$2 Million in Community Support Through TMH Foundation Makes New Radiation Technology Possible

When you have a serious illness, time is precious. For those diagnosed with certain cancers, it usually means having to undergo 20-30 radiation treatments. With Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare’s (TMH) new Varian Edge Linear Accelerator, that number can be reduced to four or five treatments, giving the patient the gift of time — time with their family and friends and to do what they enjoy most — not having to drive to a hospital for weeks to endure treatments that may take days from which to recover.
This latest technology at Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Center is made possible in part by a $2 million gift from the TMH Foundation, the largest ever made by the Foundation to TMH. The TMH Foundation, with generous support from the community, provides funds to support the services, programs, patients and families of TMH.
“This technology helps patients keep living on their own terms,” said Kathy Brooks, RN, Administrator of Oncology Services at TMH. “We are minimizing risks, reducing side effects and extending lives now more than ever before. And, thanks to donor support, patients can receive this advanced treatment right here, in their own community, without having to travel to a ‘big city hospital.’ ”
The total cost of the accelerator was $4 million, with an additional $1 million needed to install the unit. The first patients began treatment on the new machine Nov. 12.
“The Varian Edge can deliver radiation up to four times faster than standard clinical accelerators,” said Philip Sharp, MD, TMH Physician Partners – Radiation Oncology and Medical Director of Radiation Oncology. “This new piece of technology helps us come up with a customized treatment solution for each unique patient faster than ever before.”
And it’s not just speed that has improved with the Edge – so has precision.
“This accelerator allows us to sculpt radiation to address extra-small lesions, which no one else in our region can do,” said Sam Faulkner, Chief Therapist for Radiation Oncology. “We can more accurately treat cancer while sparing healthy tissue, thereby reducing side effects, enhancing patient comfort and improving overall effectiveness of the treatment.”
In addition to patients with prostate, breast and lung cancer, the Varian Edge will improve treatment for other patients, including those suffering from brain lesions who may otherwise have to undergo more invasive, traditional brain surgery.
“In some cases, we can ablate those same cancerous brain lesions in as a little as one 15-minute appointment,” Dr. Sharp said.
The Varian Edge joins two existing Varian linear accelerators at TMH – with one, the Varian TrueBeam, installed less than a year ago. Both the Edge and the TrueBeam serve unique purposes for patients at the Cancer Center.
“The Varian Edge and Varian TrueBeam are both advanced radiation therapy systems, each with unique advantages,” Dr. Sharp said, adding that the Edge specialty lies in ultra-precise treatments for small, well-defined targets, while the TrueBeam accommodates a wider array of treatment types and locations throughout the body.
The introduction of the Varian Edge to the Cancer Center’s robust array of treatments demonstrates the power of giving and the direct impact donors can have on increasing the quality of healthcare in their own community.
“It is so gratifying to see the ways our donors come together day in and day out to help provide the best care possible for the patients we serve,” Nigel Allen, President and Chief Advancement Officer of the TMH Foundation said. “Technology and healthcare are evolving rapidly, and at TMH we strive to ensure that our patients receive cutting edge medical technology. Our donors – and our community – make that possible, and I am eternally grateful for their support.”
Learn more about the services provided at the Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Center by visiting TMH.ORG/Cancer. To learn more about how you can provide support to Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare that directly impacts local patients, visit TMH.ORG/Foundation.