Move

This November, Southern Illinois Healthcare received keys to the new cancer center structure in Carterville. Now the work begins to move the various cancer departments into the facility.

The list below represents the comprehensive components of the center. What you may not have realized is that nearly all of the departments have existed in southern Illinois for some time. The impressive list helps you see what we’ve been working all along—how all these elements, under one roof, will make it easier on patients fighting one of nature’s toughest diseases.

Radiation Therapy
Medical Oncology
Surgical & Specialty Clinic
Infusion Center
Cancer Rehabilitation
Patient Navigation
Cancer Registry
Cancer Education Resource Center
Beauty Within Boutique
Green Leaf Café
Conference/Education Classrooms
Complementary Therapy
Support Groups/Services

In the coming months the tedious work begins of bringing all these elements in the same space to function together in a seamless process. All the technological equipment will be installed: phones, computers, radiation therapy equipment, etc. Departments will move in with medical records, staff and supplies. Process flows will be fine-tuned, analyzed and reworked. The finer details of interior design will happen including the installation of the local artwork from our Inspiring Hope Through Art contest.

The many moving parts will take some time, but our goal is to open in March of 2015. Look for future announcements regarding our grand opening.

Purple =
Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month begins in November. Many people may have heard of Pancreatic Cancer but during this awareness month, Surgical Oncologist, Suven Shankar, MD, urges you to help raise awareness by educating yourself, educating others and getting involved.

What is pancreatic cancer?

  • Pancreatic cancer is the 8th most common malignancy and the fifth leading cause of adult cancer death in the US.
  • Pancreatic cancer can be divided into tumors from exocrine pancreas and endocrine pancreas.
  • The American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for pancreatic cancer in the United States are for 2014:
    • About 46,420 people (23,530 men and 22,890 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
    • About 39,590 people (20,170 men and 19,420 women) will die of pancreatic cancer
  • Rates of pancreatic cancer have been increasing slightly over the past decade or so.
  • Pancreatic cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancers in the US, and accounts for about 7% of cancer deaths.
  • The average lifetime risk of developing pancreatic cancer is about 1 in 67 (1.5%).
  • Etiology is uncertain.
  • Pancreatic cancer will surpass breast and colon cancer to become the second leading cause of cancer death around 2020.

How can we raise awareness?

Awareness can be raised by discussing about the cancer not just in November but all through the year.

Its mention in media (TV/Radio/news) is important but also getting together pancreatic cancer patients and survivors to talk about it.

Goals about raising awareness?

  • Making the public aware that all pancreatic cancers are not the same.
  • Educating the public about the types and it symptoms.
  • Understanding different treatment options.

How do we get people involved in Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month?

  • Wear purple to support it.
  • Get local organizations to arrange for pancreatic cancer talks/walks/ educational material to be given to public etc
  • Events to raise funds for pancreatic cancer research
To learn more or to make an appointment with Dr. Shankar, please call 618.457.0006.

2014 Cancer Star Survivor Nominations

Have you been inspired by someone who has been diagnosed with cancer? We want to hear about them!

In 300 words or less, tell us how a family member, friend, neighbor or co-worker has amazed you by their journey or inspired you by making a difference to others.

Click here to submit your nominations by September 18, 2014.

Last year’s winner was Chuck Wright, of Valier

Wright was diagnosed with a deadly testicular cancer in November 1981, when his physician told him to go home and enjoy his last Christmas with his family. That didn’t happen.
Chuck was nominated as a star survivor by his wife, Jeanne who was inspired by his will to keep fighting and keep positive. He overcame this cancer and lived the next 31 years of his life.
Back then, his then 4-year-old son offered the source of his inspiration. “I wanted to watch him grow up,” said Wright.

Upon accepting his award, Wright said that he praises God every day. And when he recollected Christmas 1981, he said, “The hardest thing was when my 4-year-old son opened the last Christmas present. It was pretty tough.”

Wright has had his struggles along the way, also surviving two strokes. “Never give up,” said Wright.
Wright worked as a custodian for the Sesser-Valier school district for 27 years before retiring in 2011.

Click here to submit your nominations by September 18, 2014.
Call 618.457.5200 ext 67128 for more information.