Tunnell Cancer Center offers calm port away from coronavirus storm

July 26, 2020

With all the different restrictions, warnings and ever-changing statistics brought on by the pandemic, it’s hard to adapt and stay positive. There is enough anxiety over whether to mask or unmask, questions about safe distancing and all the social events that summer entices through get-togethers.

But there is some reassuring news, and it is evident at Beebe Healthcare’s Tunnell Cancer Center. As an ovarian cancer survivor still undergoing chemotherapy, I am very familiar, sometimes too familiar, with this busy facility.

You would think that people with chronic illnesses like cancer and a myriad of other conditions would be just a sidebar to the coronavirus. I can tell you personally that is not the case here. Sure, precautions are taken as you enter the building, with temperature checks and mask requirements for everyone’s safety.

But the staff knows why you are here; it’s for another reason that takes the spotlight away from the virus and keeps you on your feet to challenge another day.

The staff greets you like an old friend, with a “we’re all in this together” attitude. Smiles, nods and friendly gestures are evident from workers down the line.

The center set up valet parking, so there is no circling looking for spaces, especially welcome with the recent oppressive heat. You can’t be friendlier than the workers here, who help you out of your vehicle and take it away with lots of laughter and good wishes. Even if you are not parking the vehicle, there is plenty of help to get patients in and out of cars.

After the temperature check, you meet lots of cheerful welcome at the registration desk. Everyone is checked to make sure they are there on the right day and time.

Seating has made safe distancing easy. A relative or friend is allowed to sit with you in the lobby before you are called for your treatment. Having someone with you is one of the most important factors, often overlooked, for healing. This helps allay a lot of anxiety and overrides that feeling of being alone when you face any of these diseases. The friends aren’t allowed back in the treatment area, but the nurses will come out and give them periodic updates.

Of course, the doctors, nurses and technicians are the backbone of keeping you balanced and onto the latest protocols available. I can’t express how important this, is and in my seven years of off-and-on chemotherapy, it has opened one treatment door as another one closes.

I guess what I am saying is it takes all of these people to make the building blocks that become hope and success for those with these underlying conditions. In most cases, that diagnosis is cancer. We are not only fighting one battle, but also the virus others are battling.

The Tunnell Cancer Center presents itself not as an institution, but almost as a refuge from the battering winds of destruction. And that is evident by the caring attitudes from everyone who works there. Trust me, I know – it is a beacon of light in our community. 

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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