A cancer diagnosis is devastating, not just to the patient who receives it, but to the friends and loved ones who will support them through treatment. There are more than a million Californians alive today with a shared history of surviving cancer.1 Their survival, and the survival of the tens of thousands more who will receive a cancer diagnosis this year, is inextricably bound to their ability to access high-quality, compassionate and comprehensive care.
In a state as large as California, making that specialized care available to every patient who needs it is no small task. It requires innovative solutions, like the partnership between UC Davis and Dignity Health’s Mercy Medical Center Merced.
The Mercy UC Davis Cancer Center serves over 13,000 patients annually, providing radiation oncology and other critical specialized care that wouldn’t otherwise be available. Through the UC Davis Cancer Care Network, a collaboration of hospital-based cancer centers, patients can also get their care close to home — regardless of whether they live in a remote northern area like Redding, in Merced in the San Joaquin Valley or right in the heart of Los Angeles.
“Since 2000, this partnership has offered access to gold-standard cancer care that any community would welcome,” said Parminder Sidhu, an oncologist with Mercy Medical Center in Merced, and a UC-trained oncologist. “Today, our community knows that they can receive the best cancer care without leaving home. Any cancer patient or loved one knows how truly precious that is.”
Patient-centered programming drives improved cancer outcomes
But what exactly is the “gold standard” when it comes to cancer care? It’s high-quality, multidisciplinary, patient-centered cancer care. It’s hitting the bar that the National Cancer Institute sets for quality, but it’s also offering a full spectrum of services for patients — everything from cutting-edge clinical trials to financial counseling and interpreter services.
It’s a variety of community programs, which together compose a holistic approach to cancer treatment that goes well beyond the clinical realm. In other words, it’s treating the person, not just the cancer.
Here is a sampling of the services offered to patients at the Mercy UC Davis Cancer Center:
- Cancer support groups: These groups offer a chance to share stories, learn from others who have been through a similar journey and even make new friends. The groups are free and open to anyone who is currently fighting cancer or who has survived the disease.
- Massage therapy: Studies of massage for cancer patients suggest that massage can decrease stress, anxiety, depression, pain and fatigue. This program offers patients free 15-minute massage sessions that can often be scheduled on the same day as treatment.
- Wig bank: For women in particular, the hair loss that often comes with treatment can be confidence-shattering. This program offers on-site, free wig-fitting consultations. Volunteers from the American Cancer Society help patients find a wig that fits their lifestyle and makes them feel more like themselves, in addition to offering tips on how to style wig alternatives such as turbans and scarves.
- Smoking cessation: Although the rate of new lung cancer cases in the state is significantly lower than the national rate, lung cancer is still one of the most common cancers for adults. This free four-week program offers education and free nicotine replacement therapy (patches).
- Support for navigating care: Cancer care is complicated, so the center provides an oncology social worker who is available for consultations at no charge to all patients with cancer diagnoses.
These programs address not just the physical symptoms of cancer and cancer treatment, but also the emotional well-being of every Californian who comes through the doors of the Mercy Medical Center Merced.
Mercy UC Davis Cancer Center
At the Mercy UC Davis Cancer Center, our goal is to make your experience as easy as possible by providing comprehensive, compassionate care in one convenient setting, right next to the hospital.Learn more about Mercy UC Davis Cancer Center