by Joel Siebentritt, LCSW
What more needs to be said but a humble “thank you” to each of you who make our work possible. Through your generosity, the Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support stands like a beacon of light, guiding patients through the complicated maze of treatment and the cloudy days of survivorship.
Athens Regional took a risk fifteen years ago by investing in the Center and support programs that were not likely to add to the bottom line. Looking back, there is no doubt it was the right thing to do. Following the lead of a visionary director, a skilled staff and a medical community willing to support the effort, ARHS took a proactive stance to better the lives of people living with cancer in our community. The Center’s beneficial impact on the thousands of individuals who have come here has been enormous and far beyond anyone’s expectations.
There is more to be done. The field of cancer care is like a swiftly flowing river. New discoveries and rapid change are defining characteristics of our work. The next fifteen years will reveal cures to some cancers, more effective and less caustic treatments for others, and a mini-revolution in how we understand the power of the mind and body working in concert to bring healing. The Loran Smith Center will be there. Our mission may shift but it will not change. The shift will likely be in the direction of prevention and early intervention. We know too much about how to prevent many cancers through weight control, exercise and good nutrition. It is up to each of us to minimize our personal risk of cancer by actively pursuing a healthy lifestyle.
Early intervention is the next best thing. We can continue to improve long-term survival rates while taking a bite out of the cost of treatment if we make sure we get screened at reasonable intervals and catch cancer before it spreads.
When we diligently attend to the two areas mentioned above, the incidence of life-threatening cancers will begin to decline. However, cancer will not be eliminated. There will always be a tendency for human cells to mutate in ways that bring disease of various sorts. But, by improving our overall health through daily practices of exercise, good nutrition, and stress management, each of us can look forward to a higher quality of life for a much longer period of time.
The Loran Smith Center is on a firm foundation and we are well positioned to respond to the changes the field will bring. What’s more, the Center will remain on the cutting edge of cancer care, even initiating changes that will influence programs across the nation. We have always been unique when compared to other cancer support programs locally, regionally and nationally. And, opportunities have already greeted us to share our knowledge through research, develop model programs of supportive care and coordinate efforts to make sure patients and families are always the focus. Walk with us through the next fifteen years and help us continue to fulfill our mission to this wonderful and generous community.
Be Well, Joel