Congressman swings through Rutherford
When U.S. rep. Patrick McHenry made a swing through Rutherford County on Tuesday, he was serenaded by students at Spindale Elementary School before visiting the 21st Century Radiation Oncology office on Daniel Street in Forest City. The office is an affiliate of Radiation Therapy Associates of Western North Carolina.
McHenry met Dr. J. Scott Roberts, radiation oncologist, and his staff as they shared their work in helping to cure cancer.
There are eight radiation centers in Western North Carolina, including the one in Forest City.
“We are here to serve the patients where they live, so they do not have to travel,” said regional office manager Malanie Rogers.
“We don’t want them to be shipped out to Charlotte or other places because we have state-of-the-art equipment right here,” she said. “We don’t want our patients to have to travel, and we work with all local physicians.”
The radiology therapy office is located in front of the Rutherford Cancer Center, where medical oncologist Dr. Matt Rees sees cancer patients and where chemotherapy is administered.
Rogers also said 27 percent of the patients seen at the radiation therapy office are veterans.
Roberts told McHenry there is a cure for cancer through radiation therapy.
He said 50 percent of the people who walk into his office, walk out cancer-free after being treated.
He explained every organ in the body has its sensitivity to radiation, and doses are administered accordingly. There are some cancers difficult to treat with radiation.
“There have been enormous wonderful leaps in treatment cancer,” McHenry said.
“Radiation is improving and more raditation is given to the tumors and less on the body,” Roberts explained. “It’s precision.” He said many patients could be served without surgery, but surgery is required in others.
Some of his patients come into his office for spot radiation treatment to eliminate the pain.
“We can eliminate the cancer in that one spot,” he said. “We like to help our patients without hurting them.”
Roberts said cancer patients are a “sweet group of people looking for anyone who can help them.”
Roberts also explained some cancer patients can come into the office on their lunch break and continue working afterwards.
“We monitor the cancer, making sure it not not coming back,” Roberts said.
McHenry asked Roberts about the age factor regarding cancer screenings.
Roberts said some doctors suggest different times for screenings and treatment.
“It all comes down to the patient, who gets the final vote,” Roberts said.
While at Spindale school, McHenry heard the Spindale chorus which recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to perform during America Sings!
The chorus performed for McHenry and then asked him several questions about what it’s like being a congressman.
McHenry told the students they can always achieve their dreams if they work hard.
“Anything you want to do is going to be a challenge. Whatever the challenge you have, it’s OK. You have to keep trying, and you’ll get better,” McHenry said. “If you remember only one thing from meeting me today it’s this ... don’t be a dumb-dumb. Pay attention and make good decisions for yourself. If you try, you are going to do great.”
Staff writer Erin Kidd contributed to this article.