• Putting you at the center of all we do

    A cancer diagnosis comes with a range of emotions… feeling uncertain, frightened, and overwhelmed. Our collaborative approach ensures you’ll have access to a wide range of specialists, treatments, and resources, for a peace of mind that’s the best kind of medicine.

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  • Patient Stories

    Patient stories

    Our patients are at the center of all we do.  Read inspiring stories of strength, perseverance, and hope, from those who have we’ve had the privilege of caring for at the Helen G. Nassif Community Cancer Center.

    • Ask the Expert – What is the role of the medical dosimetrist in radiation treatment? What is a medical dosimetrist? A medical dosimetrist is a critical member of the radiation oncology team. The dosimetrist’s role is to create a custom treatment plan for each patient to ensure the correct dosage of radiation reaches the tumor while protecting healthy tissue. Patients don’t see us on a daily basis but we are involved ...
    • Quality Report: Thyroid Cancer The incidence of thyroid cancer in the U.S. has been increasing at a rate of five percent per year, making it the nation’s fastest-growing cancer. Ryan Dempewolf,  MD, of Physician’s Clinic of Iowa Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) says this increase is largely due to more sensitive imaging techniques. “Scans being done for other reasons, such ...
    • In Good Hands – Team approach helps “non-stop runner” slow down to battle thyroid cancer Regina Buhs began her cancer journey with a visit to her endocrinologist, Dr. Prasuna Rao (Madhavaram) with UnityPoint Clinic Diabetes & Kidney Center. “I went in for a diabetic check-up and Dr. Rao noticed my thyroid was enlarged,” recalls Buhs. Dr. Rao ordered a follow-up exam, then an ultrasound, which detected a thyroid nodule. In March ...
    • Partners in the Fight Against Cancer – Collaboration with Mayo Clinic is a seamless process for Cedar Rapids man Bryan Gates doesn’t sound like a guy with cancer. This self-described “Bryan with a Y” is easy-going and quick with a joke even when talking about the challenges he’s facing. Gates, 61, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in January 2017. This cancer begins in the cells that line the esophagus (the tube that runs from your ...
    • Part of Her Family – Cook Cancer Wellness Program “serves up” compassionate help Nassif Community Cancer Center was in its infancy when Pam Towe was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2009. “The wellness program was getting started at just the right time for me,” Towe recalls. That summer, she was asked to take part in a new offering—working out at the cancer center with a personal trainer. An ...
    • A Gift of Thanks – Grateful Patient donors use the power of “Thank You” to save lives Fighting cancer isn’t easy. But it helps when you have someone to make your journey easier. Lisa Parsons of Cedar Rapids, who’s battling lung cancer, found a whole team at Nassif Radiation Center. Now she’s giving back in their name. “I went for treatment every day for 30 days, so I got to know everyone,” Parsons ...
    • Support When You Need It – Nassif Community Cancer Center helps patient who helps others in return Christina Ross remembers the day her life changed forever. She was getting ready for major back surgery—a frightening prospect for the 42-year-old single mom of a young son. Then she noticed a lump in one breast. A visit to her doctor revealed a second lump. Ross had back surgery, followed by a mammogram and a ...
    • Helping You Look Like You – Women fighting cancer get “back to normal” with help from Strands of Strength A cancer diagnosis changes everything. Even everyday activities like going to work can feel strange. That’s especially true for women who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment. “I’m a substitute teacher,” says Jody Sloan, 47, who is fighting a recurrence of breast cancer. “I don’t want to explain to kids why I don’t have ...
    • More Than She Expected – Care coordination helps pregnant woman battle breast cancer Pregnancy is a hectic time, especially for a 39-year-old working mom who already has three kids she’s shuttling to school and sports. For Sonya Moses, the one thing she didn’t plan on was being diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time. “I was 20 weeks pregnant when I learned I had cancer,” recalls Moses. “It ...
    • We’re on Facebook Now! Please like the Helen G. Nassif Community Cancer Center’s Facebook page!
    • Take me out to the ball game – for families facing cancer Here are some photos! Thank you Aiming for a Cure Foundation for all of your support for our patients and their families.            
    • Survivor’s Day – A Celebration of Life It was a great survivor’s day! Here are a few photos from our day at the park! We had fun celebrating YOU!
    • Individual creative art session enhances quality of life for cancer patient I had SO much fun yesterday!!! It was wonderful to just sit and let the creative part of my brain take over for awhile! And Deb and Cindy were absolutely delightful. I’m not a particularly good visual artist, but I had a great time and it was very relaxing. Definitely good for my mental ...
