By: Tom Fink | Category: Health & Fitness | Issue: April 2019
Dr. Terry Styles (center) and board-certified radiation therapists Robin Mixon (left) and Kacie Morris (right) with one of the clinic’s most effective pieces of equipment, the Varian Halcyon treatment system.
For nearly six months, Northeastern Oklahoma Cancer Institute in Claremore has been changing the lives of cancer patients through cutting-edge technology, compassionate care and board-certified medical professionals.
Among those on its medical team is Dr. Terry Styles, M.D., who was there from the very beginning.
“I think we treated our first patient here in mid-June, and since then, we’ve continued to increase our patient volume as local community members and physicians become aware of our presence,” said Dr. Styles, attending radiation oncologist. “We have had a great welcome from the community because patients are challenged sometimes to travel to Tulsa or have a family member drive them to treatments somewhere outside the area.
“While there may be several radiation oncology centers in Tulsa, and of course, many in Oklahoma City and others around the state, our location in northeast Oklahoma serves as a great convenience to those around the area,” Dr. Styles said. “We have patients who come from Rogers County, but also Grove, Grand Lake and other towns surrounding the county.”
Front office coordinator Megan Parkinson greets customers, checks in patients, helps schedule appointments, assists with insurance matters, and more.
Dr. Styles said the clinic’s proximity in Rogers County is a “huge asset” to patients who are receiving daily treatments Monday through Friday, sometimes for as many as eight or nine weeks, saving them the inconvenience of multiple trips to Tulsa or even further.
“When we opened, we thought we might be limited in what we could treat, but because we have so many patients who, no matter what, weren’t going to make it to Tulsa, we found we could treat just about any cancer which requires radiation treatment,” she continued. “We treat a lot of lung cancer patients, skin cancer patients, breast cancer patients, prostate cancer patients, and a smattering of other types of cancers.”
Northeastern Oklahoma Cancer Institute provides patients with a variety of radiation therapy services, such as external beam radiation therapy, intensity modulation radiation therapy, and image-guided radiation therapy, using the latest available technology.
In addition to being the only cancer treatment center of its kind in northeast Oklahoma, one of the things that sets the clinic apart from nearly all in the country is the equipment it has at its disposal, such as the Varian Halcyon treatment system. At the time the center opened, it was one of only four in the United States.
“Varian is the one of the leading producers of radiation delivery machines in the world. The Halcyon, as with most linear accelerators, delivers the radiation in such a way to protect more of the surrounding structures (tissue), thus limiting collateral damage,” she said. “Also, it’s super-fast – reducing the average treatment time from 5-10 minutes to under two minutes -- and that goes a long way toward patient comfort. We see about five patients an hour, so walking them in and getting them ready for treatment actually takes longer than the treatment itself now.”
With the top-of-the-line Halcyon here, I know that our patients are going to be getting the best possible treatment,” she said.
Dr. Styles, a Philadelphia transplant who has been a physician for more than 20 years, said that although many statistics surrounding cancer have remained consistent, others have been shifting, such as cases of increased lung cancers and colon cancers in young people, but also, longer life expectancy for those receiving a cancer diagnosis.
“We, in the area of radiation oncology, are seeing more and more patients that benefit from radiation treatments at some point during the course of their disease,” she said, “and I personally feel like I’ve seen a huge shift in that. Even patients who are diagnosed with a more advanced disease are living longer. Because we can now deliver treatment more safely and more accurately, we are more aggressive –we see more success and the patients are living longer.”
Also working to save lives at the clinic in Claremore is Dr. Diane Heaton, who is the facility’s medical director.
“Dr. Heaton has been in the Tulsa area for many years, and she was instrumental in us developing the center here, as she recognized the need for it,” Dr. Styles said, “and she was instrumental in my coming to Oklahoma in 2017. We’re in very similar places in our careers, we had a good meshing in terms of that, and she’s the one who spoke to me about the need for
When contemplating what advice to give anyone who receives a cancer diagnosis, Dr. Styles said to work closely with the doctor.
“People will sometimes get online and read all these horror stories from people who’ve had terrible experiences after getting a diagnosis of cancer – that can be very scary,” she said, “but talk to and work with your doctor. People who have been diagnosed with and beaten cancer? They’re out living their lives, and that’s what we’re here for – to help people who come to us with cancer to beat it and get back to living life.”
Northeastern Oklahoma Cancer Institute is located at 1501 Florence Avenue (#191) in Claremore. Patients are treated primarily in the mornings, with regular office hours being 7 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday, although someone is in the office through the afternoon to receive calls and answer questions.
For more information, contact the clinic at 918-283-4078 or visit them online at www.NEOKcancer.com.
Northeastern Oklahoma Cancer Institute is located in Claremore at 1501 Florence Avenue.
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