SATURDAY SALUTE: Fight to cure cancer gets boost here in Nebraska

A hearty Saturday Salute goes this week to everyone involved in the project to build a new state-of-the-art cancer center in Omaha.

The Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, previously known as the Eppley Cancer Center, has been involved in cancer research and treatment for more than 30 years. It received its National Cancer Institute designation in 1983.

In about six weeks, it will open a new facility that will provide totally integrated cancer research and cancer care. Medical staff treating cancer patients and cancer researchers will all be working in the same 10-story, 635,000-square-foot building.

Dr. Kenneth H. Cowan, director of the cancer center since 1999, spoke to the Grand Island Rotary Club this week about what this facility will mean to the ongoing battle to cure cancer.

With the facility, Cowan said, “We wanted all the clinical cancer providers to work closely with the researchers so they can focus their research on problems that patients are facing today.”

For the patients, he said, “It will mean that we can actually provide more hope through research and extraordinary care. It will mean one-stop shopping as they (patients) will make one appointment and will be seen by the entire team at one time so they don’t have to have multiple visits.”

This year, 1.7 million people nationwide will be diagnosed with some type of cancer, and 600,000 will die of the disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. But more people are surviving cancer because of an emphasis on early prevention, new medical technologies and the development of precision medicine that tailors cancer treatment to the individual.

Cowan was promoting the Cattlemen’s Ball, which will take place on June 2 and 3 at the Lonesome River Ranch near Anselmo in Custer County. The event has raised more than $20 million for cancer research in Nebraska during the past 20 years, with the fundraiser held each year on a different ranch somewhere in the state. This year’s hosts are Jeff and Lisa Johnson.

Cowan said the event “really highlights the importance or research and providing new care and opportunities for cancer patients.”

We also salute the Johnsons and everyone who is coming together to raise funds for cancer research through the Cattlemen’s Ball.

Volunteers making a difference every day in Central Nebraska

We also take this opportunity to salute the many volunteers throughout Central Nebraska who do so much to help in any way they can, as we conclude the celebration of Volunteer Recognition Month in April. This is also Serve Nebraska Week, a week set aside to emphasize the countless opportunities to volunteer throughout our state.

Thank you to all of you who give so much, from Habitat for Humanity volunteers who help build houses to those shelving books at the public library and the volunteers at CHI Health St. Francis, along with thousands of others who give of their time and talents for a wide variety of causes. You are making a difference.

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