All-Inclusive Cancer Care Center Coming to Lafayette

New center will make patient-centered cancer care easier and more convenient for Tippecanoe County residents

Franciscan Health is taking cancer care to a whole new level for residents of Tippecanoe County and beyond. In September, Terry Wilson, Franciscan Health Western Indiana president and CEO, announced a $43.2 million project to create the Franciscan Health Cancer Center Lafayette.

The new center will consolidate and expand existing cancer services together into one all-inclusive facility located on the Franciscan Health Lafayette East campus. To support this initiative, the Franciscan Health Foundation launched a $3.2 million community campaign to raise funds for the facility. 

“We’re going to create a space where patients have the treatment team and all the resources they need right at their fingertips,” said Taylor Ortiz, MD, oncologist at Franciscan Physician Network Oncology and Hematology Specialists. “We’re offering excellent cancer care in Lafayette, but we want to make it the most convenient and comprehensive cancer care available in the area.”

Currently, Franciscan Health cancer providers and treatments are available over several different locations in Lafayette. 

“Someone may have to go to one place to see their radiation doctor, another place for labs or scans and another place for chemotherapy,” Dr. Ortiz said. “The new cancer center will mean patients won’t have to go from different offices and buildings to get their care and treatment.” 

A young mother finds lifesaving care in Lafayette

Alli Coleman, a 29-year-old mother of two from Ladoga, Indiana, knows first-hand what it’s like to go from location to location for a full menu of lifesaving cancer services and treatments. 

In March 2020, Alli, husband Kyler and their 2-year-old daughter Lanie welcomed new son and brother Hutson. Then in June, as they were finding their new family groove, a cancer diagnosis upended their lives. 

Six weeks earlier, Alli had discovered a suspicious lump in her breast. She and her lactation consultant thought it might be a complication of breastfeeding.

But Alli’s obstetrician/gynecologist suspected it was a cyst and referred Alli to Madelyn Lefranc, MD, at the Franciscan Health Lafayette East Diagnostic Breast Center. After an ultrasound, Dr. Lefranc, concerned about what she saw in such a young woman, fast-tracked a mammogram and biopsy. Alli had stage 3 breast cancer. 

Alli saw Dr. Ortiz, and within three weeks, she began what would be a year of aggressive treatment. 

“Dr. Ortiz is fantastic and so optimistic,” Alli said. “He changed the way I look at my diagnosis. He’s trained my brain to react to bad news with a plan of action instead of jumping into panic. That’s been tremendously helpful.” 

Alli admits her mindset took some hard hits. Her treatment was challenging. 

From June to October, Alli and her dad made the two-hour round-trip drive to Lafayette every three weeks for her day-long infusion of four hard-hitting chemotherapy medications. She struggled as the drugs played havoc on her body – hair loss, nausea and full-body joint pain. Many days she didn’t want to get out of bed. 

“Everything was so dark, but everyone told me I had a good attitude,” Alli said “It was really desperation. I knew I had to get through it. I had to be there for my babies.”

Along the way, Alli found support and friendships in other patients as well as her nurses. “Because of COVID, I saw the nurses more than family and friends,” Alli said. “We had our own little support group. They really went above and beyond.”

In November 2020, Alli had a double mastectomy, followed by 36 radiation treatments. Finally, she completed treatment with eight rounds of chemotherapy targeting any stray cancer cells. On June 3, Kyler and the kids joined Alli as she rang the bell, a tradition cancer patients celebrate to mark their last treatment.

Committed to caring for the community

Sandy Howarth, Franciscan Health Foundation executive director, says patients like Alli represent the need for a facility that makes the cancer journey easier. 

“Dealing with this disease is physically, psychologically and emotionally difficult for patients and families,” Howarth said. “Franciscan Health saw that need and believes it’s important enough to make comprehensive care at one location possible in our community. Going through a cancer journey will be easier with just one place to go.” 

Alli agrees. “When you’re going through cancer treatment, you’re in such a whirlwind, especially 

at first. It gets hard to remember things when you feel sick from the treatment. Having everything all in one building will be so much easier and less overwhelming.”

Dr. Ortiz can’t wait for the collaboration the new facility will bring. “When you can put doctors from all the specialties together in one place, it creates a whole new level of collaboration and communication,” he said. “The treatment team will be able to easily and quickly communicate about patients, such as knowing about changes that need to happen or when a patient needs care from another subspecialist. There will be easy access to specialists from all disciplines. This facility will be fantastic for patient care.” 

“Everyone has been touched in some way by cancer, either with their own diagnosis or a partner’s, child’s or someone they know,” said Howarth. 

When you support the Franciscan Health Cancer Center Lafayette with your financial gift, you make a lasting tribute to those you know who’ve been touched by cancer.