Ron Clark’s 72nd birthday was his best yet. For him, May 17 didn’t just mark a new year, it meant that four years after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he was finally finishing his last treatment.
Now, he’s cancer free.
“It was a wonderful birthday present for me,” Ron Clark said.
At the time of his last treatment, Timpanogos Regional Hospital’s cancer unit was still in the basement. On Thursday, the Orem hospital opened its new cancer services, which include new technology, a move to the first floor and a space decorated with light accents and local nature photography.
“This is a community hospital, but it has access to technology you don’t see in a hospital this size,” said Jim Clarke, a radiation oncologist and the director of Timpanogos Cancer Services.
The new center — a partnership between Timpanogos Regional Hospital and Gamma West Cancer Services — introduces tomotherapy to the hospital through the Radixact Treatment Delivery System, which uses targeted radiation to treat cancers in places such as the head, neck, lung, breast and pancreas.
Gamma West Cancer Services first began using tomotherapy 10 years ago. The Orem machine is the organization’s fifth tomotherapy device.
There at 850 tomotherapy devices throughout the world. Its creator, Rock Mackie, expects more to be added to hospitals as the treatment’s reputation grows.
It’s something he’s bet his life on — literally. After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Mackie turned to his own invention for treatment.
“If you use the technology you produce, that gives people confidence,” he said. “It was the only choice. Everything else was inferior.”
The hospital’s cancer services have made Ron Clark a fan. He said the staff helped his family navigate painlessly through treatment. He even has a note in his wallet that if something happens to him, he should be brought to the Orem hospital.
He walked through the halls of the new cancer center Thursday for its ribbon cutting, checking out the rooms. He said the new space has the wow factor.
“It says hope,” he said. “It says there is a light at the end of this tunnel.”