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In the Spotlight  

The Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center

The Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center is an innovative four-floor, 55,000-square-foot facility providing the full range of diagnostics, treatment, care and support services for cancer patients and their families.

Our Cancer Center brings together the most advanced technology in radiation oncology along with state-of-the-art medical and surgical oncology, excellent clinical outcomes and research, and provides an amazing array of support services, resources, and complementary therapies that few cancer centers across the country offer. The first of its kind, located in the San Fernando Valley, this signature cancer center has been designed to focus on human touch and human interaction; to promote healing through nurturing spaces inside and out; and to empower patients through information and education.


In the Spotlight  

The Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center Virtual Tour

 

 

In the Spotlight  

Cancer treatment comes with many side effects—one of them is lymphedema

Lymphedema is the result of surgery and/or radiation therapy and causes severe swelling, typically in the arms, legs, or head and neck.

Luckily, lymphedema rehabilitation, which can relieve the swelling and help prevent future flare-ups, is available at Providence. The process includes manual lymphatic drainage, compression therapies, exercises and education.

The Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center provides the same services, and uses advanced technology to give therapists a more objective measurement of lymph volume. A machine called a perometer uses infrared light sensors that can measure for swelling changes as early as possible.

“We’re trying to change the model of care,” says Cheryl Pranskevich, P.T., CLT, supervisor of oncology rehab at the center. “The perometer gives us another tool to make people’s lives better.”


In the Spotlight  

You're smart about your breast health.

In addition to regular self exams, you know that your annual mammogram is the most effective way to maintain your breast health. More than 80 percent of breast cancer cases show no other signs — yet diagnosing the cancer in an early, localized state leads to a 98 percent survival rate.

Start with the most advanced screening technology available.

When you schedule your annual mammogram at the Providence Saint Joseph Breast Health Center, you can rest assured that our specialists use some of the most sophisticated radiologic and diagnostic technology to detect breast cancers as early as possible. Our all digital mammography and computer-aided detection has earned the Breast Health Center recognition as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology and recipient of the American College of Surgeons' National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC).


In the Spotlight  

You’re smart about your colon health.

You know your body, and you know to talk with your doctor when things just don’t feel right. But did you know that most colon cancers show no symptoms until the later stages? Regular colonoscopy is the best way to protect yourself from colon cancer; proper screenings alone could prevent as many as 60 percent of colon cancer deaths. That’s because screenings can catch colon cancer early, when it is most treatable, and can often prevent cancer altogether, catching dangerous polyps before they become cancerous.

Start with the most advanced screening technology available.

When you schedule your colonoscopy at the Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, you know you can rest assured knowing that our specialists use some of the most sophisticated radiologic and diagnostic technology to detect colorectal cancer and dangerous polyps as early as possible.


In the Spotlight  

You know the man in the mirror better than anyone.

But to get the full picture of your health, you need to schedule a prostate exam, which includes a simple blood test called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening. The exam can help you determine if you are at risk for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer will take the lives of 1 in 36 men, but detected early, there is a nearly 100 percent 5-year survival rate.

Start with the most advanced screening technology available.

When you schedule your prostate exam at the Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, you know you’re getting the best. Our specialists use some of the most sophisticated diagnostic technology to detect prostate cancer as early as possible.

Testimonial Video 
Disney Family Cancer
Center Virtual Tour
Testimonial Video 
Cancer Treatment
Introduction
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Cancer Treatment
Overview
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Radiation Therapy
Testimonial Video 
Dr. Schaerf on Lung
Cancer
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Dr. Deanna Attai on
Breast Cancer
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Dr. Fisher on G.I.
Cancer
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Dr. Mena, Cancer Treatment
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Anthony Johnson
Testimonial Video 
Vickee Petersen
Testimonial Video 
Marla Zack
Testimonial Video 
James Murtha
Testimonial Video 
Philip Lee Downs
Testimonial Video 
Jeannette Garcia
Testimonial Video 
Dr. Rex Hoffman on Radiation Therapy
Testimonial  

John Ashker is no stranger to dangerous situations. As a professional Hollywood Stunt man, his typical work day might include exchanging punches in a bar brawl, being hit by a charging car or escaping from a burning building.

