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Women Making a Difference at OMC’s Cancer Treatment Center

Women are making a difference at Ozarks Medical Center’s Cancer Treatment Center. And not to say that the men aren’t important, too, but the staff of this department is predominately women. They are a close-knit family who experience a wide-range of emotions on a daily basis. Not everyone is cut out for this type of work, but these women truly love what they do. They love their patients and the families that they get to know so well during treatment. And through their compassion, knowledge, and hope for all those who visit the Cancer Treatment Center, the lives that they touch are truly blessed.

Dr. Liana Makarian

When Dr. Liana Makarian, oncologist at Ozarks Medical Center, moved to West Plains four years ago with her husband and two children, she had experienced the emotions and hope of working in a national cancer center. But it wasn’t until she became a part of our tight-knit community that she fully felt the type of love and hope that West Plains has to offer.

Focusing on quality of life during treatment is a passion of Dr. Makarian’s. "I want my patients to continue living their lives as normally as possible while they are getting treatment." She truly cares about each and every one of her patients.

When asked if she had one special story to share, she said, "Not just one. It is every day. I have millions of special stories. Every day has so many special stories. There are always tears of joy and tears of sadness."

She is honored to work with such an exceptional staff. "There really is a lot of love here. We treat everyone the same. We always give the best quality of care, the best standard of care to everyone."

Dr. Makarian pointed out that the prevalence of cancer is as high as cardiovascular disease. "Cancer is a silent killer. If you don’t look for it or do other things to prevent it, the inevitable can happen." She explained that the medical community is getting better with diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, but there is still a ways to go. "We need more education. Women need to make sure to have the tests that are suggested: mammograms, pap smears, and monthly breast self-exams. They also need to have their daughters get the HPV vaccine."

Ruby Russell, RN

A few years ago, Ruby Russell, RN at OMC’s Cancer Treatment Center, saw the need to celebrate. Maybe it was a patient’s birthday or anniversary, their last chemo treatment, or the yearly anniversary of their remission. Either way, one really needs a cake or it isn’t much of a celebration. So Ruby began running to the OMC Cafeteria to get a cake for these special events. And the more they celebrated, the more they saw cause for celebration until she just decided to bake these cakes herself.

Today, Ruby and coworker Lori Cole bake cakes. They do this on their own time and with their own money. Strawberry, spice, red velvet, pineapple upside-down, devil’s food, walnut, are waiting in the freezer in the employee break room at OMC’s Cancer Treatment Center.

"All the staff loves celebrating these milestones with our patients. Baking the cakes at home and always having one ready for a special occasion just seemed like the thing to do," Ruby commented.

She remembers one of her patients who absolutely loved her coconut cake. "Seemed like he always got a coconut cake, just about on every visit. He has since passed away. I saw his wife not too long ago and gave her a hug. I asked her if she needed a coconut cake for old time’s sake. And she said she sure did."

Note: This article was featured in the May 2015 Gift Horse Magazine, a publication of The Horsetrader.

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