Lodi Memorial Hospital Foundation Working to Save Lives with "Catch it Early"

Each and every one of us has been affected by cancer on some level. We know it is horrible. The physical journey of cancer hurts; the emotional journey of cancer hurts, and the literal journey, from Lodi to places like UCSF, Stanford, and UC Davis just makes everything that much worse. Soon, thanks to the generosity of our community and the Lodi Memorial Hospital Foundation, some of the best cancer care will be offered right here in Lodi. No more traveling to other areas for the best cancer care. No more expensive hotel rooms and gas. Everything will be right here.

The Lodi Memorial Hospital Foundation is in the process of raising funds for a brand new, state of the art cancer detection and early treatment program at Adventist Health Lodi Memorial. It’s called Catch it Early. “This campaign has really touched a spot in the community’s heart,” shared Wayne Craig, President/CEO of the Lodi Memorial Hospital Foundation. “The community has really stepped up. In the first month of this campaign, we’re over halfway to our goal. It’s a $2.6 million dollar project and we’re asking the community to partner with us for $500,000 of it. The foundation will fund the difference to assure the program is implemented by the end of 2019. Cancer is something that touches us all. I’m very confident we’ll be able to close this campaign early and literally save lives in Lodi.”

We know, without a doubt, one of the most important aspects of the fight against cancer is early detection. If cancer is detected in stage 1, there is a 90% survival rate for the next 10 years with most cancers. Compare that to if cancer isn’t detected until it’s grown to stage 4 and the survival rate, drops down to shocking 5%. Early detection is critical. And with over 1,800 new cancer cases diagnosed each year in San Joaquin County, there is clearly a need for more advanced early screening. That’s why the Lodi Memorial Hospital Foundation has made this such a high priority. 

The foundation released a short video when they launched the Catch it Early campaign. In the video, you see people from Lodi, our neighbors, explaining their journeys with cancer.  

Lana Carouba was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2010. It’s been 9 years and she is still making the journey to UCSF for life-saving treatment, sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly. You see her in the video with her daughter, in their Lodi High School sweaters, talking about the stress of commuting to and from the Bay Area and dealing with brain cancer. “It is stressful. Especially because traffic is very unpredictable. A 90-mile drive could be three hours. You’re late for one appointment and late for the next appointment. It’s nerve-racking. And my chemo treatments were six hours long when I started. Chemo is barbaric! They almost kill you, to save you. And especially when it makes you so tired and sick, having to get back in that car, to drive back home.”

The goal with this new Catch it Early center is to detect cancer as early as possible and provide early treatment. 

They’re doing this by first investing in state of the art imaging equipment for early detection of cancer.  This includes a new MRI, CAT scan, and biopsy equipment. Dr. Rogero, a radiologist, explains that the pictures will have more detail allowing them to see smaller things, things that they might not have seen otherwise. Second, they’ll be establishing a Cancer Panel of experts in the field. They’ll meet with the family within two weeks of diagnosis to develop an individualized and specific treatment plan. This will speed up treatment and open communication between patients and doctors. The third element of Catch It Early is to hire a patient navigator who will be a personal coach from diagnosis through cure. They’ll be there to provide guidance, even down to how to share your cancer diagnosis with others. 

Edith Ledbetter is another Lodi resident in the video. When she was diagnosed she had her surgery at Stanford. The Cancer Panel that Adventist Health will be implementing is modeled after the cancer panels at Stanford. “When I met with the panel, we discussed all this [her treatment plan] and they asked, ‘Do you have anything you would like to ask?’ and I said, ‘Yes. When can you schedule surgery, because I don’t want to wait any longer than I have to.’” A week and a half later, Edith had surgery. After that, she continued going to Stanford for treatments for 13 years.

Doctors aren’t immune to cancer. This project is near and dear to their hearts as well. Dr. McLoughlin, a Lodi radiation oncologist, has a darling 5-year-old daughter who has been battling cancer. He’s been taking his daughter to get treatment out of town and he admits it’s been scary. “People feel like they need to go to the universities because that’s where they’re going to get the best treatment and best equipment that’s available today. That’s just not the case.”

Battling cancer is an awful situation to be in. I don’t need to convince you of that. You’ve felt it. You’ve experienced it. We all have. That’s why it’s such good news that our community is supporting this campaign to make early detection more accessible and offer improved treatment. It affects all of us, and so in turn, this good work will benefit all of us.

“There is life after cancer,” says Dr. Carolyn Fowle. Dr. Fowle is a local clinical psychologist, a cancer survivor of 30 years, and another medical proponent of this campaign. “I guess I’m living proof of it.”

You can get more information and donate to this vital program visiting the foundation’s website at www.lodimemorialfoundation.org.