In his spare time, he races motorcycles. So when doctors diagnosed him with the most common and aggressive type of primary brain tumor, glioblastoma (GBM), he didn’t panic.

Less than 30 percent of patients diagnosed with GBM survive more than one year. To improve John’s prognosis, specialists at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center recommended neurosurgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. According to John’s Radiation Oncologist, Rex Hoffman, MD, medical studies have demonstrated that, on average, patients with GBM have a 26 percent chance of surviving two years or more when receiving both chemotherapy and radiation therapy, compared to 10 percent with radiation therapy alone. Ashker’s surgery resulted in complete removal of the tumor, but John initially refused additional therapies after reading about the possible side effects.ashker_quote.jpg

Ashker carefully considered the advice of his physicians and agreed to be treated with recommended therapies. He also integrated complementary therapies, which he firmly believes helped fend off the cancer.

More than four years after his initial diagnosis, Ashker is cancer free and living life to the fullest.

“Everything I read said it couldn’t be cured. But, I look at every situation as though there’s something I can do to make it better.”


Testimonial  
Valerie Dean had no symptoms, no signs of cancer.

Valerie Dean had no symptoms, no signs of cancer.
"I went to my gynecologist for a routine Pap smear," says Valerie. "They found something the size of a pencil eraser and diagnosed it as stage 1B cervical cancer."

The first step in treating Valerie's cancer was a radical hysterectomy. This can be a difficult surgery, but Valerie's doctor, Gynecologic Oncologist Richard Friedman, M.D., of Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, is highly skilled at performing radical hysterectomies laparascopically.

"The real advantage is it allows a faster recovery for the patient," says Dr. Friedman, one of a handful of surgeons who perform this procedure. "It is a minimally invasive procedure and shortens the patient's hospital stay."

Valerie also received care from two renowned oncologists at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center to ensure a full recovery. Raul Mena, M.D., Medical Director of Cancer Services, supervised her care while she received weekly low-dose chemotherapy for six weeks. Radiation Oncologist Christopher Rose, M.D., provided external beam radiation therapy five days a week during the same period.

"It was one of the best experiences of my life, not only because of the way the doctors cared for me, but also because I met so many other cancer patients who were so inspirational in how they handled their cancer treatment," says Valerie.

Three years have passed since Valerie's surgery and treatment. She remains cancer free.

 

Testimonial  

In September 2006, Connie Owen of Burbank received a visit from her mother, 77-year old Phyllis Winblood. Connie anticipated spending time doing typical mother-daughter activities, such as talking, sharing lunch and shopping. Neither woman expected to find an egg-sized lump in Phyllis' breast five days before her scheduled flight home to Virginia.

“My mom is very independent. She has friends and activities that she enjoys, and she wanted to get home to them,” Connie recalls. “But we had to make sure she was okay first.”

With the assistance of the patient care navigator at the Providence Breast Health Center, doctors expedited a series of diagnostic tests - including a mammogram, breast ultrasound and biopsy. Test results indicated that Phyllis had early-stage breast cancer that had not spread to other parts of her body. Doctors also determined that because of the size and location of Phyllis' tumor, she was a candidate for breast brachytherapy, a technologically advanced radiation treatment that can be completed in four to five days, compared to six or seven weeks for traditional external beam radiation therapy.

“When women are diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, we can offer less invasive options that are as good as older, more aggressive methods of treatment, explains Deanna J. Attai, MD, FACS, a breast surgeon affiliated with Providence Regional Cancer Centers. “With less invasive treatments, women experience less scarring, less pain and faster recovery. They can get back to their lives sooner.”

With lumpectomy followed by breast brachytherapy, Dr. Attai and Phyllis' radiation oncologist, Chester Wilson, MD, medical director of radiation oncology at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, told Phyllis she could be cancer-free and ready to travel home within a couple of weeks after her surgery. Raul R. Mena, MD, medical director of Cancer Services at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, also recommended hormonal drug therapy with selective estrogen receptor modulators to decrease Phyllis' risk for cancer recurrence.

