Heading Toward the Finish

Rachael Keating/Clinton HeraldThe Oncology teams for Mercy Medical Center and Medical Associates on Wednesday stand next to a graphic showing how much money they have raised so far for the new linear accelerator. Missing from the photo is Dr. Mark Dion.

CLINTON — It’s time to finish the fight.

That’s the attitude coming from the oncology departments at Medical Associates and Mercy Medical Center.

Staff members in both departments have been planning a run/walk slated for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at Eagle Point Park. The event is being called “Coming Together to Finish the Fight,” in honor of the linear accelerator fundraising campaign.

To Marla Naeve, a member of the Medical Associates Medical Oncology and race committee, it’s a fitting way to near the conclusion of the linear accelerator fundraising campaign.

“This success in getting the linear accelerator project going, it’s a success for all,” Naeve said. “It’s a success for all of the patients that we share. That’s what we’re trying to get the community to see. We’re not separate entities. We’re working together for them.”

Both groups came together in recent months to help raise money for the linear accelerator campaign.

By the end of 2018, it’s likely the capital campaign to raise $2 million for the radiation machine that targets and destroys cancer cells, will conclude.

The campaign has netted more than 90 percent of the $2 million goal, leaving a little more than $100,000 to go before the machine can become a reality. Once the machine is purchased to be used at Mercy Medical Center, it can make Mercy better equipped to handle a multitude of different cancer treatments, including breast cancer, thus eliminating the need for patients to drive to Iowa City and increasing its capability of offering treatments for more intricate cancer locations, like head and neck areas.

Darla Olson, dosimetrist and radiation therapist for Mercy, said the cooperation between the two healthcare organizations has been great in planning the event.

“I think the staff at Medical Associates and here have the same passion to care for our cancer patients,” Olson said. “It’s super easy to work together. We’re all working together for a common cause and that’s to benefit our patients. We want to keep them local for cancer treatment.”

The current linear accelerator was purchased at the time the center was built in 2004. The center, located on Fourth Street in front of the North Campus, is a joint effort between Mercy and the University of Iowa Health System. With the machine now in its 13th year, the medical center and Radiation Oncology staff anticipate the new technology will offer greater precision delivered in less time.

Olson previously said it can take 15 to 20 minutes for each radiation therapy visit. The new machine will reduce the treatment time and provide greater accuracy in treating each unique and individual tumor.

“I’ve been here since 1995 in radiation and oncology, and when I see those patients out locally, it’s very rewarding,” Olson said. “Most people would think this is a sad place, but it’s not. We have the best patients. We know them like family.”

Coming together to orchestrate an event is not common between the two entities. However, the staff members work together often when treating patients, and Medical Associates has hosted multiple fundraisers, one of which occurred this week as a bake sale, in attempting to raise funds for the machine.

“What our joint effort comes down to is our patients,” Naeve said. “We want to keep our patients local. For them to be driving to Iowa City on a daily basis for 36 to 38 days straight, it’s a tremendous hardship on families, caregivers and the patients themselves.”

The committee is expecting approximately 200 people to participate in the family focused event. Currently, there are 150 people signed up for the event. Sign-ups will continue throughout the next week, with same-day registration also being accepted. Registration will begin at noon Oct. 21 at the lodge. The event will feature more than just a 5K race and 1-mile walk, too.

There will be a bouncy house, Chase, from Paw Patrol, will make an appearance, and pumpkin-decorating, which can honor someone who has battled or is currently battling cancer, will be offered at the lodge.

The race is $20 per person, with the money going toward the linear accelerator. Even if you can’t participate, residents can sign up as Spirit Walkers to make a donation.

For more information, call 244-3611.