Patients leave their mark on Upstate Cancer Center

Feb 6, 2013

Some central New York cancer patients have signed their name to the new Upstate Cancer Center being to built next to University Hospital in Syracuse.

Cancer patients of all ages this week were able to sign their names on a the last beam that will become part of the new Upstate Cancer Center next year. Center Medical Director Leslie Kohman says as construction continues on the $74 million outpatient cancer center, that was one way to get current cancer patients involved.

"The care they've received here will be continued in the new building. It's acknowledging that the world class care we already give here will be transferred to the new building," said Kohman.

The beam and signatures, will be able to be seen from the roof. Lynn Conroy, who's been battling breast cancer for six years, was happy to grab a sharpie and add her name to a center that keeps more cancer patients near home.

Marrah Smith, 6, a cancer patient, signing a beam in the new Upstate Cancer Center.
Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO

"So you don't have to go to other places. So you don't have to travel to Buffalo, taking time and money, and maybe somebody has to go with you, and your husband and wife have to work. Going to New York City is the same thing. You won't have to go anywhere, everything is right here," said Conroy.

Also signing the beam was Karen Harnett, whose son is a pediatric brain tumor survivor, and has been coming to Upstate Medical University for more than 20 years.  

"I would have loved to have had it [the center] around in 1991. When we first started coming here back then, we didn't know which hospital we were going to be in, til they found a bed," she said.

The 600-pound beam, which is 23-feet long, will be installed at the top of the five-story building next week. The center, which will bring cancer services under one roof,  is expected to open in spring of next year.