In January of 2020, Kankakee resident, Ben K. went to his local hospital with appendicitis. During the appendectomy, the surgeon noticed some lesions on Ben’s liver and told him he should undergo further testing. A few weeks later, Ben went to his family physician with pain in his side. The doctor ran some tests, and on March 16, 2020, Ben was diagnosed with stage IV cholangiocarcinoma, or bile duct cancer, a rare but aggressive disease. The diagnosis marked the start of his cancer journey, which eventually led him to Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), Chicago, and its alliance with Iroquois Memorial Hospital (IMH).
Ben underwent a series of scans and tests at his local hospital, where he eventually started Y90 radiation treatment. The therapy took a toll on him. “It nearly killed him,” his wife, Michelle, said. A coworker then told them about Iroquois Memorial Hospital teaming up with CTCA® Chicago. “We wanted CTCA to begin with,” Michelle says. “We called them back in March, but they were two and a half hours away, and we didn’t know how frequently we would have to go, so we knew we couldn’t do that. However, once we found out they were working with IMH, we definitely wanted to go with CTCA!” Their first appointment at IMH was on May 19. “It was really easy,” Ben says “We came in, did the paperwork, and we started treatment.” Ben undergoes treatment for two weeks, then takes a week off and says he’s feeling better since starting treatment with CTCA Chicago and IMH nearly a year ago.
In helping patients like Ben, IMH collaborates with CTCA Chicago to offer comprehensive oncology care for area residents diagnosed with any type of cancer. Patients receive coordinated care from both IMH and CTCA Chicago clinicians. Clinical telemedicine services connect patients via real-time videoconferencing to CTCA Chicago oncologists for regular visits close to home. “Ben was the first patient, so there was a learning curve, but now when we come in, everything’s set up, and boom, boom, boom, we’re good to go,” Michelle says. “They treat us like family. We’ve become friends with Kelsey, RN, who calls to check on him, and texts to see how he’s doing. The rest of his care team, Sarah, Specialty Clinic Tech, and Fina, RN are all amazing as well. Everyone we have dealt with has been just great.”
Ben and Michelle have been spreading the word about their experience with the CTCA Chicago alliance with IMH. “You’re already dealing with something that’s not pleasant. If more people knew they didn’t have to drive hours to get personalized treatment, it could really help,” says Michelle. “We feel very blessed that we came here. He’s doing good, it’s out of his lymph nodes, and we have great support here. We highly recommend it.”
Having world-class oncology care close to home means less time and money traveling, less time off work, less time in a hospital setting and waiting room, and being closer to family and local support systems. For more information on Oncology services at IMH, call 815.432.7722 or visit https://bit.ly/3u8cx7p.