The Best Care, Right Here At Home

When Dave McCalley came down with a sore throat shortly after Christmas 2005, he took an over-the-counter remedy and expected it to clear up in a few days. But as winter stretched on, so did Dave's symptoms.

Unlike many people who might have ignored the problem, or chalked it up to a chronic condition, Dave kept looking for an answer. Why were his symptoms getting worse, despite testing and treatment? Why was he having increasing pain and difficulty swallowing?

Finally, nearly two years after he first experienced that sore throat, Dave had an answer, an intimidating and frightening answer--he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma at the base of his tongue. "I have no idea why I developed this disease. I don't have any of the typical risk factors," Dave explains. He didn't smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or chew tobacco.

To Dave's benefit, he works at American Century Investments. Forty percent of the firm's profits support the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, endowed by American Century founder Jim Stowers, Jr., and his wife Virginia to conduct research to help cure genetically-based diseases including cancer, diabetes and dementia. American Century Investments also collaborates with the Lance Armstrong Foundation in support of their mission to inspire and empower people affected by cancer. Thanks to those resources, Dave had access to the best cancer care in the country.

"I could have gone anywhere for treatment," Dave says. "But after doing some research, I found that I could receive excellent care right here at North Kansas City Hospital. It was important to me to be near my family, friends and faith. I can't imagine going through this experience without them, or the hospital's cancer treatment team," Dave says.

Because of the tumor's location, surgery wasn't an option for Dave, so shortly after receiving his diagnosis, he and his wife Theresa met with North Kansas City Hospital radiation oncologist Patrick Townsend, M.D.

Dr. Townsend, who is affiliated with Therapeutic Radiologists, Inc., presented Dave with his treatment options, including the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial through the National Cancer Institute. "Dave chose to take part in the trial and received an aggressive course of radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy over a six-week period," Dr. Townsend says.

Thanks to intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), a sophisticated radiation therapy technology available at North Kansas City Hospital, Dr. Townsend was able to design a treatment plan that targeted the cancer, but spared the surrounding healthy tissues. From Nov. 18 to Dec. 29, 2007, Dave underwent seven weeks of radiation treatments and two intense rounds of chemotherapy.

By the beginning of 2008, Dave was on the long road to recovery. Within a year, he regained his strength and dramatically improved his ability to swallow, eat and speak. Through it all, he has relied on the health care professionals at North Kansas City Hospital.

"Even though there are significant side effects to this treatment, we were able to support Dave during his treatment and recovery with effective pain relief, and follow-up care, such as swallowing, nutrition and speech therapies," Dr. Townsend explains. "Dave was very motivated and that played an integral part in the treatment's success. He understood this was his best opportunity to effectively treat and potentially cure the cancer."

"Everyone at North Kansas City Hospital gave me off-the-charts care," Dave says.  "It was better than anything we could have expected. The cancer treatment team is a remarkable group. They gave me all the encouragement and support I needed to get through this. It is clear that I matter to them as a person, and that's important when you are facing an illness like cancer."

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Inpatient Cancer Unit, 5th Floor Hospital

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Outpatient Cancer Center, 5th Floor Hospital