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Steve Elkins: Ringing the Bell

In October 2015, Steve Elkins was shocked to learn that he had cancer. Steve had gone to Beebe Healthcare’s emergency department for what he thought was a hernia. While a CT scan ruled out a hernia, it did show a suspected cancer in his chest and abdomen. Steve was referred to Beebe surgical oncologist Dr. Chia-Chi Wang, who ordered a biopsy to be performed by a board certified radiologist.

Steve asked if his friend and Beebe radiologist Dr. Jeff Rose could perform his biopsy. Dr. Rose performed the procedure and confirmed a diagnosis of stage two lymphoma. Steve’s next step was to meet with Dr. Nataliya Melnyk, a medical oncologist/hematologist at Beebe’s Tunnell Cancer Center, to begin a cancer treatment regimen. Under Dr. Melnyk’s care, Steve began chemotherapy on December 1, and for the next five months his treatments continued at Tunnell, approximately one treatment every three weeks, through May 1, 2016.

“From the moment it was suspected that I had lymphoma, until the day I rang the bell at the end of chemotherapy, everyone at Beebe Healthcare, and more specifically the Tunnell Cancer Center, felt like old friends,” Steve said. “I never walked in the door without being greeted by a comforting staff member or volunteer, and the good experience continued throughout my treatment. The caring nature of all the staff, especially the infusion nurses, made my treatment go smoothly.”

The ringing of the bell at the Tunnell Cancer Center is a tradition that each patient celebrates the day of their last treatment.

A cancer diagnosis is difficult not only for the patient, but also for their spouse and family members. In many cases loved ones can feel helpless, as if they are on the outside looking in, without clear answers. Steve was pleased to see how Beebe Healthcare’s team made his family and friends feel involved in his care.

“My husband, Murray, was welcomed by the staff and volunteers, and, more importantly, included in my consultations with the doctors and with my treatment procedures,” Steve said. “Everyone kept him up to speed every step of the way. As Executive Director of Camp Rehoboth, I have found that Beebe is a great partner with the LGBT community and strongly supports our initiatives and events.”

Beebe Healthcare’s Tunnell Cancer Center’s mission is to provide both hope and cure. From diagnosis through treatment and beyond, the patients at the Tunnell Cancer Center are never alone. Patients, nurses, and staff are there to listen, support, and encourage. Steve added, “I may be the only patient to do so, but I actually told family and friends that I was fine not having anyone sit with me during my infusions. I enjoyed the interaction with the nurses, volunteers, and other patients. Plus, it gave me time to relax for a few hours each visit. With my job, it was sometimes the only time I had by myself! ”

Beebe Healthcare’s Tunnell Cancer Center is a CoC-accredited cancer center. The staff takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating cancer as a complex group of diseases that requires consultation among surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists, and other cancer specialists. This multidisciplinary partnership results in improved patient care.

Beebe Healthcare’s Tunnell Cancer Center has received reaccreditation by the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI®) Certification Program, an affiliate of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The QOPI® Certification Program (QCP™) provides a three-year certification for outpatient hematology-oncology practices that meet nationally recognized standards for quality cancer care.

Steve added, “As a local community, we are truly blessed to have an award-winning cancer center in Rehoboth that not only provides excellent clinical care, but true love, inclusion and compassion. I am very happy to donate to the Beebe Medical Foundation in honor of my care knowing well that Beebe needs the strong support of our community so Beebe can continue to meet the community’s growing needs.”

As a community-owned, not-for-profit healthcare system, Beebe continues to depend on the generous support of individuals, corporations, businesses, and private foundations. All gifts, large or small, to Beebe Healthcare, are tax deductible and are channeled through Beebe Medical Foundation. Please consider making a gift today and share your amazing stories with our community.
To learn more about how you can Celebrate Excellent Care, contact the Beebe Medical Foundation at (302) 644-2900 or write to [email protected].

Shown are Steve Elkins and Tunnell Cancer Center team member Robyn Spendley.