Chattanooga resident Jason Green has already benefited from the changes that are making UAB’s Comprehensive Cancer Center more inviting and accessible to every patient. The story of his first day in the Multidisciplinary Gastrointestinal Cancer Clinic offers a preview of the IMCCP approach to care.
Mr. Green was diagnosed with stage IV rectal cancer just days before his 34th birthday in December 2006. “I remember the day to a T,” he recalls. “I had never been in the hospital or even had surgery before. I had no family history of the disease. Cancer was an unfamiliar word to me.”
Mr. Green was referred to the UAB Cancer Center by friends of his parents, who live in Birmingham. He contacted the Multidisciplinary Gastrointestinal Oncology Clinic, led by Martin Heslin, M.D. Within five days, Mr. Green had spoken with nurse coordinator Suzanne McNeil, R.N., and had an appointment scheduled at The Kirklin Clinic®.
On that first day, Mr. Green met with Dr. Heslin and his entire cancer care team, who detailed what to expect during treatment. “I immediately felt able to relax,” Mr. Green says. “Dr. Heslin laid everything out in a logical fashion, which took a huge weight off my shoulders. He told me his plan was for me to be cancer-free. I knew I was in good hands.”
Mr. Green began chemotherapy the Wednesday before Christmas and continued through the first of January. He then completed 28 cycles of radiation therapy and had surgery in April 2007. Because UAB specialists knew that Mr. Green’s cancer had already metastasized to his liver prior to his initial chemotherapy, he began another round of chemotherapy in the summer, followed by a second surgery to remove two thirds of his liver. He then continued chemotherapy, which he finished in January 2008. Scans in February showed that his cancer was gone.
“It’s amazing what I went through to be here today,” Mr. Green says. “I couldn’t have asked for better care.”
Since completing his treatment, life has returned to normal for Mr. Green, and he credits his faith as well as Dr. Heslin and the Cancer Center’s multidisciplinary care approach for that. “It allowed me to relax and feel a little more at ease about the situation,” he says. “To be honest, I didn’t know how long I’d have to live, but that was just me being ignorant about cancer. There are so many people who beat it, and now I’m one of them.”