Published on October 24, 2018

Mercy adds more cancer doctors

Improving quality and availability of our cancer services

We are adding some new faces to the cancer-fighting team, a move that will boost local access to high-quality cancer care.

The new doctors include radiation oncologists Shefali Gajjar, MD, and Weisi Yan, MD, and medical oncologists Yu Yu Thar, MD, Pooja Lothe, MD, and Rajesh Thirumaran, MD.

Here’s a quick look at the care these experts provide for people with cancer:

Medical oncologists have special training in treating patients with chemotherapy drugs (medicines designed to kill cancer cells). They also manage treatment side effects and other aspects of the disease overall.

Radiation oncologists are trained in using radiation (either external beams or implanted seeds) to treat cancer. Today’s radiation treatment methods can home in on tumor cells while sparing healthy tissue. As a result, these newer methods help treat cancer better but with fewer side effects.

Taking cancer care to the next level

Carmine VolpeWith more cancer doctors joining Mercy, the community gets better access to even more oncology expertise close to home, says Carmine Volpe, MD, Medical Director for the Cancer Center and a surgical oncologist.

An expanded staff helps ensure timely access to a highly qualified cancer specialist when you or a loved one needs it. And it will help us develop doctor teams who subspecialize in specific cancers, Dr. Volpe says.

“The addition of even more highly trained oncologists means the hospital right in your own neighborhood is capable of treating the most serious cancers,” Dr. Volpe says. “You don’t have to go elsewhere.”

Rehab program helps cancer patients cope with side effects

Arm rehab therapyGoing grocery shopping. Getting dressed. Walking to the kitchen for a glass of water. Cancer and its treatments can drain your energy and make even routine tasks like these an ordeal. But help is available.

Mercy has an outpatient rehab program that helps people with cancer manage related side effects, including fatigue, weakness, pain, difficulty walking, swelling and loss of balance, which can lead to falling.

Improving physical and mental strength

Occupational and physical therapists with additional cancer training lead the rehab sessions. They provide services designed to improve strength and movement needed for everyday activities during and after cancer treatment.

“The stronger you are, the better you are able to manage the side effects,” says Michele Zappile-Lucis, Administrative Director of Oncology. “Getting more energy and more strength helps you physically. But there’s also a mental health aspect of the rehab program.”

Oncology rehab helps cancer patients get back a big piece of their lives by improving their ability to function independently.

“When people go through cancer, a lot is taken away from them,” Michele says. “Being able to do things on their own—like being strong enough to walk to the kitchen and get your own meal—these things are important to people.”