No Place Like Home

Posted on June 17, 2022

New Linear Accelerator at Thompson Cancer-Sevier Brings Cutting-Edge Treatment to Local Cancer Patients

Jamesena Miller
Jamesena Miller had excellent treatment at Thompson Cancer Survival Center – Sevier, thanks to leading technology and excellence in patient care.

The tumor was discovered by pure coincidence. When Jamesena Miller underwent a CT scan in October 2021 to follow up on a lung procedure, her surgeon noticed a spot in her left breast that he recommended checking. After Miller underwent a lumpectomy to remove an aggressive form of cancer in November, chemotherapy was recommended. That was followed by a recommendation for radiation therapy.

Miller found out that a new and highly anticipated linear accelerator for radiation therapy had been installed at Thompson Cancer Survival Center – Sevier on the LeConte Medical Center campus. Under the supervision of radiation oncologist Natasha Townsend, MD, Miller began receiving treatment without leaving town. “Here in Sevierville I was on the road maybe five to ten minutes at the most, depending on traffic,” she says. “I would be back home in 45 minutes.”

Thompson is the only cancer program that offers radiation therapy in Sevierville. The new linear accelerator makes cutting edge treatment more accessible to cancer patients like Miller who live outside Knoxville.

“ There was no pain. I didn’t even realize I was being treated,” Miller says. “The machine moved around my body, then it would stop and do what it was supposed to do.”

Excellence in Radiation Therapy

Chief medical physicist Chester Ramsey, PhD, says linear accelerator treatments have been available at Thompson Cancer Survival Center – Sevier since 2009, but the new system is more precise and sophisticated. “It allows for precision shaping of the beam to the treatment area with 33 percent more resolution than any other systems in the region,” Dr. Ramsey says. “3D and 4D technology provides image guidance to pinpoint tumors with more precise accuracy than ever before.” The “six degrees of freedom” couch, where patients are positioned for treatment, can make extremely specific adjustments, exactly aligning the target area with the radiation beams.

Marsha Lamb, RT (R)(T), lead radiation therapist, says the new linear accelerator is also capable of delivering radiation faster than ever before. “The biggest factor that we have noticed so far is the efficiency of the new linear accelerator and its ability to deliver planned treatments faster,” Lamb says. “Time is a precious commodity for our patients and staff, and this results in a more satisfying patient experience.”

A Big Win

Getting the best treatment possible and getting it close to home was a big win in Miller’s fight against cancer. “I would double recommend it. LeConte is the place to go!” Miller says. A woman of faith, Miller credits God for her recovery and counts it a blessing to have been diagnosed when she was, to receive excellent treatment at Thompson Cancer Survival Center – Sevier, and to be treated so well by the people who cared for her. “I’m doing great, and I just consider it God’s will,” Miller says. “God orders your steps, and you’ve just gotta walk in them.”