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Beating Cancer is a Team Effort


July 07, 2021 Posted in: Health & Wellness , Patients & Providers , Cancer Care

Barbara Ermers witnessed her son get married and now enjoys holding her grandbaby - two things she never thought possible after a terminal cancer diagnosis in 2016.

Barbara began her cancer journey in 2014. She had a mole removed and moved on with life. But in 2016, when Barbara was 53, she began feeling achy, so she went back to the doctor and was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic melanoma. She was only given a few months to live.

But the diagnosis was no match for Barbara's determination coupled with the prowess and compassion of CHI Saint Joseph Health - Cancer Care doctors. Within 30 minutes upon discovering her cancer, Barbara began treatment.

Dr. [Jessica] Croley went right into action,” recalled Barbara. “She got me every test I needed. She got me the results right away, and she coordinated with me to get into a clinical trial. She’s willing to do anything for you. The cancer was growing so quickly that I decided to get treated at Saint Joseph. Dr. Croley already had a plan in place and started immediately.”

Barbara, who called Dr. Croley her “rock star,” was put on a cutting-edge combination of immunotherapy treatments, and Dr. Croley also utilized high-tech genomics research and various treatments specific to Barbara’s DNA.

“We were able to get high-tech treatment and guidance right away,” said Gary Ermers, Barbara’s husband, who is CHI Saint Joseph Health’s market director of business development.

Back on Track and Grateful

After three months of treatment, including radiation, Barbara’s cancer shrunk. Then, she successfully worked with colorectal surgeons at Saint Joseph Hospital to deal with the cancer treatment’s impact on her colon. Gary noted the remarkable collaboration between her cancer and colorectal teams, calling Dr. Croley the “quarterback.” He added, “God, through Dr. Croley, saved Barb’s life.”

Barbara also noted the philanthropy-funded comfort care tote bag filled with hand-picked items, which helped get her through treatments. She also appreciated the new pharmacy at the CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center, which allowed them to quickly retrieve medications and speak directly with the pharmacist rather than driving to Saint Joseph Hospital.

“It’s small in the scheme of things, but the impact was priceless,” Barbara said.

Gary points out that all patients at CHI Saint Joseph Health can expect this type of care. Patients also have access to leading national specialists thanks to the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center affiliation. Starting at the end of May, the affiliation expanded to CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Centers in Bardstown, Corbin, London and Mount Sterling.

The CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations’ Evening of Hope event on May 15 raised critical funding to ensure that physicians have all the tools they need and that every patient has access to world class care.

The CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations are blessed by donors who understand this mission and participated in the Evening of Hope, so more patients can experience the best care possible in a compassionate environment.

This story originally appeared in our Spring 2021 print edition of Spirit of Health magazine. 

Barbara and Gary Ermers

Barbara and Gary Ermers


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