In September 2011, my husband, Charlie Graf, was told by his primary physician, Dr. John Dixon, he needed a tonsillectomy. Charlie was referred to a new doctor in town, Melanie Geisler. His procedure was scheduled a short while later at Mercy Hospital. Dr. Geisler said her nurse would come out in about two hours to tell me how the procedure went. Instead, within 20 minutes, Dr. Geisler came to me and said: “I’m sorry, he has cancer.”
Hearing the word "cancer" is horrifying and the fight is not one that is fair.
Telling Charlie the outcome when he came to, we set upon the cycle of doctor visits: Dr. Mark Dion, radiation oncologist at Mercy; Dr. Anoop Aggarwal, oncologist at Medical Associates; and a trip to Iowa City to be fitted for a mouth guard. The super medical team of Dion, Aggarwal, Geisler and Dixon was aligned to work 100 percent for Charlie to beat Stage 4 tonsil cancer. His treatment consisted of 39 radiology pinpoint areas provided by our local linear accelerator. The cancerous tonsils and affected lymph nodes were the radiation focus. He was fitted with a Darth Vader-type mask; the nurses were caring and compassionate and Dr. Dion was knowledgeable and factual. All were comforting attributes I appreciated as his caregiver.
Having the capability of receiving his radiation treatments here in our community allowed Charlie the immediate comfort of home and family instead of creating needless stress by driving to another community to obtain these life-saving treatments.
With the tremendous care of his great medical team, Charlie is now nearly 7 years out from the initial diagnosis and resulting treatment. We believe this is directly attributable not only to the care, but the ability to receive the care just minutes from our home. We also believe everyone has a right to receive this level of access to treatment. That’s why we support the efforts underway to replace the linear accelerator whose life expectancy is reaching its end. Out of an initial cost of $8 million, this campaign is in need of just under $400,000 to reach its goal.
Please consider sending your tax deductible donation to the Mercy Healthcare Foundation of Clinton, 1410 N. Fourth St., Clinton IA, 52732. Any amount you would send or pledge to commit will truly make a difference.