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Cancer survivors mark anniversary of cancer center

Partnership with University of Chicago opened last June

NEW LENOX, Ill. — On June 23, patients, family members and caregivers came together at Silver Cross Field for a special Cancer Survivor’s Celebration to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the opening of the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross.

Just one year ago, 70 percent of Will County residents fighting cancer were leaving the area to seek top-notch care at academic medical centers.  Today, patients and families only need to travel to I-355 and U.S 6 in nearby New Lenox to see cancer specialists from the renowned University of Chicago Medicine (UCM) — one of only two National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer programs in Illinois.

Tom English of Tinley Park chose the University of Chicago Medicine Com-prehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross when he was diagnosed with vocal cord cancer on Jan. 23, 2013.

“I could have gone anywhere — out of state or downtown Chicago, but I decided that Silver Cross was the best option so I could have the support of my family close by,” English said.

“The Cancer Center was just 20 minutes from my home, which was great since I had to go every day for a total of 35 radiation treatments and five weeks of chemotherapy.

“I just had a biopsy last week that showed I am now cancer-free after just 6 months. The tumor is gone thanks to Drs. Narula and McCall and the entire team at the Cancer Center.  When I first walked in, I was scared, but they made me feel like family.”

The state-of-the-art Cancer Center — a partnership between the University of Chicago Medicine and Silver Cross Hospital — opened in June 2012 and is located in the two-story Carolyn J. Czerkies Pavilion on the new Silver Cross campus.

The Czerkies family do- nated $1.5 million to help fund the construction of the Cancer Center in memory of Carolyn, who passed away in 2000 from  multiple myeloma — cancer of the bone marrow.

The Czerkies family traveled around the country in search for the best possible care. Their generous donation ensures that other families will have access to leading academic oncologic care close to home.

Access to Expertise & New Cancer Therapies

In the Czerkies Pavilion, adults and children alike can see full-time medical and radiation oncologists from the University of Chicago Medicine, receive state-of-the-art chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and take part in clinical trials.

In fact, the University of Chicago Medicine Com-prehensive Cancer Center maintains more active clinical trials for the treatment of cancer than any other program in Illinois.

“Individuals with a cancer diagnosis no longer have to leave the community for an expert second opinion or comprehensive treatment that can only be found in an academic medical center setting,” said Dr. Lawrence Schilder, Medical Director of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross.

“Our Cancer Center is an extension of the University of Chicago’s program offering everything a patient needs all under one roof right here at Silver Cross.”

In addition to clinical trials and chemotherapies not typically found in a community hospital setting, patients also benefit from state-of-the-art radiation therapy techniques under the direction of UCMC radiation oncologist Dr. Anne McCall.

More than 300 patients received image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) at the Cancer Center in the past year. IGRT, delivered via the TrueBeam new-generation linear accelerator system, precisely targets the tumor from nearly any direction to provide the best results.

Dr. McCall and her team offer several unique therapies at the Cancer Center, including an innovative clinical trial to treat breast cancer with three weeks of IGRT instead of the standard six weeks.

“We are also the only cancer center in the region offering prone breast radiation treatment,” says Dr. McCall.  “Prone therapy is especially beneficial for women with larger breasts and a tumor on the left side that hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes,” says Dr. McCall.

Radiation is administered on a specially-designed table. The patient lies comfortably in the prone position (on her stomach) with the breast hanging down from the body. This makes it easier to precisely target the tumor while minimizing the radiation exposure and protecting the surrounding tissues and organs, including the heart.

“At the University of Chicago Medicine Compre-hensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross, we understand that total cancer care goes well beyond radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and even surgery,” adds Dr. Schilder. “We also offer hormonal therapy, infusion services, preventative screenings, and rehabilitation.

“And, we just formed a partnership with the Cancer Support Center in Mokena to offer other supportive services on site such as counseling and wellness classes.”
Expansion on the Horizon

Unfortunately, the incidence of cancer in Will County has not slowed down with the opening of the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross.

“Since we opened our new Hospital last year, we have seen record-breaking patient volumes across every area—inpatient, outpatient and emergency care,” said Paul Pawlak, president and CEO of Silver Cross Hospital. “However our partnership with University of Chicago has been one of the most successful programs on the new campus.”

To handle the increased demand, the University of Chicago Medicine Com-prehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross is bringing on a fourth medical oncologist — Dr. Grace Suh, and a second radiation oncologist, Dr. Daniel Golden, in the next few months. Both of these highly skilled cancer specialists will be caring for patients full-time in the Cancer Center.

“Our dream for Will County residents to be able to get the very best cancer care close to home has come true,” says Pawlak.”

To schedule an appointment, call 1-855-UCM-1400. For more information about the new University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital, visit
Silver Cross is a not-for-profit health care provider serving Will County and southwest suburban communities since 1895.

Silver Cross has been recognized as a Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals National Award winner for seven consecutive years and as a Hospital of Choice by the American Alliance of Healthcare Providers. With over 3,000 employees, physicians and volunteers, Silver Cross operates a 289-bed acute care hospital and 9 satellite facilities providing outpatient services and physician offices.

Silver Cross opened a state-of-the-art replacement hospital on February 26, 2012, at I-355 and U.S. 6 in New Lenox. To learn more about Silver Cross Hospital or a referral to a physician on staff, visit or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).

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