Faith Regional’s Carson Cancer Center is celebrating providing 30 years of hope to cancer patients throughout Northeast Nebraska. What started as a hope and a wish has become a thriving center of healing for many patients and families touched by cancer.
After receiving approval from the State of Nebraska in January 1987, the Lutheran Community Hospital Board of Directors and Administration began plans to build a radiation therapy center for cancer patients right here in Norfolk. Fundraising for the $1.3 million expansion was led by Dr. Gordon Adams. The project was made successful through a combination of many generous donors and a $650,000 gift from former Norfolk resident Johnny Carson, given in memory of his parents, Ruth and Kit Carson. Construction broke ground on October 16, 1987 with the Grand Opening and Dedication of the Carson Regional Radiation Center occurring exactly one year later.
Throughout the past 30 years, the now Carson Cancer Center has experienced many changes, including location, technology, and treatment advancements, but familiar faces have stayed the same. Dr. Mohammed Zahra, who started with the Center in 1988 continues to serve as the radiation oncologist. Many of the current staff have also worked at the Center since or near the opening and have a combined expertise of 252 years.
Other facts about the Center include:
- Treatment planning for the first patient was initiated on November 10, 1988. By the end of the year, 39 patients had received treatment. Currently, over 7,000 patients have received treatment through the Center.
- Many treatment advancements have taken place through the 30 years, including the transition from using lead blocks to a multi-leaf collimator, film imaging to digital imaging, a single-slice CT scanner to a 40-slice CT scanner, and paper charting to electronic medical records. Treatment modalities include 3-D conformal treatment, intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), and volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT).
- Following the merger of the Lutheran Community Hospital and Our Lady of Lourdes in 1996, the Center was renamed the Carson Regional Cancer Center. In 2003, the newly named Carson Cancer Center was relocated to the hospital’s Medical Office West Building and both medical and radiation oncology services began to be offered at the Center.
- The Center now offers a Nurse Navigator for breast cancer patients, clinical trials and research registries offered in collaboration with UNMC and the Cancer Alliance of Nebraska, and a greater focus on survivorship and aftercare.