Health Blog

Cancer Care at Community Care

Our team of oncology experts at Community Care work together to provide comprehensive, diligent, personal cancer care – from screening, diagnosis, to treatment and follow-up, after treatment care. Together, as one care team, we are here to help you live better.

Cancer Care at Community Care

Our team of oncology experts at Community Care work together to provide comprehensive, diligent, personal cancer care – from screening, diagnosis, to treatment and follow-up, after treatment care. Together, as one care team, we are here to help you live better.

Community Oncology at Community Care delivers the most advanced treatment options, diagnostic testing, medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgical specialties, and supportive well care programs in a comfortable, private outpatient setting. Whether you are interested in a routine wellness screening, an experienced physician for cancer treatment, or a second opinion, Community Care's expert team of providers, nurse administrators, and support staff are here for you and your family. You can rest assured, knowing you have a team of caring experts behind you for your medical care.

We care for the following:
• Breast Cancer
• Prostate Cancer
• Brain Tumors
• Colorectal Cancer
• Gynecological Cancer
• Head and Neck Cancer
• Hodgkins Lymphoma
• Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
• Lung Cancer
• Skin Cancer

Meet Our Patient Melanie & Learn About Her Journey Fighting Cancer

Breast cancer awareness always sweeps the nation, and for a good reason – an estimated one in eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer in our country. It is one of the most common diseases among women in New York State. Unfortunately, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't know someone else touched by breast cancer. We'd like to introduce you to Melanie – a grandmother who loves to laugh, is an avid traveler, is very active, thinks the Rolling Stones is "the best rock and roll band in the world," and is a breast cancer survivor.

Melanie wasn't new to the world of cancer. She lost a sister to cancer at 50. At age 9, Melanie's father passed away from cancer. And Melanie's daughter was born with a brain tumor that was removed when she was 18 months old. She had neurofibromatosis, or Von Recklinghausen's Disease, which causes benign tumors all over the body, and learning disabilities. Her daughter's medical care was coordinated by a team of doctors in Boston, MA. It was hard, but Melanie was determined to treat her daughter like any other child. Melanie taught her daughter about science and nature by camping, and about history by traveling to Washington. Her daughter's knowledge flourished; she learned something new with each adventure they experienced together. Sadly, Melanie's daughter passed away at the age of 19. But, what a 19-years they were, filled with adventures and love. After her daughter passed away, Melanie didn't stop her experiences. After retiring from the Tax Department in 2004, she and her husband, Bruce, sold everything in their 4,000 square foot house and hit the road. They traveled all over the United States together. They made two round trips out to California, taking different routes each time (after all, what's an adventure if it's not new!). They went to the Rose Parade; the Indie 500; Kentucky Derby; Mardi Gras. "The national parks were the gems. The friendliest state was Texas. My favorite city was Memphis," Melanie said. "Traveling had a certain appeal – you don't like your neighbors? You can just hook up the truck, and you're gone." They traveled together for over six years, only bringing their touring adventure to a close when they learned they were going to embark on a different adventure – they were going to become Grandparents. So, they returned home to Scotia.

Diagnosis and Care Plan at CCP

In early 2019, Melanie had a routine screening mammogram at ImageCare Medical Imaging Balltown. She later got a call back from the team at ImageCare for further evaluation. Melanie didn't think the request was unusual. This time she visited the Breast Center at ImageCare, specializing in screening studies for asymptomatic women and diagnostic studies for problem-solving. Dr. Rupal Patel, breast radiologist and Medical Director of The Breast Center, saw Melanie for a targeted mammogram and ultrasound. During this diagnostic visit, Dr. Patel reviewed the images with Melanie and made a treatment plan to have a breast biopsy next. After the biopsy, Melanie was called to come in and review the biopsy results, and this is when "the bells went off" for her. In The Breast Center, Dr. Patel discussed with Melanie that, unfortunately, the biopsy did show breast cancer, but the Community Care treatment team would take good care of her. Dr. Patel referred Melanie to Dr. Youngelman, a breast surgeon at Community Care General Surgery, for the next phase of her journey. Melanie wanted to be sure she was receiving the best care, so she decided to get a second opinion in Boston, where her daughter was treated. After her visit, both she and the Boston physicians knew she was in good hands with CCP.

