LEXINGTON, Ky. — The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center has received the highest level of recognition awarded by the National Cancer Institute.
The National Cancer Institute awards “Comprehensive Cancer Center” designations to facilities that demonstrate a wide range of research at its laboratory, in addition to clinical and population-based research.
The honor acts as “a distinction that recognizes our commitment to accelerating precision cancer research and care to patients,” according to the center.
“The first facility in Kentucky to do so in fact; there are just 56 in the whole country, and now one of them is right here in the UK,” said Gov. Andy Beshear.
The center was awarded $13.5 million in grants to support research programs and get new equipment. Center leaders said they plan to add a new cancer center that will include open walking space for patients and their families to be more comfortable.
“An NCI designation is an incredible achievement, but in the state that suffers the highest cancer rates in the country, our job is to do more,” center director Dr. Mark Evers said.
Nearly 10,000 Kentucky families lose a loved one to cancer-related diseases each year. Beshear said that 97% of patients at Markey Cancer Center are Kentuckians.
“That means that this step today means that our people are going to get even better service,” he said.
Anna Cox is one of those Kentuckians who said her life was changed by the Markey Cancer Center. She attended the announcement.
She suffered from a blood disease leading to several weeks of transfusions over six months at the center. She said that was followed by endless calls to her doctors for reassurance.
She said her experience changed the trajectory of her life. Cox said having professionals who were willing to spend time developing treatment plans and go above and beyond for her in her recovery lifted many of her concerns. In fact, it was such a turning point that it actually inspired her to become a lifesaver herself.
“As soon as I got connected with one, all my stress was on my primary care doctor and she answered my questions whenever I was scared,” Cox said. “… Being able to see that is what I want to do and the kind of doctor that I want to be.”
Cox said one day she hopes to work in medicine. Having been a patient at the center before gives her a unique point of view.
“Being able to empathize with my patients is something that is going to be cool,” she said.
The Markey Cancer Center received an initial NCI designation in 2013. Since that time over 100 new cancer researchers have been recruited.
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