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Cancer care experience at UK’s Markey Center changes occupational mindset

Markey NCI Comprehensive Designation Announcement 09-15-23
Stu Johnson
Markey NCI Comprehensive Designation Announcement 09-15-23

The impact of cancer care can be seen in a variety of ways. Sometimes it changes one’s whole approach to a future vocation.

The student ballroom at the University of Kentucky was packed Friday when the formal announcement came; UK’s Markey Cancer Center now carries a National Cancer Institute “Comprehensive” designation. One of those with a personal story is Anna Cox. A 2017 UK grad in math economics, everything changed with a stage four blood cancer diagnosis less than two years later. Her care at Markey now has her in medical school. But Cox isn’t sure if she’ll pursue a career related to Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

“I could do hematology, blood cancers, but other cancers make me emotional because I feel like I had, quote, an easy time with chemo…and I see a lot of other patients who are struggling a lot more than I did and it really pulls at my heartstrings and so I’m kind of on the fence,” said Cox.

Cox has been cancer-free for five years and is in her third year of med school at UK’s College of Medicine Bowling Green campus.

Dr. Mark Evers has been the director at the Markey Cancer Center since 2009. It became an NCI center in 2013 and is now one of only 56 Comprehensive Care Centers. Evers said this new title will bring with it more grant funding, more clinical trials, and more highly sought-after researchers.

“As we continue to grow, we will bring on additional faculty and that’s a great thing about comprehensiveness as well because you’re really competing with places across the country for top-level talent and that pool is so limited, but being a comprehensive center means a lot to folks who are in oncology.”

Evers said while there was an outmigration for cancer care nearly 15 years ago, more and more patients can get their care in Kentucky today. And the cancer center director noted it will not always be at the Markey Center in Lexington, but at affiliate sites. Evers is also excited about a new all-encompassing cancer care center in Lexington, scheduled to open in 2027.

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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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