Celebrate Excellent Care

Tunnell Cancer Center care is personal and professional

May 8, 2018

It was the middle of the night when Warren Baker awoke to an itch on his leg. As he scratched it, he felt what he thought was a tick. He instinctively held the tick in place and headed to the bathroom to remove it. When he got there and inspected his leg, he found it wasn’t a tick, but more of a small lump under the skin.

“I thought maybe it was some sort of bite and went back to bed,” Warren recalls. When it didn’t go away, he showed it to his family doctor. A biopsy revealed it was melanoma. Warren saw Dr. Ramakrishna Tatineni, a member of Beebe General Surgery – Cape, who removed the lump and a section of tissue surrounding it.

“I figured I would get it removed and that would be it,” Warren said. “It didn’t happen that way, though.”

After the surgery, tests showed the cancer had already traveled to a lymph node in Warren’s groin. That’s when Warren and his wife of 46 years, Cindy, met with Dr. James Spellman of Beebe Surgical Oncology.

“The first time we met with Dr. Spellman was eye-opening,” Cindy recalls. “He was so direct about what was going to happen, it was a little scary, but we really appreciated it. We knew this man was going to help us.”

Spellman removed the lymph node and continued to have regular follow-up visits with Warren.

“It was about four years later when Warren found another bump under the skin in the same area,” Cindy said. “We went to Dr. Spellman and he told us that this time, they were going to go for all of it. I knew we could trust him. We felt confident in his skills.”

Warren underwent major surgery at Beebe’s medical center earlier this year. Following the surgery, he went to Tunnell Cancer Center to see Dr. Nisarg Desai, medical oncologist, who suggested a clinical trial. At the encouragement of Dr. Desai, Cindy and Warren traveled to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore to get a second opinion from Dr. William Sharfman, a top melanoma expert in the nation.

“The first time around, we passed on a clinical trial, but this time there was more evidence that immunotherapy was working well for patients with the type of melanoma that Warren had,” Cindy said. “Dr. Sharfman knew Dr. Spellman and Tunnell Cancer Center. He told us the immunotherapy infusions had seen some great results and said that we should have them at Tunnell because they would be exactly the same as what we would get at Johns Hopkins. We were sold. We could have the treatment and stay in our home where Warren can relax and recover.”

Immunotherapy is a long process involving regular infusions at Tunnell Cancer Center. Warren said he has felt pretty good throughout the process, and he likes that he can be in his home where he enjoys tinkering and working on old cars and motorcycles. A carpenter by trade, Warren, now retired, likes to keep busy. The couple’s children and grandchildren are all living in the area, so they enjoy spending time with them. “They bring us pure joy,” Cindy said.

The red-haired, freckle-faced boy who used to spend his days on the water now encourages everyone he knows to wear sunscreen and protect themselves.

“Back then we didn’t know, but now we make sure everyone wears sunscreen and hats,” Cindy said. “We are hoping our story helps someone else.”

Warren and Cindy feel lucky they found Tunnell Cancer Center because the care they have experienced is both personal and professional.

“I trust my doctors here at Beebe because we are getting the same treatment we would get at Johns Hopkins,” Warren said. “Everyone at Beebe has showed me such kindness, but they have also shown they are experts at providing care.”

“It’s important to have both expert care and kindness,” Cindy said. “It’s just so important.”

Find out more about Beebe Healthcare’s Tunnell Cancer Center at