BRISTOL – What is represented by the new name of Bristol Regional Medical Center’s cancer center? All the love, compassion and hope J.D. and Lorraine Nicewonder have for the people of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

Because their generosity is saving countless lives, the cancer center at Bristol Regional has been named for the Bristol couple. The J.D. and Lorraine Nicewonder Cancer Center was dedicated Thursday during a ceremony at the hospital.

The Nicewonders since 2003 have donated $3.5 million to Bristol Regional. Their support enabled the hospital to become one of the first in the nation to acquire a CyberKnife Stereotactic Radiosurgery System.

Housed in the hospital’s expanded cancer center, the CyberKnife utilizes state-of-the-art technology to treat life-threatening tumors that might otherwise be inoperable. Treatment is non-invasive and is usually completed on an outpatient basis.

“The Nicewonders’ generous gift has placed Bristol Regional Medical Center among a field of elite players in healthcare technology and has helped make our cancer center one of the most comprehensive in the nation,” said Bart Hove, the hospital’s president. “To show our gratitude for their kindness, we are pleased to bestow their names on this cancer center. Many lives are being saved thanks to their heartfelt contribution.”

Bristol Regional is one of just 26 hospitals nationwide to offer the innovative CyberKnife system, joining such institutions as Stanford University Medical Center and Georgetown University Hospital on the leading edge of medicine.

“As one of a handful of hospitals around the country offering the CyberKnife technology, Bristol Regional has positioned itself as a national leader in cancer care,” said Dr. Richard Salluzzo, Wellmont Health System’s president and chief executive officer. “We are committed to staying on the cutting edge of medicine. People like the Nicewonders and technology like the

CyberKnife allow our healthcare professionals to meet that goal and provide hope to thousands of men and women across our region.”

Added Dave Crockett, chairman of the Bristol Regional board of directors, “The Nicewonders’ giving spirit, along with the passion and commitment of our outstanding medical staff, provides the best in cancer care to the people of our region.”

The CyberKnife system became operational in July 2004. Since then, 123 patients have received treatment. When the CyberKnife was installed, Bristol Regional officials anticipated 75 patients would be treated in the first year.

“Clearly, the program has far exceeded first-year expectations, and referrals to the program continue,” Hove said.

Elizabeth Taylor of Church Hill is one of the many patients who have benefited from CyberKnife treatment. Using the CyberKnife, physicians were able to correct a nerve disorder that caused Taylor severe facial pain and made it nearly impossible for her to talk, eat, apply makeup or brush her teeth.

“ I couldn’t wait to get up there and get treated, because I had so much hope this would work,” said Taylor, who is now pain-free. “I felt nothing, and it certainly was wonderful.”


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