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ICS Welcomes Tami Sheldon, ARNP

Iowa Cancer Specialists is proud to announce the addition of Tami Sheldon, ARNP to our staff.

Tami is an undergraduate of Illinois State University with a degree in Exercise Science and Fitness.  She did undergraduate work at Chamberlain University of Cincinnati graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  Tami also has a Master’s degree in Nursing from the University of Cincinnati and is a board certified nurse practitioner.

Tami always knew she wanted to be involved in medicine, but it wasn’t until after she received her degree in Exercise Science and Fitness that her interests directed toward nursing.  She has expertise in labor and OB/GYN, and she served on the Open Heart Team  at Trinity Medical Center.  Recently, she worked in pain management intervention, but says her passion has always been for women’s health.

Being more than just another health care worker is important to Tami.  She states she is excited about her new position at ICS as it will give her an opportunity to connect with patients while providing both educational and emotional support.  ICS plans to primarily utilize Tami’s training in OB/GYN health with our ovarian cancer patients, and as a liaison between ICS and the University of Iowa Gyn/Onc department.

Tami was raised in the Quad City area.  She enjoys watching the Chicago Cubs and the Bears with her Navy Veteran husband, Josh.  She has two small children and a greater Swiss mountain dog named Gunner.

Be sure to stop in to Iowa Cancer Specialists to meet Tami.  She looks forward to serving  your health care needs.


Dr. Linda Jager Joins ICS

Iowa Cancer Specialists is happy to welcome Dr. Linda Jager to our team!

Dr. Jager is a graduate of the Indiana School of Medicine.  Her diverse medical background in family medicine, wound care, emergency room care, pathology, functional and palliative care is  an asset at Iowa Cancer Specialists.

At ICS, Dr. Jager will primarily be working with our patients who need palliative/supportive care.  Dr. Jager knows this field well as she formerly was the Palliative Care Director for Genesis Family Medical Center.  Palliative care is for patients who have a chronic illness and to help them manage their pain, symptoms, as well as help improve their quality of life.  Palliative care also helps with advanced care planning and supports patients and families as they face a life changing disease.

Dr. Jager will also use her experience in functional medicine with her patients at ICS.  Functional care is an individualized, science-based approach that addresses the root cause of disease.  It leverages the patient’s genetics, lifestyle, and biochemical components to personalize treatment plans including  lifestyle modifications, stress reduction, and dietary changes to promote optimal wellness.  According to Dr. Jager “watching the body heal is phenomenal.”

In addition, Dr. Jager intends to utilize her skills as a medical educator derived from teaching at Mary Crest College and St. Ambrose University while working with her patients at ICS.  She states that education and teaching is her passion and it is important to her that “patients be heard, and that the truth be spoken. ”

Dr. Jager is originally from Pennsylvania, but has lived in Louisiana and Indiana before settling in the Quad City Area.  She has three children, a daughter and two sons, and enjoys gardening, and playing tennis.  She also loves hiking and spending time in the woods.  A woman of faith, one of her core beliefs is that “you should live to use the gifts God has given you to serve others.”

Dr. Jager is enthusiastic to live out this belief while serving her patients at Iowa Cancer Specialists.


Exciting Changes

We are thrilled to let you know that Iowa Cancer Specialists is moving, and we will be ready to announce our new location soon!

Even though we will have a new office, be assured some things will not change:

  • Same friendly nursing and reception staff that you have come to know and trust.
  • Same knowledgeable in-house billing team.
  • Same convenient medical dispensary.
  • Continued compassionate care by the physician team of Susannah Friemel, MD and Katie Browne, NP-C

We are also welcoming new staff members:

  • Dr. Linda Jager, specializing in palliative care management.
  • Tami Sheldon, NP, specializing in pain management and ovarian cancer.

We look forward to providing you with the same quality care you have come to expect from ICS.


September: Ovarian and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, part 2

Along with ovarian cancer awareness month, September is also prostate cancer awareness month.  Prostate cancer is a very common cancer that affects the male sex gland which produces seminal fluid and transports the sperm.

Statistics:  It is expected that one in nine men will have a prostate cancer diagnosis during his lifetime.  It is the second leading cause of death in men after lung cancer.  Although it is considered a common cancer, most men with a prostate cancer diagnosis do not die from it and almost three million men in the United States with prostate cancer are still alive.

Who is at risk?  Prostate cancer usually affects older men with age 66 being the average age for a diagnosis.  It is rare for a man to have prostate cancer under the age of 40, but it does happen.  A man’s risk increases rapidly after age 50.

