Compassionate Cancer Care
MidAmerica Cancer Care takes its philosophy of treating the whole patient to an unforgettable new level.
“Compassion is an action word with no boundaries.” (Prince)
Someone once emphasized you should do things for others not because of who those people necessarily are or what you might expect in return, but that you should do those things because of who you are. Apparently, the entire staff of MidAmerica Cancer Care got that message, as their acts of kindness and compassion for their patients have no boundaries.
Being on the receiving end of a cancer diagnosis can be quite devastating. You feel as if you are drowning in a sea of emotions, many of which are often unrecognizable as you begin to charter this new and uncertain territory. Tending to the most basic of daily tasks may seem monumental as you prepare yourself for the journey ahead. Life feels suffocating and overwhelming. You may not even know in which direction to move. You need help and support. But from where will you get this?
For many cancer patients and their families, help and support can be found at MidAmerica Cancer Care (MACC). Established in 2019, the mission of MACC is simple yet profound: to provide compassionate cancer (oncology) care to patients right in their own communities. Due to the unique nature of cancer and tumors, it is important to develop a unique treatment plan for each individual patient. The medical experts at MACC focus on treating the whole patient and not just the disease itself. They do this through the use of leading-edge technologies and programs offered in a uniquely personal and compassionate setting.
Overseen by Dr. Jaswinder Singh, M.D., the success of MACC can be attributed to its team of exclusive doctors and staff, all of whom work tirelessly to provide the best possible care for each patient. MACC has four physicians and 10 Nurse Practitioners on staff throughout its 10 locations. With 50+ years of combined experience, MACC stands with each patient as if they’re family.
A Heart of Service Spans Multiple Locations
The main location of MACC is located on the campus at St. Joseph Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri. However, these specialists visit patients in multiple locations, both rural and metropolitan, including Bates County Memorial Hospital, Belton Regional Medical Center, Carroll County Memorial Hospital, Cass Regional Medical Center, Encompass Medical Group – Hickman Mills Clinic, Midwest Health – Golden Valley, Overland Park Regional Hospital, Research Medical Center – Oncology, and Western Missouri Medical Center.
MACC offers new patient consults, follow-up out-patient visits, in-patient care, correspondence with Primary Care Providers, care planning, immunotherapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, IV and oral treatments, palliative care, supportive care, and more.
Most important, MACC provides a lifeline of trust, compassion, and a level of care seemingly unheard of elsewhere. Patients and their families soon come to realize that a few caring people can change the world, especially when that world is their own cancer journey.
Understand PanCan (from pancan.org)
Although MACC treats patients with all types of cancer, the team’s primary area of interest is gastrointestinal cancers, into which pancreatic cancer falls. When pancreatic cancer (also referred to as pancan) develops, it is the result of abnormal cells within the pancreas that divide and grow uncontrollably, forming a tumor. A gland deep within the abdomen and located between the stomach and the spine, the pancreas is responsible for creating enzymes that aid in digestion and help hormones that control blood sugar levels. Pancan often spreads to other parts of the body, including the liver, lungs, bones, and lymph nodes. As the 10th most commonly diagnosed cancer, more than 62,000 people in the United States are anticipated to be diagnosed with pancan in 2022 alone. That breaks down to 170 people every day, unfortunately affecting the patients and their families. Among those affected individuals are Roxie and Jerry Hayes and Lilly and Dennis Fullman.
Roxie Hayes and her husband Jerry were hit with the news the day before Thanksgiving in 2016. Jerry had undergone the removal of his gall bladder after some blood work he had done for work purposes previously indicated elevated liver enzymes. After his gall bladder was removed, however, the enzyme levels still remained high. Jerry was referred to a gastrointestinal specialist, Dr. Syed Jafri, who discovered Jerry had pancreatic cancer. Dr. Jafri referred Jerry and Roxie to MACC. That was the beginning of not only their often painful journey, but also of the cornucopia of many blessings they would receive along the way.
“When we first met with Dr. Singh, we made a plan,” recalled Roxie. “Jerry began his chemotherapy in December of that year and then six weeks later would undergo the whipple surgery, in which the cancer was cut out and his digestive system was essentially replumbed.”
