Last year, while in the midst of planning her wedding, Carrie Baker, D.O., an emergency room medicine physician at Kettering Health Network, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“As a doctor, telling someone they have cancer is one of the most difficult conversations to have with a patient and their family. I still remember the first time I had to tell someone this horrific news,” recalled Baker. “As a patient, getting that news was a surreal experience. The reality that it could happen to me was terrifying.”
Every cloud has a silver lining
Becoming a patient herself gave Baker a new perspective and a different, far deeper level of connection, compassion and empathy for those facing cancer that she may not have experienced were it not for her own diagnosis.
“So many wonderful people came into my life due to cancer,” said Baker. “That was the silver lining.”
One special group of people that Baker became involved with is the patient advisory council for the new Kettering Cancer Center, opening in December on the campus of Kettering Medical Center.
The 30-member council, made up of cancer patients, their families and physicians, has met on a monthly basis for over a year, to give input to Kettering Health Network from the perspective of people who have lived through a cancer diagnosis and treatment.
“As cancer patients, we were given the opportunity to change the way cancer care is delivered in our community. As an osteopathic physician, the mind-body-spirit connection is the foundation of my practice. The patient advisory council encompasses this,” explained Baker.
Designed by patients for patients
During their monthly meetings, Baker and her fellow patient advisory council members reviewed the building architecture and made recommendations for layout and design, based on patient needs. They gave input on everything from providing emotional and financial support, pain management, and education resources, to nutrition, spiritual care, complementary medicine, transportation and the retail store. They even tasted food that will be served in the cafe and gave advice on services that they would like to have provided, including massage and wigs.
“They really listened to us and created a center designed in collaboration with patients,” said Baker. “We have talked about all aspects of planning, including whole-person treatment, which is important to me as a physician, as well as a patient.”
Open house for new cancer center
Kettering Health Network is proud to share their new cancer center – built by patients, for patients – with the community on Wednesday, Dec. 7, from 4-7 p.m. The Kettering Cancer Center is located in the new Pavilion on the campus of Kettering Medical Center at 3535 Southern Blvd.
The open house will include:
“Being a part of the patient advisory council has been a wonderful experience,” said Baker. “It is a relationship that will continue beyond the opening of the new physical building, because it is more than that. It is a change in the way cancer care is delivered.”