UPMC Susquehanna – Cancer Center

Hometown healthcare for cancer patients

by Amiee Jones – May 30, 2018

For individuals in our local communities who are going through the atrocity of cancer, there is comfort in knowing that a comprehensive cancer center is available right in Tioga County. UPMC Susquehanna Soldiers + Sailors provides full care for each patient’s situation, as each case varies slightly. A doctor assesses the condition, and then customizes a treatment plan with the patient.

Joseph Kaplan, MD is one such doctor in the cancer center at Soldiers + Sailors. Dr. Kaplan originally became enthralled with medicine after a personal incident as a child. His father took him to the doctor to check on swelling in his groin, with the fear that it may be a hernia. The doctor proceeded to check his feet, and saw that the condition was connected to an infected blood blister on his big toe. Treating the infection caused the swelling to go away, and young Kaplan was hooked on the intricacies and wonder of medicine!

Fast-forward to today, and Dr. Kaplan is focusing on medical oncology, guiding patients through the treacherous waters of dealing with cancer. Fortunately, Wellsboro offers a complete cancer center, taking away the need to travel great distances for treatment. Dr. Kaplan sites that Soldiers + Sailors is equal to Williamsport’s facility, offering not only IV treatments (fluids and chemotherapy) and the latest MAB’s (cancer medications known as monoclonal antibodies), but also the administration of meta ports, in cases that need direct access to the vascular system. In the event of necessary radiation, Soldiers + Sailors provides a connection with Divine Providence cancer center in Williamsport. Dr. Kaplan refers to Soldiers + Sailors program as a “Gold Standard” in cancer treatment.

In reference to helping patients through their cancer experience, Dr. Kaplan stresses the importance of communication. He is sure to take ample time with each patient to sit down and reach a full understanding of the circumstances. He uses the metaphor of comparing the body to a home. Each room of the home (relating to different body regions) has different equipment (relating to the organs in each region). This approach helps the patient understand how their systems operate. In addition to thorough explanation and care, he understands the importance of a positive attitude and demeanor when interacting with his patients.

A lot of support for someone going through cancer treatment can come from loved ones, as well. From the perspective of family and friends, Dr. Kaplan recommends continued communication. The practice of “mirroring”, or restating what the person has said to you, can be very helpful in allowing the person to be heard. For instance, if a loved one with cancer expresses a fear of dying, rather than reassuring them that they are not dying (which will dismiss what they are experiencing), respond with a repetition of their statement. (i.e. “You’re afraid that you are dying?”) This will help the person to feel heard, as well as open lines of communication for further thoughts and feelings that they may be facing. After all, in such difficult circumstances, the support of family and friends makes a great difference!

The cancer center at UPMC Susquehanna Soldiers +Sailors is a significant resource to our county. The treatment plans are up to date with current medical research, with the added convenience of being close to home. For more information about the services offered, visit the UPMC Susquehanna website here.

Idea/Concept: UPMC Susquehanna
Videography: Andrew Moore
Video Editing: Andrew Moore
Writing: Amiee Jones
Anchor: Sara Vogt
Correspondent: Rhonda Pearson

Produced by Vogt Media
Funded by UPMC Susquehanna

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