African-American men are also at higher risk as well as men from the Caribbean.

There may be a genetic link to prostate cancer, as it does run in families–especially brothers.  However, family history does not always to play a part.

Also, obese men are more at risk as obese men sometimes have more advanced disease which is harder to treat.

Symptoms:  Typically, prostate cancer has no symptoms in its early stages.  In later stages a man may notice:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Decreased urine stream
  • Pain in pelvis
  • Bone pain
  • Blood in semen
  • Erectile dysfunction

Possible treatment options include:

  • Surveillance
  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Brachytherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery

How to prevent:  There is no sure-fire way to prevent prostate cancer, but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk.

  • Eat a healthy diet consisting of lots of fruit and vegetables.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

As always, talk to your doctor about your risk–especially if you notice any of the above symptoms or have any questions or concerns.

For more information:




September: Ovarian and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, part 1.

September is ovarian cancer and prostate cancer awareness month.  Today we are focusing on the ladies.

A woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 78, and her lifetime chance of dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 108.  Ovarian cancer is the number one cause of  death due gynecologic cancers of the female reproductive system.  According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 14,240 women in the United States will die of ovarian cancer this year, a number which has not changed much over the last 50 years and is why early detection is so important.

Unfortunately, there is no accurate screening test for ovarian cancer.  Only rarely does a Pap smear detect ovarian cancer.  Women should have rectal and vaginal pelvic exams every year.

Some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

  • Lack of appetite due to becoming full quickly
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Back pain
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Menstrual changes
  • Fatigue
  • Heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Frequent need to urinate

If  any of the above symptoms persist daily for two weeks, consult your doctor.

Ovarian cancer does have some risk factors which your should discuss with your doctor. These include:

  • Age. Ovarian cancer is most common in women ages 50 to 63 years, but can occur at any age.
  • Family history of ovarian cancer.
  • Inherited gene mutations known as BRCA1 AND BRCA2 along with Lynch syndrome increases risk.
  • History of hormone replacement therapy.
  • Early age or late age of onset of menstruation

If ovarian cancer is suspected, imaging and blood testing will be performed.  However, the only way to definitively diagnose ovarian cancer is with a biopsy.  Again, if you have any of the above symptoms or are at risk for ovarian cancer, see your doctor right away.

For more information:

Is a Clinical Trial Right for You?

Iowa Cancer Specialists is committed to bringing our patients the best treatment options possible.  This is why we partner with the Genesis Health System to offer many clinical trials available for patients in our community.  Through Genesis, ICS has access to approximately 25 clinical trials offered locally.

Clinical trial are studies designed by researchers to offer new ways to either treat cancer, find and diagnose cancer, prevent cancer, and/or manage the symptoms and side effects of treatment.

Before a trial is offered to patients  researchers spend years in the laboratory evaluating the trial at the cellular level and on laboratory animals.

Patients on clinical trials help researchers determine the safe dosage of treatment, record side effects,  and evaluate how the trial compares to current forms of treatment.

ICS has the support of  Genesis with research nurse Kim Turner, RN MSN to make sure all trials are approved and monitored by the Genesis Health System Institutional Review Board (IRB) as there are many guidelines to follow.  These study guidelines are called protocols.  The protocol dictates who is eligible for the study, how often drugs and treatment are to be given,  and how often tests like laboratory workup and imaging need to be performed.

As mentioned, each clinical trial’s protocol directs who can participate. The criteria often includes, but is not limited to–

  • the type and stage of the patient’s cancer,
  • patient’s age group
  • patient’s genetic history,
  • patient’s health status.

Like all treatments, there is a cost involved.  Hopefully insurances will cover the patient care costs which include doctor visits, standard cancer treatment, drugs to reduce side effects, and laboratory and imaging studies.

However, often with a study extra doctor visits along with extra laboratory and imaging workup is required to evaluate the study’s efficacy.  These costs may be paid for by the sponsor of the study.

A patient is never enrolled in a study without their knowledge.  Patient rights are protected and each patient must sign an informed consent.  If you are considering taking part in a clinical trial,  we encourage you to ask questions such as–

  • What is the purpose of the study?
  • What are the goals?
  • What are the potential risks and side effects?
  • How long will be I be on the study?
  • What is the protocol?
  • What costs am I responsible for?
  • Whatever questions and concerns you may have.

If there is not a trial available to you locally and you wish to explore this option, a search can be done for treatment elsewhere.

