$1 million gift funds oncology center

The new TCU oncology center opened this year when it received a $1 million donation from the University of Texas Southwestern Moncrief Cancer Foundation in Fort Worth.Suzy Lockwood, director of the Center for Oncology Education and Research, said TCU was notified by the foundation last spring of the donation and the gift was funded Sept. 1. She said the gift will be dispersed over a five-year period.

Lockwood said they submitted a proposal to the foundation for the creation of the oncology center. She said the donation was the “seed money” for getting the center started. She also said the donation was consistent with the foundation’s mission to improve the care of patients.

“The goal of the funding and the purpose of the center specifically is to increase the number of nurses who go into oncology and stay in oncology,” Lockwood said.

Sara Kearns, a junior nursing major, said she is very interested in oncology not only because of it’s growth rate in America, but because many of her family members have been diagnosed with cancer.

“Just helping one person in the fight against cancer is worth the time and effort you put into it,” Kearns said.

Lockwood said the funding will also go to research, education programs, certification and courses.

The first class for credit will be offered in the spring for undergraduate nursing students, Lockwood said. She also said the department is developing an undergraduate nursing certificate that will focus on oncology.

Kathy Johnson, a junior nursing major, said she is very excited about the donation and the oncology center. Johnson said she is interested in taking the course since she has worked with cancer patients before and enjoyed the experience.

“I want to have further teaching before I graduate,” Johnson said, “especially since I don’t know what I want to do yet in the nursing field.”

Lockwood said there is no name for the course yet but it will count as a special problems elective course.

“If they incorporate a cancer class into our curriculum, then students would be prepared to deal with cancer patients,” said Alenna Figueroa, a senior nursing major.

Lockwood said the funding is to focus on nursing, but the center will expand outside of that as well.

Lockwood said she wants the center to educate health care professionals on how to take care of oncology patients and families, including people in kinesiology, social work and other departments. She said she wants to collaborate with other areas.

“The center will be very interdisciplinary,” Lockwood said. “To take care of oncology patients and their families, it needs more than nurses, but a variety of different people.”

Lockwood said they will continue to apply for funding and grants during and after the five-year period, seeking out different agencies in addition to the UT Southwestern Moncrief Cancer Foundation again.

According to the center’s Web site, the Moncrief Cancer Center was established in 1958 and is known as one of the nation’s first community radiation therapy facilities. The center became affiliated with UT Southwestern in 1999.