Cancer patients in southern Illinois will soon have new opportunities to receive their treatments closer to home, as one of the region's largest healthcare providers broke ground on a comprehensive cancer center in Williamson County Friday.
The Southern Illinois Healthcare project, located just west of John A Logan College in Carterville, will bring specialists and their treatment techniques under one roof, allowing cancer patients to avoid traveling long distances - sometimes out of state - to get the care they need. Local radio personality Lia Mira Lerner has taken her cancer battle public - and is currently cancer free. But she says making the drive to St. Louis to treat the disease took her away from her family - something she hopes this center will help other patients avoid: "This Cancer Center is going to change lives. It's going to change cancer. Because when this place opens, cancer patients will be spending more time at home - and cancer will not be winning that day."
Doctor Deepak Malhotra was recently hired as the SIH Cancer Institute Medical Director. He says there is no reason a patient should have to travel out of the region for treatment- and he's excited to bring this care closer to home: "Patients in southern Illinois - people in southern Illinois - should be able to get the same kind of cancer care that they get in Chicago, that they get in St. Louis, that they get in Washington, DC, what have you."
Fundraising is still going on for the Cancer Center - the multi-million dollar facility will likely be ready to open in about two years.