By choosing to take part in a clinical trial, you are taking an active part in your treatment which may, in effect, help others in their cancer journey.

However, a trial is a trial–it is not a guarantee that the treatment is better than the current standard of care.  But, it may be better than the standard of care.  As with any type of treatment, some treatments that are effective with one person may not be effective for another.

And please know,  you may leave the study at any time.

Before you agree to a study, research all your treatment options.  An informed patient is a powerful one.

Your First Visit

It’s natural to feel apprehensive on your first visit to an oncologist’s office. We at Iowa Cancer Specialists would like to ease your anxiety and let you know what you can expect.

We are located at Genesis West Medical Center inside the Cancer Center which is just off of the glass atrium.  When you walk through the Cancer Center entry, go to the reception desk on the left side of the room where you will be greeted by one of our friendly receptionists.  Our office should have sent you forms to be filled out in advance, and this is the time to turn them in.  If you forgot to bring the forms, please plan a few extra minutes as you will be asked to fill them out again.  Also, have your insurance cards ready as well as your co-pay.  You will be asked to sign other forms that give us permission to bill your insurance and information on the patient information and privacy act. We strive to keep patient wait time to a minimum.  But, while you do wait, help yourself to the coffee, tea, or water provided in the waiting area.

When the nurse or medical assistant calls your name, you will be ushered into our exam room.  There she will have you step on and off the scale and will take your vitals.  She will ask you questions regarding the reason for your visit, habits you many have, any concerns or current health problems, and family history.

When you see the doctor, he/she will ask you more questions.  Sometimes a full physical exam is required; sometimes not—depending on the diagnosis.   Your referring physician should have sent us your records for our review.  Our doctors will go over this information with you.  We recommend you have a family member or friend with you to help you digest the information covered, as well as as notebook to write down instructions.  Be sure to ask your questions.  We want you to leave our office with all of your questions answered.

Treatment varies from individual to individual.   Of course, you may request a second opinion at any time, and we will be happy to assist you in scheduling one.

Expect our physicians to order lab work.  This is important, especially if chemotherapy is recommended.  Also, CT scans may be ordered.  These are necessary and used to evaluate how well the treatment is working.

Our physicians may order other tests as well.  This is because not all cancers are the same, nor do they respond the same way to treatment.  It is important for us to gather as much information to determine how to best treat you.

For your convenience, we have a lab in our office if blood work is ordered. Also, we have an in-clinic dispensary to assist in filling your prescriptions.

We will keep your referring physician updated on your progress.  We are always available to answer any questions.

Having a cancer diagnosis is stressful enough.  Our goal is to make this journey as easy as possible.


How did some nurses get to be where they are today?

Ever wonder how the Iowa Cancer Specialists nurses got to be where they are today? We sat down with three of our nurses and asked them why they wanted to be a nurse.

We spoke with Molly Rima, Amber Claussen and our nurse practitioner Katie Browne about what made them want to become nurses.

Molly Rima

Why did you want to become a nurse?

When I was a little girl my grandmother, she took care of me, I didn’t go to preschool or anything and went to her house before Kindergarten.

She was a nurse and was in pediatrics and cardiology and she taught me all the bones in the body before I went to school so that is where it all started and I never wavered. I always wanted to be a nurse since I was four or five years old.

So what was it about your grandmother that made you want to be a nurse?

Everyone always talked about how good she was at her job and how compassionate she was about it and how much she loved her patients. I kind of see that in myself with her, I feel like I’m a very compassionate person and care about people a lot and I think that is a trait you really have to have as a nurse.

Where there any differences in your expectations when you became a nurse?

When you get into nursing school you kind of doubt yourself and wonder if you’re cut out for this. I was signed up to go to the University of Iowa and found out they didn’t do their internships until a year into their program. I was kind of a homebody and I looked into Scott (Community College) and they offered clinicals within the first eight weeks. At that point I was thinking ‘I think I want to be a nurse but I’ve never been in that setting before’ so for me there was no better way than being hands on to know if I really want this.

My first rotation was in a nursing home and I wasn’t sure if I wanted it but as I continued on I realized it was a good fit.

What do you know now that you would tell yourself then?

It’s a learning process, every day you’re learning something new, so if you’re not open to that you’re not in the right profession. I’ve been in this job for 13 years and I learn something new every single day I’m here — drugs are changing, treatment is changing, diseases are becoming more chronic versus acute and people are living longer. You have to know a lot and if you’re not willing to do that it is not the profession for you.


Amber Claussen

Why did you become a nurse?

