Nov 23, 2016 1:00 AM

Author: Sue Childress, RN, MN, OCN

As milestones go, five years isn’t much in the “big picture” of a cancer center. At Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), physicians, nurses, researchers, and other staff are a busy group of people with a mission to understand cancer, improve patient care, and provide education to the community about cancer risk and prevention. Taking time to celebrate isn’t what we do. But I feel the need to hit the pause button and reflect. Stopping to recognize the progress we’ve made, and the challenges we continue to face, can be inspiring and motivating to those of us on the front lines.

HCI is young compared to most of the major cancer centers in the United States. Conceived in the 1990s by a benefactor whose personal cancer experience inspired a vision to dream big, the first building opened in 1999 with research labs and outpatient clinical care. For the first time in Utah, clinical care for cancer patients was united with cancer research in one building.

The milestone I want to recognize this month is the opening of our third expansion, which we dedicated in November 2011 here on the campus of HCI. While the first two phases brought researchers and clinicians from across the medical center campus together under one roof, the third expansion was a game changer. New clinical services were offered and technologies enhanced. An oncology intensive care unit, a woman’s breast center, 50 new inpatient rooms, and an intraoperative MRI were added, to name a few.

Looking to the next five years, I expect to see advances in cancer we can’t even imagine right now. Just this past year, HCI was called on to help with Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative, which has brought renewed focus to cancer and is inspiring us to come together to make a difference. A major expansion of HCI’s research building is poised to open in 2017 and will double research capacity to advance the study of pediatric cancers and cancers that run in families. This new space will accelerate discoveries of new drugs and advance research to improve quality of life for all people impacted by cancer.

As milestones go, five years can be significant. Five years for a cancer patient can mean attending a wedding, holding a grandchild, and simply living—a lot, come to think of it, in the “big picture” of a human life.

Sue Childress, RN, MN, OCN

Huntsman Cancer Institute Nursing

cancer care

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