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Norris Cotton Cancer Center North Celebrates Third Anniversary

November 14, 2008

One million commuter miles saved-and counting. That's only one of the many reasons to celebrate for staff and patients who gathered November 14 at Norris Cotton Cancer Center North (NCCCN) in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, to recognize the facility's third anniversary.

"The overall theme of this year's celebration was the importance of having the center here and the impact it has made," says Lory Grimes, RN, BS, MEd, Clinical Manager at the state-of-the-art installation. NCCCN provides radiation therapy and advanced chemotherapy treatment to residents of New Hampshire's North Country and Vermont's Northeast Kingdom who are in need of services closer to home. "In the first year that we opened, we saved patients over a million miles of travel by [their] not having to go to [Norris Cotton Cancer Center in] Lebanon. Our numbers continue to grow, and we continue to add staff to meet our numbers. We are much needed in the North Country."

On hand to celebrate NCCCN's continued success were invited speakers Mark Israel, MD, Director of Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center; Grimes; patients Janis Henderson and Sara Simpson, and patient-volunteer Gail Deveraux, who shared their cancer experiences and the impact NCCCN has made on their lives; Laura Dean, radiation oncology nurse; and Teresa Laberge, radiation therapist.

To meet the challenge of managing its current caseload of 10,000 visits per year, the center has added several new programs and the staff to support them, including: representation from Lebanon for the Familial Cancer Program; nurse practitioner Peggy Bishop for the Palliative Care Program; dietician Sharon Anderson from North Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH); and social worker Linda Rudee from Caledonia Home Health and Hospice. In the works for 2009 is a plan to offer therapeutic chair massage four hours per week.

NCCCN's continued growth has been nurtured with a $50,000 endowment from the Gladys Brooks Foundation, which will be used to purchase material acquisitions needed to develop a cancer resource library. In further support of that resource initiative, Grimes adds, a $75,000 grant application has been completed to develop space and personnel support for the library.

The dedication of NCCCN staff and volunteers to the cancer community extends beyond the limits of the facility's walls. In 2008, their participation in the Relay for Life walk-a-thon generated $15,000 for cancer research. In 2009, in addition to the Relay, the team will be taking the plunge by adding a charity Polar Bear Swim to its fundraising repertoire.

With NCCCN poised to accomplish even more success in its fourth year of operation, the raison d'tre of the facility is never far from Grimes' mind: "The anniversary celebration is a chance to celebrate who we are and what we do. We take the opportunity to recognize our staff members, who do an amazing job; our volunteers, who are tireless; and mostly the patients, who are so courageous and inspire us all."