    • “Colon cancer is so preventable.” Cancer specialist says early detection can save lives Dr. William Fusselman is an expert at treating colon cancer. But he’d rather patients didn’t need his services at all. “Colon cancer is so preventable and treatable,” emphasizes Dr. Fusselman, of Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa Hematology & Oncology. “In many cases it’s avoidable by making lifestyle changes like exercise and ...
    • Moving lung cancer care in the right direction Lung Cancer Clinic takes a team approach to detection and treatment “Early detection and advances in how we treat lung cancer are moving us in the right direction,” says pulmonologist Muhammad Anwer, MD. Dr. Anwer of UnityPoint Clinic® Multi-Specialty – Cedar Rapids is part of the Nassif Community Cancer Center Lung Cancer Clinic—a team approach to detecting, ...
    • Wellness is powerful medicine Nassif Community Cancer Center takes a mind-body-spirit approach to wellness that focuses on the whole person, not just on treating the disease. Through generous support from the family of Jane Borg Cook and other donors, most services are free for cancer patients and their loved ones. Programs designed to promote lifelong well-being include: • Fitness center/ open ...
    • Discover Barre Above™ New ballet-inspired fitness class improves strength and balance Lois Pienkos calls breast cancer “just a bump in the road in my life.” Of course it wasn’t always that way. When Pienkos was diagnosed in January 2009, it was a scary time. But she adds, “Once you get past the fear, you do what you have to ...
    • You can be the difference Your gift provides help, healing and hope Because of the Nassif Community Cancer Center, a newly diagnosed patient has someone to turn to for answers, reassurance and support. A cancer survivor finds renewed strength and peace of mind through wellness classes. A family gets the help they need to care for a loved one battling cancer. ...
    • Connecting you with the care you need A woman’s breast cancer journey often starts with her primary care provider For many women, a breast cancer diagnosis often begins with a visit to her family doctor. “A baseline mammogram and a clinical breast exam are part of the annual well-woman visit, usually beginning at age 40,” explains Ann Metzger, MD, a physician with UnityPoint Clinic® ...
    • Caring comes full circle Two families connected by cancer and kindness Jack Hoeger was just five years old when he was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer in 2005. Cedar Rapids software technician Julie Kuehnle was 61 when she discovered a lump in her breast in 2016. Yet Hoeger and Kuehnle are connected in more ways than they could have ...
    • Helping patients today and tomorrow Clinical trials at Nassif Community Cancer Center help pave the way for the future Clinical trials play an important role in the fight against cancer. They can lead to new ways to prevent disease, detect cancer sooner, reduce side effects for better quality of life and improve outcomes. “That’s how we advance,” says Kristin Sperfslage, regulatory and ...
    • Radiation therapy with a personal touch St. Luke’s Nassif Radiation Center makes life easier for cancer patients The first day of radiation therapy can be intimidating—even frightening—for patients. So Mallory Delagardelle, radiation therapist at the Albert G. & Helen Radiation Center, says her first priority is to reassure them. “A lot of patients are nervous because they don’t know what to expect. So ...
    • Creative approach to healing Art sessions offer an alternative to traditional support groups Sylvia Anspach has been helping cancer patients for 30 years. During that time, Anspach, a nurse practitioner with Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa Hematology & Oncology, has seen changes in how we treat cancer—and in the resources that help patients navigate their cancer journey. Take support groups. Anspach says, ...
    • Spirit Fund receives donation from hockey game! Thanks to everyone who attended Pink the Rink to promote breast cancer awareness! More than $1500 was donated to the Community Cancer Center Spirit Fund. Dr. Kerri Nowell dropped the puck and breast cancer survivor Maria Parbs shared her story.
    • Partners in Jack’s care Hoeger family benefits from collaboration between the Community Cancer Center, UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids and Mayo Clinic Care Network For six months, Jen and Marty Hoeger watched their five-year-old son Jack get sicker and sicker, but no one could tell them what was wrong. A trip to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, in 2005 gave ...
    • Taking her under their wings Team surrounds patients with compassion and kindness Janice Davidson was sitting in the break room at work in early March 2016 when she felt a lump on her neck. Unsure what it was, Davidson decided not to take any chances. She scheduled an appointment with Brian Ray, MD, her UnityPoint Clinic family physician. “He said he was ...
