Oncologist Dr. Sharade Ghamande stays up to date on the latest medical treatment for gynecological cancers and cares for each of his patients according to their condition.
But on one day each year, he gives each of his patients the same treatment.
He treats them to a day at the spa.
Each September, during Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month, Ghamande and the CSRA Gynecological Cancer Support Group holds Spa Day. The day gives patients a respite from the grueling care that cancer treatment often requires and in its place offers relaxation and rejuvenation.
"A lot of women, when they have gynecological cancers, may have undergone surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy and to a certain extent they kind of go through a physical transformation because of the treatments," Ghamande said.
"Often, there's a sense of loss of femininity," he said. "This is our way of trying to encourage them to think beyond those scars and to focus on the inner things and just really enjoy themselves at the spa."
Evelyn McGahee is an ovarian cancer survivor and says the day is a welcome change from the routine at the doctor's office.
"Usually, when your name is being called, most of the time it's for blood work or treatment, but it is so nice on this day to be called for a pedicure or a manicure instead," McGahee said.
Beyond the pampering, the day is rounded out with medical discussions by area physicians and other medical professionals. Meals are provided throughout the day.
Many of the patients already are a part of the support group, which Ghamande says goes a long way in dealing with the disease.
"It is such a huge thing for them to be able to talk to another patient who has been there and done that. That's how the support group came to be about four years ago," he said.
"There's a buddy system where we try to pair patients with similar diagnoses together. And it kind of becomes like an extended family for them during treatment."
This year's event will take place Wednesday and marks the fifth anniversary of spa day. It will again be held at Tuscany Day Spa in Evans.
Leigh Ann Keels, owner of Tuscany, says that she and her staff are looking forward to serving the women and their caregivers.
"It's a real sweet thing to see so many of them come back each year," Keels said. "It's just a wonderful time of renewal for them.
"Just to think about what these ladies and doctors go through together, it's great to see that it's not just all about the medicine. They really care for the person."
"It's just an amazing time," said Nancy Flanagan, who has been under the care of Ghamande's since 2002.
"I think everyone looks forward to it," she said. "It's just great to go get informed plus get pampered."
Ghamande said the event "is just an incredible thing to see, Sometimes someone who may be 70 years old and never been in a spa just kind of running around like a child, giggling and enjoying themselves."
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