Community Health Network partners with MD Anderson Cancer Center
Wanda Murphy of Fairland, 72, is a survivor of thyroid and breast cancer.
It's the more rare vulvar cancer that now is in its third recurrence that makes her treatment complicated.
"Every time I get something else, I think, 'oh, my goodness, this can't be real,'" Murphy said.
Her oncologist showed us the latest 4mm tumor.
"I think your body holds cancer cells but they are sometimes never activated and for some reason, something is activating my cancer cells," said Murphy.
It's an area that had already been treated with radiation.
"She had a pattern of recurrence which made it difficult to decide which would be the best therapy for her," said Dr. Summet Bhatia, Murphy's Oncologist at Community Health Network.
But because Community Health Network is now one of nine hospital systems affiliated with MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, Bhatia can make sure the best in the nation have collaborated on Murphy's treatment.
"The biggest thing this partnership has allowed us to do is when patients have rare diseases or patterns of recurrence are such that there is fair amount of controversy in what standard care should be, it allows you to reach to experts in Houston who by volume see far more patients than any one of us does, so we are able to tap into that experience," Bhatia said.
Bhatia says that expertise can be shared in a phone call, during a video conference case review or even by fast tracking patients and sending them to Houston. Bhatia oversaw all three for Murphy and now at Community North is administering the chemotherapy guidelines established in Texas.
Murphy is now on the ninth of twelve recommended chemotherapy doses. When that last is complete, Bhatia plans to confer with MD Anderson about what to do next. Wanda is also spending time in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber at Community East to boost her wound healing.
It's coordinated care, close to home, and where Murphy is near what matters most.
"I think you can't give up. You just have to keep going," Murphy said.
She is now one of 40 central Indiana patients who are formally enrolled in the MD Anderson and Community affiliation. Myra Fauts who is the Vice President for Community Oncology Services says that right now Community North and East Cancer care have been certifed by MD Anderson. The two facilities treated five thousand cancer patients over the last four years. Fauts says work is underway to get the Community South and locations in Kokomo and Anderson certified too.