“After the doctors explained everything, my mom just changed,” Connie reflects. “She had hope. Every corner that we turned we thought something bad would happen, and it didn't. It was miraculous the way things turned out.”


Testimonial  

Valerie Dean had no symptoms, no signs of the cancer. “I went to my gynecologist for a routine Pap smear,” says Valerie. “They found something the size of a pencil eraser and diagnosed it as Stage 1B Cervical Cancer.”

The first step in treating Valerie's cancer was a radical hysterectomy. This can be a difficult surgery, but Valerie's doctor, Gynecologic Oncologist Richard Friedman, MD, of Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, is highly skilled at performing radical hysterectomies laparascopically.

“The real advantage is it allows a faster recovery for the patient,” says Friedman, one of a handful of surgeons who perform this procedure. “It is a minimally invasive procedureand shortens the patient's hospital stay.”

Valerie also received care from two renowned oncologists at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center to ensure a full recovery. Raul Mena, MD, Medical Director of Cancer Services, supervised her care while she received weekly low-dose chemotherapy for six weeks. Radiation Oncologist Christopher Rose, MD, provided external beam radiation therapy five days a week during the same period.

“It was one of the best experiences of my life, not only because of the way the doctors cared for me, but also because I met so many other cancer patients who were so inspirational in how they handled their cancer treatment,” says Valerie.

Three years have passed since Valerie's surgery and treatment. She remains cancer free.


Testimonial  

"I had chest pain. I had stomach pain. I had shortness of breath. I knew something was really wrong with me."

Still, Robin Ceppi, a busy, working mother of young children, says fear initially prevented her from seeking help. Robin had already fought and won a battle with breast cancer, but it took a serious toll on her family - husband Mike, daughter Allison and son Brian.

"I was flipped out. I knew it was bad. I even told people, 'I'm really sick.'"

The Diagnosis... Eventually, Robin shared her concerns with her primary care doctor, who immediately scheduled her for a chest X-ray. The X-ray showed a very big mass in the middle of Robin's chest. Robin remembers having a “horrible” feeling, even before she received the results. “I knew I had cancer, and I thought that was the end of my life,” Robin recalls.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, claiming the lives of more than 550,000 Americans each year.

Following the X-ray, Robin's doctor scheduled her for a computed tomography (CT) scan to determine if the cancer had spread to other areas in her body. Following the CT scan, her oncologist suspected lymphoma and referred Robin to thoracic surgeon Raymond Schaerf, MD, who asked Robin to come to his office immediately.

“From the moment that cancer is suspected, it is absolutely critical to act quickly,” emphasizes Dr. Schaerf. “The best chance for a cure is to find and surgically remove the cancer as early as possible.

In the earliest stages, the cancer is less likely to have spread.”

When a biopsy of Robin's tumor generated inconclusive results, Dr. Schaerf scheduled Robin for a thoracotomy, a procedure in which he carefully employed a minimally invasive surgical technique to view Robin's chest cavity. This enabled Dr. Schaerf to examine the size of the tumor and establish if the cancer had traveled to the lymph nodes.

The Prognosis... In a complex operation, Dr. Schaerf removed a very large tumor from Robin's mediastinum - the space between the breastbone and lungs. Fortunately, almost all of Robin's cancer was removed. Robin needed four months of chemotherapy and two weeks of radiation therapy to destroy the remaining cancer cells. Robin remembers feeling better almost immediately at the end of the therapy.

“Everything was handled expeditiously. Dr. Schaerf just exuded confidence, and that made me feel more confident,” Robin says. She's been cancer-free for nearly five years. “Robin's situation was more complicated because the cancer wasn't detected and treated in the early stages,” notes Dr. Schaerf. “However, at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, we're adept at effectively treating cancer patients in all stages of the disease. Our success rates are among the best in the United States.”

“I've never seen the care you get from all of the physicians and staff at Providence Saint Joseph, and I'm very critical,” Robin admits. “From my doctors, to the ICU nurses, to the radiologists, to the techs - they were all so terrific. I just can't say enough.”