Tears flowed in the crowd Friday morning as breast cancer survivor Tracie Kent shared her story at the site of the new Siteman Cancer Center coming to Shiloh early next year.
“When I was told I had cancer, I had no words to describe how scared I was,” Kent, 43, said. “I have two daughters… who need me.”
Kent, who was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2018, received treatment at Siteman’s temporary facility in Swansea. A celebration marking construction for the center’s new home was held Friday at Memorial Hospital East.
The temporary center at 4000 N. Illinois Lane gave Kent the option of staying in Illinois for treatment, and soon patients who need cancer treatment will have the same option at a new state-of-the-art facility in Shiloh.
Memorial Hospital East will soon be home to a new $38 million medical office building and cancer treatment center where patients and their families will have access to multidisciplinary care, state-of-the-art technology, a lounge with a fireplace and pharmacy.
The 70,650-square-foot space will be the first of its kind in the area.
“What a privilege is it to be in Southern Illinois,” Siteman Director Dr. Timothy J. Eberlein said in a statement Friday. “Siteman Cancer Center has long wanted to be an even bigger part of this great community. Siteman at Memorial East will offer a welcoming, calming environment where patient will receive the most advanced cancer care.”
That care will include “clinical trials offering investigational cancer therapies, which are largely unavailable elsewhere in the region, expect for at other Siteman locations,” Eberlein said.
Building the new center also marks a new chapter for Memorial Hospital. Memorial Hospital in Belleville opened Memorial East in 2016. The next year, Memorial bought out co-owner St. Elizabeth’s Hospital’s share of the Cancer Treatment Center on North Illinois in Swansea. It also announced plans for a Siteman building, originally expected to open in late 2019.
In January, both Memorial hospitals became part of BJC Healthcare after a two-year “strategic alliance.”
Siteman is headquartered on the Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine campuses in downtown St. Louis.
Four other satellites are at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, Siteman Cancer Center South County and Siteman Cancer Center at Christian Hospital.
President of Memorial Regional Health Services Mark J. Turner expressed his gratitude to community partners Friday.
“Our objective on a daily basis is to not only meet, but exceed our expectations to provide the very best care to our patients in an accessible manner.” Turner said Friday during the ceremony. “This means so much to our community as we work toward the next stage.”
Siteman is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center within 275 miles of St. Clair County, according to a press release.