Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology http://www.tbropa.com Mon, 20 Mar 2017 07:18:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 The Culture of Care http://www.tbropa.com/the-culture-of-care/ Fri, 31 Jan 2014 03:48:25 +0000 http://www.tbropa.com/?p=5255 Dear Dr “Jack”:

I hope you will accept this letter of heartfelt appreciation and share it with every member of your Staff. I am so grateful for meeting and having been treated by you, Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology and your CyberKnife group.

Following my diagnosis of cancer, I determined to research each of the recommended therapies via online and in-person consultations. My parameters were not only based upon length of treatments and severity of potential side effects but also seeking special care from knowledgeable professionals with credible systems and a proven track record.

Every member of your staff from receptionists, nurses, technicians, physicists and even your other physicians (not directly involved in my case) met me with genuine empathy. They volunteered their time, offering full explanation of the treatment plan, the amazing technology involved in its development and robotic direction, sharing even the digital images of my case. While it “ain’t pretty” it sure is impressive!

To me, of equal importance to the therapy and what sets you apart from others I consulted is what I describe as “the Culture of Care.” It’s clearly evidenced in your people and practice.

Yours very truly,

Volunteer Chairman
Charitable Airlift Meeting Medical & Humanitarian Needs

Mammograms Save Lives http://www.tbropa.com/mammograms-save-lives/ Fri, 31 Jan 2014 02:04:15 +0000 http://www.tbropa.com/?p=5243 Early detection and family support are essential for patients battling breast cancer.

In 2010, during a routine mammogram, Linda Ortman, a Gibsonton native, was told she had a lump in her left breast. The news came as a shock to Linda and her loved ones, especially since there was no history of breast cancer in her family. Linda turned to her family – her twin sister, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – for support.

“We were all caught off guard,” says Linda. “Hearing the word ‘cancer’ is always scary, but with the support of my family, I was hopeful I could beat it.”

After a mastectomy, Linda learned the cancer was aggressive. She was told her time was limited. In addition to this news, Linda was grieving the loss of her long-time partner only five days before hearing the news about her own condition.

Fortunately for Linda, she was able to find moral and professional support from her local doctors and their teams.

“A second family”

“For the radiation therapy following my surgery, a close friend referred me to Dr. Steel at Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology,” Linda says. “Their doctors and nurses became a second family as I soon learned my battle with cancer had only just begun.”

Despite completing 33 treatments at Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology, Linda’s ordeal only worsened when a follow-up appointment revealed that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. She scheduled surgery to have 13 lymph nodes removed. Additionally, cancerous cells were also found in her lungs and treated.

Today, she is cancer free.

“Linda is living proof that routine mammograms can save lives, and that is one of the most important messages we as oncologists can promote,” says John R. “Jack” Steel, MD, with Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology.

Hopeful that other women will benefit from her story, Linda has become a proponent of routine mammograms.

“I do my best to spread the word that mammograms are important,” Linda explains. “I’m always referring my friends to my doctors to provide advice on treatment options and medicine. I’m glad my battle has provided encouragement to my family members as well. I want them to take care of themselves. I expect them to be around for a long time to come.”

Facts about Breast Cancer

Breast cancer (malignant breast neoplasm) originates from breast tissue, most commonly from milk ducts or lobules. Symptoms usually include a lump that feels unique compared to the rest of the breast tissue. Prognosis and survival rate depends on specific type and staging. While a majority of cases are found in women, men can also contract the disease. Risk factors include age, race and family history.

Treatment to increase the chances of long-term survival is determined by the stage, rate of growth, and other tumor characteristics. Available options include:

  • Surgical removal of tumor
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Radiation Therapy

Our Doctors

Drs. Steel, Kahn, Greenberg, and Koval are board certified by the American Board of Radiation Oncology.

John R. “Jack” Steel, MD, received his training in radiation oncology at the University of Southern California Medical Center.

Randy Kahn, MD, received his training in radiation oncology at NYU Medical Center and Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.

Harvey M. Greenberg, MD, received his training in radiation oncology at Harvard Medical School.

John M. Koval, MD, received his training in radiation oncology at Naval Regional Medical Center in San Diego, CA.

