Karyn Buxman

Catching Up With Karyn

On Tour at Cancer Treatment Centers of America

On Tour at Cancer Treatment Centers of America

I absolutely love being self-employed. I’ve been my own boss for almost twenty years now. But if I were ever going to punch a clock for someone else ever again, I think I found where I would want to work: Cancer Treatment Centers of America. I had the opportunity to visit their facility outside of Chicago last week—they knocked my socks off!

When you arrive at CTCA you are greeted by a couple of valet attendants, who for no fee (won’t even accept a tip) park your car for you and escort you inside. When you enter, immediately you begin to feel the warm energy emanating from this place. On the wall to your left, a brass tree with leaves baring the names of patients who have celebrated at least 5 years of life since arriving. You then pass a large aquarium with beautiful fish on your left and a beautiful atrium with plants and soothing music to your right. A friendly person at the reception desk greets you and quickly determines how to best suit your needs.

The hospital looks more like a hotel (The Ritz, not the Super8), with heavy wooden doors and molding on all the wings, attractive carpeting beneath your feet and beautiful artwork and heartwarming pictures in all the hallways. Rarely will you hear an overhead page (“It disturbs the sleep of our patients,” I was told.)

CTCA boasts the finest state of the art equipment, but what really makes them special isn’t the high tech—it’s the high touch. The founder, Richard Stevenson, created CTCA based upon what he calls the Mother Standard® of care. In the 1980s his beloved mother developed bladder cancer and he searched across the country for someplace that would give her the care he felt she deserved. Finding none, he determined that he would create a place, himself. Each person would be treated with the same unconditional support, warmth and respect that one would want for their own loved one, because everyone is someone’s mother, father, sister, brother, daughter or son.

Katherine Puckett, PhD and Director of Mind Body Medicine at CTCA is one of the most down-to-earth folks I’ve ever met. She told me of a time when she was seeing a patient in her office. Katherine apologized for the piles of reports and files that lay on her desk. The patient smiled and said that he found her office comforting, then explained, “It’s evident that you place people before paperwork.” That’s the mindset in this place—how comforting!

CTCA offers a comprehensive and integrative approach to fighting cancer. Traditional tools for fighting cancer such as surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy are combined with complementary therapies including nutritional support, physical therapy, pain management, naturopathic medicine, spiritual support and mind-body medicine. This enables patients to better tolerate the treatments which can kill the cancer, but can also be devastating to their physical and mental health.

On Tour at Cancer Treatment Centers of AmericaOne of the approaches used in the Mind-Body Department is humor and laughter. Dr. Puckett and several other staff members took training several years ago to become Certified Laughter Leaders (CLLs). Since then, numerous other staff have been trained and now laughter therapy, or Laughter Clubs are offered regularly for patients and their families. Participants come away feeling healthier, happier and more energized.

Kudos to the folks at CTCA. They get it. The patient is the focus of all that is said and done. Like I said, I’m not really looking for a job, but if I were, I hope I could make the cut. It would be a real privilege to work among such great people.

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