The Cancer Journey Connection: The Park Ridge Health Cancer Services Difference

Raymond Thertulien, MD

Breast Cancer doesn’t play favorites. It rears its ugly head in the lives of women both young and old. It is a disease that attacks not only the person who discovers the tumor in her body, but also every person in that patient’s life.

That is why Park Ridge Health Cancer Services acts quickly to connect each patient to an entire team who will support her and the people she loves through the cancer journey.

One of the most important goals of the Park Ridge Health Cancer Services care team is to provide whole- person care. From the moment the diagnosis is confirmed, a Park Ridge Health certified oncology nurse navigator reaches out to her. That nurse becomes the patient’s advocate, connecting her to a board-certified medical oncologist, scheduling the appropriate appointments, answering questions and much more. One patient describes her nurse navigator as the glue that held everything together, even making the extra effort to be there to hold her hand through a biopsy. “She never let go. I will never forget it.” – Park Ridge Health Breast Cancer Patient.

These cancer journeys lead to unique relationships. One of the most important is the connection between the patient and her physician. “When I meet a potential patient, it is important for me to establish trust,” said Raymond Thertulien, MD, PhD, Asheville Hematology & Oncology, a Service of Park Ridge Health. “I want the patient to know that I am working for her. I make sure she understands the nature of her disease. Despite the complex nature or biology of cancers, it is still true that an informed patient is a better patient; a patient with whom you can partner to provide the best care for them.”

Sometimes the tables are turned, and the patient becomes the one to inspire the physician. Dr. Thertulien shares his experience with one woman who let him know from the beginning that she was going to beat cancer and she was trusting him to help her win this battle. “From our first meeting, I could see it in her eyes – she was courageous and she was trusting me with her life. There was no doubt that she would do whatever it takes to go through this journey. That kind of trust and mentality infused me with confidence. In fact, her attitude motivated the entire care team.”

The Park Ridge Health Breast Center team includes a registered dietitian who provides nutritional counseling, discussing side effects of treatment; patient and family education; and support groups. They even provide free wigs, prostheses and headwear. A certified oncology social worker connects with patients and their support groups, which includes her family and friends. Throughout the journey, the Park Ridge Health Cancer Services care team is there with information about the care plan, the financial impact and options, and most importantly, the emotional and spiritual support for each woman, along with her family and friends on this cancer journey.

Park Ridge Health Cancer Services is accredited by The American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer with a team of multidisciplinary Medical and Radiation Oncologists and board-certified surgeons, as well as, hospital-based specialists and subspecialists caring for patients throughout Western North Carolina. This specialized team’s focus on prevention and early detection continues to increase survival rates and improve quality of life for our patients.

You can learn more about Park Ridge Health Cancer Services by visiting or calling 855.PRH.LIFE (855.774-5344).

About Shelby Harrell
Shelby Harrell is the editor of the Biltmore Beacon, editor of The Guide arts and entertainment publication and is a staff writer for Mountaineer Publishing. Originally from Asheville, she has worked in journalism for seven years and currently lives in Clyde, NC.