I wanted to become a nurse since I was in 2nd grade.

What happened in 2nd grade?

I had an aunt that was a nurse and she kind of inspired me to be a nurse.

What was it about her that you looked up to?

All my aunts and uncles are close to us so I saw just saw what she was doing and liked it.

Why have you continued to want to be a nurse?

Because I love taking care of my patients. It gives you a sense of well being, they make you feel good for things you do for them and you try and help them. Especially with our cancer patients you try and help them try and have the best experience in a bad situation.

What would Amber now tell Amber in 2nd grade that wanted to become a nurse?

Good job, you picked the right thing. I wouldn’t change being a nurse ever, especially an oncology nurse. It makes me teary-eyed thinking about it.


Katie Browne

Why did you want to become a nurse?

I actually wanted to be an OB nurse, I had my son early in life. I had a seizure and I was in ICU for like a week and I almost died. The nurses were so nice to me and I didn’t want to be a nurse before that.

When I heard people say they wanted to be a nurse I would think ‘why would you ever want to do that?’ Because I thought all they did was hand doctors scissors. All through high school that was my impression and thought it was the stupidest thing.

But (the nurses there) really helped me a lot because I couldn’t take care of my baby so I felt horrible but the nurses there were really comforting. So I went to school and wanted to be an OB nurse with the goal of being a midwife and I started nursing school. I started as a nursing assistant and they said you can work on cardiology or oncology. At that point I really didn’t even know but oncology sounded more interesting than cardiology and then I started on the oncology unit when I was 19 and I just stayed in oncology ever since.

You can really make a big impact in people’s lives so that is what I like. I wouldn’t change anything (about becoming a nurse practitioner.)

So it was that experience in the hospital and seeing the nurses?

Yes, they were comforting me. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t take care of my baby and they were just letting me know it was okay. They just gave me hope that I would be able to and they just made me feel better about the whole thing. My family was very supportive too but having them there to let me know things were going to be okay and that I didn’t do anything wrong. It was pretty profound.

So it changed you?

Yes, it definitely did.

Anything else?

That’s really what did it, I still love pregnant people and stuff like that too but I never wanted to leave oncology either. You develop deep connections with people and they teach you a lot. You just build really close relationships and it changes your whole perspective on how you view your own life and what is important.


Cancer News Roundup

Welcome to the June cancer news roundup, we’ve got everything from new studies to profiles of some pretty awesome people. So grab your readers if you need ‘em and let’s get going.

A special visit

Luke Eck, a two-year-old with clear cell sarcoma of the kidney, has been undergoing chemotherapy for awhile now and during treatment one of his favorite pastimes is watching the firetrucks pass by.

So some of the staff at the office noticed his obsession with the trucks and reached out to the local fire department. From there they were able to surprise him and let him see a fire truck up close and personal.

Fighting until the end

An Iowa teen’s story is picking up national attention after she fought and completed her goal of graduating high school after her diagnosis.  Allison Cress graduated from Dubuque Hempstead High School on June 3 and passed away on June 5.

According to her obituary, “Allison brought a smile to your face and always kept a positive attitude during her fight with cancer. She was able to have a “Make A Wish” trip to Paris and London.”

Pup with a list

A cancer diagnosis can cause some to take a hard look at their life and break out a bucket list, and while this guy wasn’t the one writing the list he was the one taking part in some pretty cool stuff.

This golden pooch named Mr. Molson has been checking things off including being a police officer for a day and even getting married.

Have you or a family member with a cancer diagnosis done anything bucket list worthy recently? Let us know in the comments.

Three-time survivor

While at a camp for children with cancer and their siblings Joey Renick met someone who eventually would become his wife. This story from People magazine highlights the story of Joey and Caylee and how after three battles with cancer they finally tied the knot.

“I knew he was the one, because being in the hospital with him for so long and seeing him sick, I thought to myself, ‘If I can do this for him and we’re only dating, I can do this forever,’ ” says Caylee. “He inspires me so much, despite everything he’s been through he looks at the bright side of life and his will to live and survive and do more with his life is so strong.”

Check out the full story to see the inspirational couple.

Summer is here!

Now with the heat index climbing about 100 degrees and the sun shining brightly we’ll leave you with some tips from the American Cancer Society on skin cancer prevention and early detection.

Some simple tips from the ACS include using the phrase “slip slop slap and wrap” meaning four quick things.

  • Slip on a shirt.
  • Slop on sunscreen.
  • Slap on a hat.
  • Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and skin around them.