    • The way cancer treatment should be Former TV anchor experiences exceptional care at the Community Cancer Center “I thought I was living a life that would prevent health problems,” recalls Carolyn Wettstone. Then in October 2015, the former Quad Cities TV news anchor was diagnosed with breast cancer. “It was completely unexpected,” she says. “I was a runner, a healthy eater and a ...
    • Game-changing therapy Acupuncture helps improve quality of life for cancer patients   Peggy Dudley’s first bout with breast cancer did not require chemotherapy. But when she was diagnosed again in October 2014, her doctors took a more aggressive approach. Dudley says they got the cancer, but treatment left her with a problem: peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy typically involves pain, burning ...
    • Support groups that move   Exercise and camaraderie go hand in hand in Exercise and camaraderie go hand in hand in the Cook Cancer Wellness Program “I’m not a gym person,” admits Judy Miller. But working out at the Community Cancer Center gym has helped Miller grow stronger in body, mind and spirit. “Exercise empowers cancer patients,” explains Cancer Exercise Specialist Matt ...
    • When cancer hits home Oncology nurses diagnosed with cancer share bond with their patients – Cancer knows no barriers. It can strike male and female, young and old, all races and occupations. That point was driven home for the Community Cancer Center family in 2015 when three oncology nurses affiliated with the center were diagnosed with cancer.
    • Lenchen Raeside, Breast Cancer Survivor The POWER to decide Cancer Risk Assessment provides education, genetic testing and support After watching her mother battle breast cancer, Lenchen Raeside knew her family history put her at an increased risk, so she was vigilant about mammograms. That vigilance paid off when Raeside, 55, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and learned the tumor had ...
    • Pamela Hoffman, Lung Cancer Survivor Lung Check can be a lifesaver Quick, painless scan identifies cancer at its earliest stage Pamela Hoffman of Marion started smoking when she was a teenager and continued to smoke for almost 30 years. Then at the age of 43, she kicked the habit for good. But Hoffman knew better than most all those years of smoking ...
    • Lois Penkos, Breast Cancer Survivor Bringing body, mind & spirit together Yoga benefits patients from diagnosis through survivorship Practitioners of the ancient Indian discipline of yoga have long touted its many benefits, including increased flexibility, improved muscle strength and better balance and posture. But increasingly, research is confirming yoga can do much more for an individual’s body, mind and spirit. Lois Penkos knows ...
    • Jo Moore, Colon Cancer Survivor Like many of us, Jo Moore of Marion, Iowa, has struggled with weight control over the years. While not a big eater, Moore observed “the weight just likes me” and she couldn’t seem to shed those pesky excess pounds. Then came her 2012 diagnosis of stage 1 colon cancer. Fortunately, her cancer was discovered early. After ...
    • Karley, Melanoma Survivor “It can happen to anyone” In August 2012, 16-year-old Karley Kenney of Vinton was making plans for her junior year at Vinton-Shellsburg High School. They included doing well in school, lettering in cross country and track, competing in horse shows and participating in 4-H. Fighting cancer wasn’t on the list. Then Kenney learned a mole on her back ...
    • Toni, Breast Cancer Survivor Silver linings playbook “I’m extremely lucky.” Those aren’t the words you typically expect from someone battling breast cancer. But Toni White focuses on the silver lining despite some dark days. White already had a lot on her plate in late 2013—a full-time job with Cedar Rapids schools, a full household (husband, three children and one grandchild all under ...
    • Ami, Breast & Liver Cancer Survivor Thriving after Breast and Liver Cancer Nassif Community Cancer Center breast cancer survivor Ami Ward – at 11 weeks pregnant in 2005 – discovered she had stage two ductal carcinoma, a type of breast cancer. She was 32 years old. Dr. Rasa Buntinas offered two cancer treatment choices, a mastectomy and chemotherapy in her second trimester ...
    • Rhonda, Breast Cancer Survivor Thriving after cancer Three years ago Cedar Rapids resident Rhonda Lichnerowicz endured her roughest year to date. Early in the year she lost her job after the company she worked for closed following the flood. A month later she received more devastating news. “I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Lichnerowicz. “I found a lump and tests ...
    • Pat, Lung Cancer Survivor Making the journey together It’s terrible to hear you only have two months to live. It’s even more devastating when you’re alone in a new town, with no family or friends to fall back on. But Patrick Sudduth found the support he needs in the Helen G. Nassif Community Cancer Center. Sudduth has moved around the U.S. ...





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