Mobile meals program a ‘lifesaver’ for Provision patient


Until a couple of years ago, Donna Lindsey was always the one taking care of others. Her husband, who has suffered numerous heart attacks. Her mother, who recently suffered from a stroke.

Then she got the diagnosis: breast cancer. And just eight months after undergoing a lumpectomy, it came back with a vengeance—invading both breasts plus her lymph nodes.

“I was never sick before this,” she says. (more…)

Provision’s “Caring Plate” receives $21,000 donation


A donation from that L5 Foundation will provide 3,500 meals for cancer patients and their families through the Provision CARES Foundation‘s Caring Plate program.

This week the foundation gave $21,000 to the initiative, which is operated through the Knoxville/Knox County Community Action Commitee‘s Mobile Meals program. Provision CARES launched the program with CAC in 2014 in order to provide patients with healthful, nutritious meals during their cancer treatment. Since then, the Caring Plate has suppled more than 5,600 meals to cancer patients and their families. Patients from the following medical centers qualify for the program: East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center, Provision Center for Proton Therapy, Provision Radiation Therapy, Tennessee Cancer Specialists and the University of Tennessee Cancer Institute.

“The Provision CARES Foundation is honored that the L5 Foundation believes in our unique partnership with CAC to make The Caring Plate program available to families battling cancer throughout our region,” said Provision CARES Foundation Executive Director Les Fout. “The Caring Plate would not be possible without the L5 Foundation and other generous donors who want to make cancer patients cancer survivors.”

The Provision CARES program helps provide a needed service to the community, said Susan Long, director of CAC’s Office on Aging.

“Working with The Caring Plate just seemed like a natural fit,” she said. “It has always been our goal to grow the Mobile Meals program to serve more people of all ages and needs in our community who need nutritious meals to stay healthy and independent in their homes. Preparing meals for and delivering them to the homes of cancer patients just seemed like an obvious next step, and we were thrilled when Provision CARES brought the idea to us. We are happy to see the program taking off like it has and serving more people throughout Knox and surrounding counties who are fighting this disease.”

The L5 Foundation supports five cancer related causes: breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung Cancer, colon cancer, and childhood malignancies.

Provision CARES Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation formed as a world class cancer-care organization that provides cancer awareness, education, wellness, research and patient assistance for patients, their families, and the public in East Tennessee.

Read full press release here.

Breast cancer patient finds support at Provision


After 25 years of faithfully submitting to her annual mammogram, Jean Aikens had never gotten the dreaded call, although her sister’s breast cancer diagnosis 20 years before had definitely put the possibility on her radar.

But between one breast cancer screening and the next, a 3 cm tumor had formed, and all of a sudden Aikens found herself facing a biopsy, then surgery and radiation treatment.

Upon first hearing the news, “I had a real meltdown,” she says. “But after I got through that first day, I turned it over to God, and I think I’ve done pretty good at leaving it with Him.”

The 79-year-old survivor was referred to Provision Center for Proton Therapy in lieu of conventional radiation by her surgeon, Dr. George Webber, at the Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center. As an asthma sufferer, she says, the treatment will help spare her lungs from damage caused by conventional radiation, which is much less precise than proton therapy.

She and her husband, Thomas, left their home in Pikeville, Tenn., and rented a small house in Knoxville, where Aikens received four weeks of proton therapy treatment. Her daughter has joined them for much of that  time, and the couple’s two grandsons spent fall break seeking the sights of Knoxville.

“I told my mom, this is not her journey alone,” says Tina Nail.

Faith and family—Tina plus her church family as well as her adopted Provision family—have supported Aikens through her cancer journey, she says. She especially appreciates the care of patient services director Elizabeth Vanzo, social worker Miranda Cantwell and hospitality coordinators Sharon Hall and Amber Elkins.

“I’m very fortunate to get treatment here,” she says. “I feel God’s blessed me and I give Him all the praise for all the blessings He’s given me.”

The Aikens made Knoxville a home away from home during their month-long stay. They got acquainted with a neighbor, who brought food over, took them on a tour of downtown and gave Thomas the job of trimming his hedge when he complained of missing the daily work on his small farm back home—“I can’t stand sitting around,” he says.

They also managed to have some fun along the way. The two women drug Thomas to the outlet malls in Pigeon Forge. And, during a trip to the Knoxville Zoo, Jean rode camel with her grandson.

“The only thing,” she says, “it was too short of a ride.”

This story and other profiles about Provision patients can be found on






Female support group launched for proton therapy patients


Women who go through proton therapy for cancer have a set of unique needs, and now there’s a group to help address them.

Introducing, the Proton Gals, a support and advocacy group for women who have had or are undergoing proton therapy treatment. With the slogan “Supporting proton therapy and each other,” the group will provide a variety of programs and resources for current and former Provision patients.

The first meeting will be held at 5 p.m., Nov. 16 at the Provision Learning and Innovation Center. For more information or to RSVP, call Sharon Bishop Hall at 865-862-1625—or talk to her at the front desk at Provision Center for Proton Theray, where she serves as a hospitality coordinator. The group has a website and Facebook page devoted to exchanging stories and relevant information to proton therapy patients and cancer survivors.

“We want a venue for women to talk about what they’re going through,” says Hall.

Hall launched and coordinates the Proton Gals group, modeled after a similar program called Proton Guys, which brings together men who’ve gone through proton therapy as an informal support group and promoters of the treatment in the community. Since opening in January, 2014, Provision has treated 184 female patients for cancers ranging from breast to lung to Hodgkin lymphoma.

As a survivor of stage 3 breast cancer, Hall has had extensive experience in the cancer support community including involvement with local cancer support groups and one-on-one connection with cancer patients as a mastectomy fitter at Thompson Cancer Survival Center, the University of Tennessee Medical Center and Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center. She also is a member of the steering committee for the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” initiative and is a member of the Young Survival Coalition.

“You can talk to family, but it’s difficult for them to understand since they’re not in your shoes,” she says. “And, because the experience of cancer patients who have proton therapy is unique from those who have other forms of treatment, I thought it was important to create a forum especially for this group of survivors.”

Proton Gals will have quarterly meetings that will feature guest speakers, opportunity for one-on-one interaction, health and wellness information and an online community to allow members to stay connected and share their experiences. The group also will take on an advocacy role, helping promote improved access and insurance coverage for this more precise, less damaging alternative to conventional radiation therapy.

The group is designed to be a safe place for women receiving treatment at the proton therapy center that will continue to support and assist them after treatment is complete.

“There are side effects and after effects from cancer and the things your body has gone through as well as simply readjusting to ‘normal’ life, “ Hall says. “Just because you’re out of treatment doesn’t mean it’s all over.”