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— Studies show that spirituality may play a factor in healing, and a new cancer center in Searcy will include a “hope” garden for patients.

White County Medical Center is partnering with the Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute and White County Oncology and Radiology Associates in a $6.8 million construction project that will encompass chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatment suites. The Cancer Center of Excellence also will house new breast-cancer, imaging and appearance centers, as well as a healing garden, called the Rideout Family Garden of Hope.

The 23,000-square-foot expansion to CARTI, 415 Rodgers Drive in Searcy, broke ground in July 2010 and will have a “soft” opening in August.

Part of the project will be completed toward the end of July with an estimated opening of White County Oncology, the Diagnostic Center and the Breast Center in August. The rest of the construction is scheduled to be completed in October. A grandopening is tentatively set for 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9, Feltrop said.

According to the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment reported that a survey of articles published in the Journal of Family Practice over 10 years found that 83 percent of studies on religiosity found a positive effect on physical health. Religiosity was measured by participation in religious ceremony, social support, prayer and belief in a higher being, the American Cancer Society website states. Another study of two major psychiatric journals over 12 years found that for the studies that measured religiosity, 92 percent showed a benefit for mental health, 4 percent were neutral, and 4 percent showed harm.

An analysis of 43 studies on people with advanced cancer noted that those who reported spiritual well-being were able to cope more effectively with terminal illnesses. Major themes of spiritual well-being included self-awareness, coping with stress, connectedness with others, faith, empowerment, confidence and the ability to live with meaning and hope.

The healing garden is geared to feeding that spiritual well-being. The chemotherapy suites at the new center feature floor-toceiling windows so patients will have a view of a new healing garden, and natural light will flow through the suite.

“When I first learned of the garden, it gave me a great sense of hope because this is for patients who are undergoing chemotherapy treatments,” said Robbye Rideout, whose experience with cancer led her to be an integral part of the new construction. “The treatment chairs will be placed round the chemo room, and all of [the patients] will have a view of the garden outside. I felt that it would be nice to see a lovely garden and help the patients as a beautiful distraction from the treatment.”

There are plans to include a water feature, greenery and flowers, so as the chemotherapy works to heal the body, the gardens will heal the mind and spirit.

“The garden will give patients something to focus on while they are at the cancer center,” Rideout said. “This is a wonderful project, and one we feel is so important to provide patients. We are excited to be part of developing the cancer center along with the [White County Medical] Foundation.”

Although Dr. Ryan Koch with White County Oncology doesn’t guide his patients spiritually, he does believe the complementary therapy is beneficial to healing.

“Methods of complementary therapy, such as the healing garden, are important because they give our patients the best quality of life possible during their journey through cancer treatment,” Koch said. “It keeps their minds fresh and reassures them that they are on the right track.”

The facility is also designed with families in mind.

“We hope to provide them a convenient place where they feel confident and comfortable receiving treatment, while offering a spacious environment for family members and caretakers,” Koch said. “I feel it is important to focus on spiritual treatment and healing, in addition to medical treatment. By addressing the spiritual and social aspects of cancer treatment, we will provide a holistic treatment approach in caring for the body, mind and spirit of each patient.”

Cassandra Feltrop, executive director of the White County Medical Foundation, said the community has been supportive of the foundation’s project.

“Our community has really gotten behind us and helped us to raise funds for the Cancer Center of Excellence,” Feltrop said. “There is still time to help, as all funds have not been raised yet.”

For more information on the new centers or to offer financial help, call Feltrop at (501) 278-3191 or e-mail her at foundation@wcmc.org.

— jbrosius@

arkansasonline.com

Three Rivers, Pages 55 on 06/09/2011

Print Headline: Hope for healing

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