Dr. Cindy Scharfen and Dr. Fred David with TrueBeam Radiotherapy machineLate last year, Jake Norman, a 44-year-old father of two, came to Santa Rosa Memorial’s Emergency Department with a severe headache, nausea and vomiting. Tests revealed a large, 8-centimeter tumor in his brain. Fortunately, our neurosurgeons were able to remove the tumor. He was referred to the radiation oncologists at Providence's Round Barn Cancer Center for post-operative radiation. Jake required 33 radiation treatments, which left him weak and debilitated. In addition, Jake’s treatment meant that he had to wear a cumbersome molded mask that fit tightly over the head each day.

The good news is that Jake is now feeling great and his tumor has disappeared. He is grateful for the care that he received from his physicians and the staff at the Cancer Care Center. He said “I couldn’t be happier with the care I received. Everyone treated me as though I was a member of their own family. My only wish is that my treatments didn’t take so long and that there were fewer of them. I missed a lot of my daughters’ school and sports events.”

Dr. Cindy Scharfen and Dr. Fred David both St. Joseph Health radiation oncologists, agreed that Jake’s wish for faster and fewer treatments will be fulfilled with the acquisition of the TrueBeam Radiotherapy System with HyperArc by Varian. “This new technology will be a game changer,” they say.

Recent innovations in linear accelerator technology have revolutionized and improved the way patients receive their radiation treatment. The TrueBeam will improve outcomes and the patient experience. Higher-intensity doses can be directed into the tumor, which will reduce the number of treatments required (five sessions versus 30) as well as decrease the duration of each treatment. Tumors can be more precisely located and imaged, and radiation doses can be shaped to match the profile of the tumor more accurately. The patient’s breathing can be monitored during treatment, which ensures that the radiation always hits the tumor. These enhancements prevent healthy tissue from receiving unnecessary radiation.  Further, the TrueBeam will allow our physicians to treat brain tumors more efficiently and it will be possible to treat multiple tumors simultaneously.

This important enhancement to our radiation oncology program will allow us to treat more patients than ever before, while achieving better treatment outcomes, improved patient experience and safety. We are currently fundraising for the TrueBeam and hope to have it in use in next year. If you would like more information about how you can help, please contact any member of the Foundation team.

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