MedWatch: Cowell Family Cancer Center Advisory Council

When Munson Medical Center started planning its Cowell Family Cancer Center they needed help.

Leaders knew exactly where to go to find it — to the people who’ve been there.

Today, they’re still looking for input.

Michelle Dunaway shows us how you can get involved in this week’s MedWatch report.

Bill Montgomery got his first prostate cancer diagnosis in 2008.

"In 2009 I got a call and the cancer was back, and it was rapidly growing and we had to decide to do something," says Bill.

He spent a lot of time traveling to and from Traverse City to get his treatment.

But today, he’s still battling the disease.

"That first time of chemo, that’s a scary time. No one ever said, ‘Oh, gee, get to do chemo today!’" says Bill.

But Bill can have the faith in knowing that he is in the best environment when he steps foot into Munson Medical Center’s Cowell Family Cancer Center.

He played a role in its design.

"Through my interest in the cancer center as a donor and a fundraiser, I’d gotten to know Christa. So Christa, if she wants you to walk to the moon and back, yeah you’d probably do it,” explains Bill.

Christa is Christa Kiessel.

She’s the director of oncology services, and recruited Bill to serve on the cancer program advisory council.

"The main focus when the group started was to help us with some of the questions we had about how to lay out the building, what kinds of services people were really interested in," explains Christa.

And these people knew first-hand what the patients needed.

"The group is made up of patients, family members who walked with a loved one through cancer, and sometimes friends who have a real passion for delivering good cancer care," says Christa.

Christa says some of their requests surprised her.

"If you were to walk into our staff lounge, you would be very surprised at how beautiful it is. It’s big, it’s got windows and has a door out to the patio, and that’s something that one of our particular members really had a passion for. She wanted to make sure that our staff that would be caring for and the people who are treated here that would be taken care of," explains Christa.

But the center itself was just the start. Today the group continues to offer input.

"We spent two or three meetings completely focused on the website and what people going through cancer would want, and how it could be a resource," says Christa.

For Bill, his priority is the "book" that all patients get.

"Here’s a month, what it looks like, and you can just write in your social and they’re going down and you’re going up, and this has just got it all right there," says Bill.

But for him and the rest of the ever changing advisory council, the work will continue and the hospital is always looking for more volunteers.

"I think it is absolutely essential that we are constantly seeking feedback from the people who are walking through these doors. To truly know what we need is to find out from the people who are going through it,” explains Christa.

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