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New MCG Cancer Center offers hope and healing

News 12 at 6 o'clock, February 5, 2010

AUGUSTA --- The new MCG Cancer Center is officially open. The ribbon was cut Friday on the $31 million treatment facility, which is expected to revolutionize cancer treatment in Augusta by providing many different services in one building.

MCG describes the center as being designed by patients, for patients. And for the families who spend most of their time there, they say that care definitely shows.

It's been eight years since Mr. Descombe Gray was diagnosed with prostate cancer. But he and his close friend Elouise remember it like it was yesterday.

"Well, it was a shock in a way," says Mr. Gray.

"Devastating. Devastating," recalls Elouise on hearing the news. "It was very, very hard for me. I didn't think I could do it; I was trying to be strong for Mr. Gray."

Elouise has been with him every step of the way. And with the opening of MCG's new cancer center, it will be easier for Mr. Gray and patients like him to get the treatment they need.

The best part? All aspects of cancer treatment will be available under one roof.

"It's great because it makes it a lot easier to take care of the patients because we've got everything in one place," says Steve Black, administrative director for the center. "That's the great thing about this building. We've got the exam space, the chemotherapy space, the supportive therapies, we've got all these resources in the building."

Patients can also receive surgery, chemotherapy and lab results here, and even consult with a plastic surgeon.

MCG's interim president says the center is focused on treating the mind, body and spirit. And with 30 chemotherapy stations facing out to a rooftop garden, plus a chapel, coffee bar and even a boutique on the way, Mr. Gray says it doesn't feel like a hospital at all.

"It actually makes you want to come back for more," he laughs.

Upon walking in to the building, you would immediately notice the bright atmosphere. The opening atrium is filled with windows allowing light to stream in. And with paintings from local artists decorating every hallway, it's clear the new center is as much about hope as it is about healing.

"Oh sure! I'm very hopeful," says Mr. Gray. "Some places you dread going into, but this gives you hope."

Molly McDowell is in charge of the building's art and says it plays a role in patients' healing.

"They get to look at beautiful things and reflect on them, and it takes them away from dealing so much with the cancer," says McDowell.

"It makes it better when you can just look outside and see life," adds Elouise. "You appreciate life more. It intensifies hope."

Friday was the center's grand opening, but the doors actually opened back in January, so patients have been treated there for more than a month now.

As for the paintings, they are all created by local artists. It's part of MCG's push to use art for healing, while showcasing some local talent.

MCG expects the center to draw patients from all over Georgia and South Carolina.

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