Foundation program honors Dr. Lyss; presents latest news on cancer treatment


The key message from the annual donor appreciation luncheon hosted by the Friends Foundation at Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital was, in the words of Dr. Alan Lyss, “together, we’re taking cancer down.” The event was also an opportunity to honor Dr. Lyss for his 25 years of service to the hospital and community.
Dr. Theresa Cavins, breast specialist and general surgeon (pictured at right, top); Mary Crecelius, MSN, WHNP, APNG, CCBE (pictured at right lower), and Dr. Alan Lyss, medical director of the SGCMH oncology center, all presented exciting news on the cancer fighting front.
Dr. Cavins talked about the individualized and state-of-the-art breast care that patients receive at Metis Breast Care at the Bloomsdale Medical Center. She also thanked the many Friends’ donors, in particular L’hoist and Bloomsdale Bank, for their support in bringing 3D mammography to SGCMH, one of the first in the area.
“Early detection saves lives and 3D Mammography finds 40% more cancers early overall,” she said. “We focus on prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and I so appreciate working with Dr. Lyss and our oncology colleagues.”
In introducing Mary Crecelius, Dr. Cavins said she plays a huge part in cancer prevention. As an Advanced Practice Nurse in Genetics, Crecelius said this is an exciting time to be involved in hereditary cancer genetics.
“Ten percent of cancer is thought to be caused by a harmful genetic mutation,” she explained. “If present, these mutations can be passed down from one generation to the next. If we can identify a person with a harmful genetic mutation before they develop cancer we can offer screening strategies to help prevent cancer from occurring. Genetics is an area where new information is expanding exponentially.”
Crecelius had high praise for Dr. Lyss.
“The women I talk with unanimously describe Dr. Lyss as not only very calm and caring and able to translate complicated regimens into understandable choice, but he’s also so kind,” she said. ‘His presence has affected these women and their families in profound ways. It is definitely an honor to say that I work with Dr. Lyss.”
Dr. Lyss with his dry wit, quoted George Burns in saying, “For a dynamite presentation, you’ve got to have a great opening and a killer ending. You should put them very close together.” He went on to say how much he enjoys coming to Ste. Genevieve.
“I have been coming to SGCMH for 25 years and I have to tell you there is not a day that goes by that I don’t realize how very fortunate I am to be able to work in this community with strong supporters like the Friends Foundation, all the corporate sponsors, donors, and a stable, consistent, visionary leader like Mr. Kiem. I am also so lucky to be able to work with the doctors you have in this community and of course our magnificent oncology staff.”
Dr. Lyss brought a chuckle from the house when he said oncologists are boring.
“The things that excite us bore most people,” he said. “Some remember where they were when Kennedy was shot. For oncologists, we remember where we were when we hear about promising cancer data for the first time.”
This was the case when he attend the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting a couple of months ago.
“There on the billboard by the Conquer Cancer Foundation was the motto– together we’re taking cancer down,” he said. “For an oncologist it was like being under a waterfall of exciting information. Five years ago when I was there, I learned of oncologists engineering a compound to block the PDI receptor which is an inhibitory T-cell receptor that acts as a “brake” to avoid immune over-activation, and I was stunned by their study. Now 5 years later when I attended there were literally thousands of abstracts about this technology that can really assist us with a whole variety of cancers.”
He went on to give examples of how the advances in cancer treatment are constantly moving the needle and extending the lives of patients, sometimes by months, sometimes by years.
“There are a lot of patients alive today who are able to be at family events and enjoy their family for longer periods of time,” he said. “I’m proud of those incremental increases because they do add up. I do think that it’s fair to say that due to clinical research we are taking the Big C down. It is research that cures cancer. Thanks to your support, the hospital administration, hospital staff, and this entire community little by little we’re getting to where we need to be, so thank you all very much.”
Tom Keim took the opportunity to sing the hospital’s praises and salute Dr. Lyss. He outlined the major equipment purchases like the 3D Mammography and OB Central Monitoring System; to the surgery center expansion—all of which make SGCMH not your typical rural hospital. Also included on the list were recognitions of being one of the top 150 places to work in healthcare for a third time and rcently being named one of the nation’s most wired hospitals.
“We have a true gem here providing care to our patients that you would expect to see in much larger facilities, and I will tell you our physicians would be top notch in any facility, anywhere-- including Mayo Clinic,” he said.
Keim gave tribute to Dr. Lyss.
“Ten years ago, we wanted to have a lasting tribute to Dr. Lyss, so we named our oncology department in his honor—the Alan P. Lyss Center for Cancer Care and Clinical Research,” Keim explained. “There is not a more caring, gentle, genuine person that cares about each and every patient. For everyone who comes in contact with him he is a magnet for just how you treat other people. I have listened to him at the Ride to Survive, and it’s unfortunate we don’t have thousands of people there to hear what our oncology department is doing and the many advances coming forth in cancer care and treatment.”
Bruce Giesler, the Friends president, gave sincere thanks for the community’s support in the foundation’s work to benefit the hospital.
“The foundation does make a difference,” he said. “I’m proud to say the foundation has approved more funds and by year’s end we will have donated over $100,000 back to the hospital. Thank you all.
The Friends Foundation was formed in 2003 and current members are Bruce Giesler, president, Mary Odneal, vice-president, Mike Horrell, secretary/treasurer, Craig Ruble, MD, Jim Francis, Theresa Cavins, MD, Robert Walsh, MBA, MS, PhD, CRNA, Jan Loida, Bob Palmer and Laurie Ebeling.
For more information on the Foundation, contact Shawn Long, Friends Director, at 573-883-7725.

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