– Arturo Bernal, Cancer Survivor
Arturo Bernal, age 59, has a big family here in Laredo and enjoys spending time close to the ones he loves. Finding out that he had stage 4 cancer was difficult, but being able to receive care in Laredo helped him get through his treatment. In choosing to go to the cancer program at Doctors Hospital of Laredo, he recalls telling his wife, Nelda, “I don’t want to go to San Antonio, I want to be here with you all.”
Bernal’s first sign of cancer started with a lump on his throat, which he noticed when he was shaving. After seeing his doctor and then going to a specialist for testing, he was diagnosed with locally advanced throat cancer. “It got pretty scary,” he recalls.
Soon after, he met Manuel Jovel, MD, Radiation Oncologist at Doctors Hospital of Laredo. Dr. Jovel has been with Doctors Regional Cancer Treatment Center since its inception and has helped many patients.
Having the support of a caring, experienced staff was comforting, Bernal says. “They gave me this confidence that everything is going to be fine.”
Dr. Jovel explains that Bernal did not need surgery, rather he was treated with a combination of chemotherapy and IMRT (intensity-modulated radiotherapy), which has been available at Doctors Hospital for several years. “IMRT technology allows us to increase the dose of radiation for the malignancy, and decrease the radiation for the surrounding tissue,” Dr. Jovel notes. This can help to protect healthy tissue and focus on the cancer. “Now we can give radiation and chemotherapy, and the results are as good as with surgery,” he says.
Bernal started treatment in January 2017 and finished around the end of March. The staff members at the cancer center are “awesome,” he says. “They always asked a lot of questions and wanted to know how I was feeling. They were like family.”
Learn More about CANCER CARE >
Doctors Regional Cancer Treatment Center was established 30 years ago to provide vital care for patients in the Laredo area. Over the years, it has continued to bring new treatments and medical advances to the community.
One important way the program supports improvements in care is through involvement in research and clinical trials, explains Breast Cancer Surgeon Gary W. Unzeitig, MD, FACS. This enables qualifying patients to participate in studies that test promising new ways to treat and manage cancer. Doctors Hospital of Laredo was identified among “High Performing Sites” in December 2016 by the Leadership Management Committee of the National Cancer Institute’s National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) based on its accrual, participation and high level of data quality.
Achieving the best possible outcomes for patients often involves getting input from different doctors and specialists. With this in mind, the staff holds weekly meetings to share information and ideas, notes Medical Oncologist/Hematologist Eduardo Miranda, MD. “This is very good for the community to have this multidisciplinary approach,” he says. “We elevate care to the level of bigger centers.”
“While we have continued to provide better, more sophisticated treatments, we don’t forget we are treating human beings,” says Dr. Jovel. The personal, caring approach of the staff continues to set the cancer program apart. “It’s very rewarding to see patients and follow them for many years,” Dr. Jovel says.