Dr. Singh advised Jerry and Roxie of the complexity of the surgery, which left Jerry in the hospital for two weeks as he adapted to the changes within his eating habits.
“I never met a doctor and team of practitioners more compassionate than Dr. Singh and his staff,” emphasized Roxie. “In our first meeting with him, my mind was in a tailspin. It is rare to catch pancan early, so I knew this would be a difficult journey.”
Roxie and Jerry were treated with the utmost of respect and care from their very first encounter with the staff at MACC.
“Everyone on the staff took us in as family,” reflected Roxie. “They go above and beyond for their patients, advocating for them every step of the way.”
Despite the tornadic mix of appointments, treatments, and roller coaster of emotions, Roxie and Jerry always felt at home with their new extended family. Even after Jerry’s passing in 2021, the unwavering support continued. Roxie now works for MACC in the office and has also established the Jerry Hayes Foundation, which raises funds to send other pancan patients and their families on vacations to the Lake of the Ozarks. Once you are at MACC, you are always a part of their loving family.
Roxie and Jerry also made some new friends along the way, which included Lilly and Dennis Fullman. Traveling a similar journey, these two couples created a lasting bond that has since been a lifeline for both ladies as they dealt with losing their husbands to pancan.
Much like it was for Roxie and Jerry, receiving a diagnosis of cancer was a sharp blow for Dennis Fullman and his wife Lilly.
“It was quite a shock,” recalled Lilly. “Dennis was healthy and, as a runner, was physically fit. He was diagnosed with pancan on Valentine’s Day in 2018 but had not been feeling well since October of the previous year. We saw several specialists to see what was wrong with him, and it was not until we saw Dr. Calvin Beck that it was discovered. He told us he would find us the best oncologist he could find, which led us to Dr. Singh and MACC.”
After Dennis underwent a couple of surgeries, he began his journey with MACC.
“Even though our initial meeting with Dr. Singh was overwhelming, we instinctively knew we were in the right place with the right people to help us,” smiled Lilly. “The nursing staff has the best supporters. They encouraged us so much, and we really appreciated the expertise between all of them. Everyone on the staff – even Mason the receptionist – was incredibly professional, compassionate, and knowledgeable. We were the ‘need-to-know’ people and they never tired of us asking questions. They helped us through some of our most desperate moments.”
It was in the infusion room that Roxie and Jerry met Lilly and Dennis. They bonded over similar journeys, hopes, and fears. Their friendship quickly grew, with Jerry often cooking food for Dennis and bringing it over to the Fullman’s home.
“Although we knew both Jerry and Dennis were terminal, Roxie and Jerry never gave up on us,” expressed Lilly. “They became our best friends, and we became each other’s lifeline.”
One of the biggest highlights of Dennis’ final days was meeting his great grandson. He wanted to make it long enough for him to be born. Fueled by the hope instilled in Dennis by Dr. Singh and his staff, that wish prevailed. Dennis’ great grandson was born on a Saturday. He got his wish fulfilled to hold him. Three days later, Dennis passed away.
“Dennis asked Dr. Singh to please keep him alive long enough for that moment,” reflected Lilly. “Dr. Singh told Dennis he would do his part if Dennis did his. It was almost magical in some way to experience that transition as Dennis wanted it.”
The Staff at MACC
MACC greatly values its staff of professionals, which includes Dr. Preethi Ramachandran, MD, FRCP, FRCPath; Dr. Hasan Bit-Shawish, MD; Dr. Nicholas Shuler, DO; Becky Kellam, FNP; Brandi Samson, NP; Carson Burns, AGNP-C; Katherine Collins, DNP, NP-C; Moeid Riaz, FNP-C; Sandra Cox, FNP; and Shea Fijal, FNP. To the Hayes family, the Fullman family, and all of the patients and families for whom they care and treat, all of these people are genuine heroes as well as the many oncology nurses who serve alongside Dr. Singh and our nurse practitioners.
The End of a Chapter, But Not the End of the Story
While grief and sadness were a heavy part of these families’ stories, that pain and despair was balanced with faith, hope, and love.
“I am in awe of how Dr. Singh and his entire staff fight for their patients, caring not just for the patient but for the whole family,” marveled Roxie. “To this day, we are all still important to them. I don’t know what we would have done without them.”
Call 660.383.3197 or 816.835.2261