How Horses Can Help Patients Heal http://www.tbropa.com/how-horses-can-help-patients-heal/ Fri, 31 Jan 2014 00:37:26 +0000 http://www.tbropa.com/?p=5235 It’s not a prescription that a doctor can write. It’s not something insurance will usually pay for. But more patients are finding out how horseback riding, or even just being around the animals, can help them feel better.

Rockin’ Horse Farm in New Port Richey offers different types of therapy with horses.

Mike O’Neill is beginning treatment for prostate cancer at Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology. During a recent appointment, he saw a brochure that advertised a visit to Rockin’ Horse Farm in New Port Richey.

“We like to go to the horse races and the dog races, but to actually get up close and personal doesn’t happen too often,” O’Neill said.

He and his wife are self-proclaimed animal lovers, but don’t have any pets of their own. They brought their son and two grandchildren who were visiting from Pennsylvania to the farm.

“He’s trying to keep busy to keep it (his cancer) off his mind,” said his wife, Dianne.

O’Neill wasn’t at the farm for physical therapy; he got the therapeutic benefits of having a day that wasn’t focused on his illness. That’s exactly the point, according to Dr. John Koval of Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology.

“Particularly our patients with cancer, you just want them to have as much in the way of positive experiences as possible,” Koval said. “If this is something that can bring a smile to their face by working with the horses, and they can get a little exercise at the same time doing it, then that’s just great.”

The O’Neills said it took an hour to drive from Brandon to the farm, where they toured the barn and groomed a horse, something they had never done before.

On that day, Rockin’ Horse Farm was an oasis of sorts, a calm and peaceful place to spend time and be around animals. On other days, the farm serves another purpose, offering another kind of therapy with horses, called hippotherapy. The unfamiliar term has nothing to do with hippopotamuses.

“You can find incidents of hippotherapy back in the Greek literature in the writings of Hippocrates but ‘hippos’ itself means horse in Greek,” Koval said.

Koval explained that the movements of a horse’s hips mimic the movement of a human’s hips, which is why the therapy can be so effective for patients who need to build up strength throughout their body.

The treatment is considered experimental. In general, most insurance doesn’t cover it. But Amy Baird, who runs Rockin’ Horse Farms, has seen it work firsthand.

“For people who have issues with the spine, there’s nothing better than horseback riding,” Baird said. “We’ve had a student with scoliosis who has had part of her condition corrected with horseback riding.”

Baird also said they have had students with autism who have said their first words on the back of a horse. But since most companies won’t pay for it, Baird said she tries to keep the cost low because she knows families are paying for the treatment out-of-pocket.

None of the insurance companies who responded to inquiries from Health News Florida about coverage for hippotherapy said it was something they typically cover.

“Cigna does not cover hippotherapy because it’s considered to be experimental, investigational or unproven,” Mark Slitt wrote in an email. “There are some exceptions when a plan sponsor (employer) chooses to include coverage, but the standard policy is no coverage for this treatment.”

Among some of the other companies that do not cover hippotherapy are Florida Blue, Humana, UnitedHealthcare and Aetna, which developed its policy because of a lack of scientific evidence on the therapy’s effectiveness.

WellCare, which administers plans for the Florida Medicaid program, referred questions to the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration.  AHCA did not reimburse the state Medicaid plan for the treatment in 2011 or 2012, according to spokesperson Shelisha Coleman, but through the Medicaid Waiver program, the treatment could be covered for some patients.

“Medically necessary hippotherapy services can be offered to a recipient through the Developmental Disabilities Home and Community Based Waiver’s Consumer Directed Care Plus (CDC+) program option,” Coleman explained.

Lynn Bankston of Quantum Leap Farm in Odessa said she has worked with several patients whose insurance companies have paid for the treatment, even though the company’s standard policy is not to reimburse them.

She said it is often more trouble than it’s worth to try to convince the insurance companies to pay for it, but it’s not unheard of.

“It’s a battle,” said Bankston, who said some companies are willing to make it happen.  “It’s pretty tedious to bill.”

More information about the research being done on this type of treatment is available from the American Hippotherapy Association.