A nationally accredited program of care

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The ETMC Cancer Institute received the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons Outstanding Achievement Award along with a small, select group of accredited cancer programs that were surveyed in 2011. The award is granted to facilities that demonstrate a high level of compliance with established standards in areas such as: leadership, cancer data management, clinical management, research, community outreach and quality improvement.

Only around 20 percent of the cancer programs surveyed in 2011 received this award. Accreditation by the CoC is given only to those facilities that have committed to providing the highest levels of quality cancer care. ETMC undergoes a rigorous evaluation process and review of our performance every three years. Nationwide only thirty percent of all hospitals are CoC accredited cancer programs. For the physicians, providers and administrators at ETMC to make the commitment, to offer this level of care, is a great resource for cancer patients wishing to stay in East Texas from diagnosis through treatment.

In 1990, ETMC’s Cancer Institute became the first oncology program in East Texas to be certified by the CoC, placing it among the elite hospitals in the nation with approved cancer programs.  In 2011, ETMC was granted another three-year accreditation with commendation to the cancer program.

Receiving care at a commission-approved cancer program ensures that a patient will have access to many benefits that ensure quality:

  • Comprehensive care, including a range of state-of-the-art services and equipment.
  • A multi-specialty, team approach to coordinate the best treatment options.
  • Information about ongoing clinical trials and new treatment options.
  • Access to cancer-related information, education and support.
  • Ongoing monitoring and improvement of care.
  • Quality care close to home.

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The commitment to caring

Dee Crabtree, RN
ETMC Cancer Institute Athens
Clinical staff nurse

Dee Crabtree has been an oncology nurse at the ETMC Cancer Institute in Athens for over a year. She started her nursing career as a shift nurse and worked in cardiology and home health nursing in Tyler for eight years before finding her calling.

“I’ve always loved what I do as a nurse. Athens is a very relaxing, calm, environment to heal in and the patient’s love it. We’re a team and we always have the patient as the center of everything; it’s everybody working together for the patient.”

Her experiences in her career and in her life have confirmed her choice. “People think bigger towns have better doctors or better this and that, but I don’t believe that’s true at all.” Personally and professionally, Dee’s heart is in Athens—and at ETMC.

“ETMC is an excellent system. I have worked for others but prefer this. They have the same beliefs I do that the patient comes first, no matter what. I just think it’s a wonderful place and if I had cancer, I would be treated here.”


Sally Story, RN, OCN
ETMC Tyler
6 North charge nurse

Growing up—long before she watched oncology nurses take care of her mother—Sally Story knew she wanted to be a nurse.

“I always knew oncology was where I wanted to be. I became an oncology-certified nurse because I wanted to be the best nurse I could be for the patients.”

Sally is the charge nurse for 6 North at ETMC Tyler, where cancer patients are treated.

“The oncology doctors are wonderful. You can just tell they love their patients, and that makes a big difference. The patients love them as well.”

The coursework and board examination to become an oncology-certified nurse are stringent. So is the continuing education required to maintain certification, but she understands that some aspects of caring for patients can’t be taught.

“What a greater privilege is there than to be at their bedside? You get to know them and be part of their family. You get to give them comfort, hold their hand and love them. I can’t imagine doing anything else, I love my job and everyone I work with.”


Pat Branham, RN, OCN
Blood and Cancer Center of East Texas
Nurse manager

Pat Branham began her medical career at ETMC in the dietary department as a hostess. She enjoyed working with patients and went back to school to become a registered nurse.

“I have had the privilege of working in various areas of nursing but none have been more rewarding than the last nine and a half years in oncology. I have always been drawn to oncology since my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer at 59 and lost his battle a few months after diagnosis.”

Pat works for Dr. Gary Gross at the Blood and Cancer Center of East Texas.

“I have come to believe that nursing is a calling and not just a job. I also believe that we are put here to make a difference in the lives of others, so with this belief I make it my practice everyday to offer hope and support to my patients and their families.”


Annala Shirley, RN, OCN
Tyler Hematology Oncology, P.A.

Annala Shirley has been a nurse for over 20 years with most of that time in oncology. She has worked at Tyler Hematology Oncology, P.A. since 2012.

“Although it takes years to train and become proficient in oncology, there is must more to being an oncology nurse. We are skilled in chemotherapy, radiation, infection control, dietary considerations and modifiers that will interfere with treatment. We are also highly skilled at listening, compassion and empathy. We are given the opportunity to accompany a patient during the most difficult time of their life.”

Some wonder why you would chose oncology nursing but Annala says it’s a wonderful job.

“It’s not easy but I have found that most of our patients have decided that it is not important to live but to live life to the absolute fullest degree possible. The saying “live like you are dying” is a great motto to have with or without a cancer diagnosis.”

Annala says oncology nurses help people understand the process they are facing and work hard to know they are with them every step of the way.

“Oncology is rewarding, having the ability to touch a life and make an impact is a great feeling at the end of a long day. I have met many people over my years in nursing and I gave a little piece of myself to each and every one of them. I can’t imagine being a nurse in any other area in healthcare.”

Click here to view the 2016 ETMC cancer annual report.