Melanie met with Dr. Youngelman in February 2019 for her Stage 1 breast carcinoma. "The minute I met Dr. Youngelman, I was in; I was in all the way. Because she was just phenomenal," Melanie said. Dr. Youngelman performed a lumpectomy and tested lymph nodes, which came back clean. Melanie's care plan included radiation therapy with Dr. Arun Puranik at IGRT and then hormone therapy with Upstate Hematology Oncology's Dr. Rana Jacob. After meeting Dr. Youngelman, Melanie never lost a minute's sleep over her diagnosis. Her biggest concern was completing her treatment in time to go to the next Rolling Stones concert! She was able to remain positive because Dr. Youngelman is "old school, one of a kind, and really cares about her patients," said Melanie. Melanie was just as confident in the care she received from Dr. Puranik and the team at IGRT, where she received her radiation therapy. "I had more fun coming to radiation! It was almost ridiculous!" From nearly falling off the treatment table to pasting a photo of Sandra Bullock over her profile picture at check-in, Melanie had a special relationship with the team at IGRT. "The girls at IGRT and Bob [Desjardins] are fantastic," Melanie said. While she loved her physicians, Melanie was also impressed with the oncology coordination at CCP, something she said she hadn't seen since her daughter was treated in Boston.

Nurse Navigation and Care Coordination at CCP

When Melanie's biopsy came back positive for cancer, she was referred to Karen Houston, CCP's Oncology Nurse Navigator, "and then I just constantly nagged her," joked Melanie. Life experiences familiarized Melanie with radiation, chemotherapy, and other cancer terms, but when it came to her personal care, Melanie faced a new terrain. It's one thing to navigate a cross country adventure, but how do you navigate a care plan for cancer treatment? Melanie had to schedule many doctors' appointments, which often depended on when test results came back; communication needed to be clear and quick. Karen helped Melanie keep everything in order and helped explain a lot along the way. "What kind of doctor is Dr. Puranik, and what kind is Dr. Jacob? I couldn't get it straight in my head. Not only what they were, but where they were," said Melanie. So, she relied on Karen to assist. Karen recalls her first conversation with Melanie. "When I first called her, Melanie said, 'I'm just going to tell you right now, we're going to become best phone friends. I'm going to put you in my speed dial!'" Nurse navigators like Karen can help a patient make sense of it all. They follow the lead of the patient's physician. As a nurse, Karen helps put each piece of a cancer diagnosis and care plan together, and she is just a phone call away. While each patient's needs vary, Melanie needed Karen for more than just the sharing of clinical information. She needed moral support and friendship. They built a deeper personal connection and shared wedding pictures, discussed anniversaries, bonded over their love of the Stones, and concerts at the Dome. That connection is something that Karen says makes the job of the nurse navigator so rewarding. Karen said, "I tell patients, I'm their one-stop-shop so to speak, and if I can't help them, I have a direct connection, so they don't have to wait on the phone and leave a message…" Melanie believes this kind of service is rare, and the nurse navigator role is "the best idea ever," she said.

Melanie was certain to stay active throughout her treatment. She went to the gym the same week she had her lumpectomy and every day after radiation therapy. Mentally, this helped her a lot. But even more so was knowing she had the support of Karen and the team at CCP. Her experience with the doctors, nurses, and receptionists were so positive that Karen also helped Melanie find a primary care provider in CCP. "It really was a great experience for what it was," Melanie said. Melanie was diagnosed with breast cancer around the same time Mick Jagger was diagnosed with a heart valve issue; they recovered together – seems fitting due to her love of the band. Today, Melanie has successfully completed radiation therapy. She will continue to see Dr. Jacob for the next five years for hormone therapy, but she is cancer-free, and that is something for which everyone on Melanie's care team and at CCP is thankful.

Comprehensive Breast Cancer Services at CCP

We're lucky that patients like Melanie can receive all of their breast care at CCP. We can easily and compassionately navigate them through our offices for screening, diagnosis, and treatment. CCP has the most advanced diagnostic testing and treatment options in a comfortable, private outpatient setting. Whether patients need a routine wellness screening, an experienced physician for cancer treatment or a second opinion, Community Care's expert team of providers, nurses, administrators, and support staff are here.

When seeking healthcare in the area, patients are not alone. We are pleased to have Karen Houston, our Nurse Navigator, as part of our Cancer Care Program at CCP to help patients and families through the complex world of cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment, and follow up care to make their experience as seamless as possible. Karen is a resource for all questions relating to a patient’s care. For more information or to ask a question about our cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment services, please call Nurse Navigator Karen at (518) 213-0308. We can help you determine which type of doctor or services you need (both internally within CCP and externally, if required). We look forward to helping you.

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