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Perking up the PERC

view of the expanded Patient Education Resource Center

view of the computer stations within the Patient Education Resource Center
Top photo: a look at the new, inviting entrance to the PERC
above: the PERC makes it easy to do online information gathering

The Cancer Center's Patient Education Resource Center gets a new and improved home

Finding the right information can be tough, especially when it comes to something like researching cancer. A trip to the local library can lead you to books written years ago, before certain advances were made in cancer care. The Internet can be even worse, with an overload of information that may or may not be coming from a reliable source.

Your best bet? The Cancer Center's Patient Education Resource Center gives patients easy access to our complete library of all things cancer. And now, thanks to a major renovation, the PERC has a new and improved location and more up-to-date information than ever. Conveniently located on level B2 of the Cancer Center, next to blood draw, the PERC is open Monday through Friday, from 9a.m. to 5 p.m., to all patients and family members.

PERC Librarian Amy Schroer, MILS (left), and Lori Boylan, information resource assistant

"People come to the PERC in search of all types of information, "says librarian Amy Schroer, MILS. "We have disease-specific resources, brochures to help understand treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, nutrition information and more."

Ann Marie Scholten was just 20 years old when she was diagnosed with sarcoma in 2005 and her mother took the lead on researching her illness. She remembers the two of them finding pamphlets about side effects at the old PERC location, which was limited to a small room with no windows.

"Walking into the new location, you can see how much more information there is," she says. "It would have been helpful to see all the information on side effects, which were a big problem for me. Just being able to find information on losing your hair would have been great. It was a tough time."

Scholten visited the new PERC while at the Cancer Center for a checkup with Rashmi Chugh, M.D., since she had some time between blood draw and her appointment. A college student at the time of her diagnosis, she is now a married mother of three and works in fundraising at Michigan State University.

Ann Marie Scholten and Lori Boylan
Ann Marie Scholten (right) and Lori Boylan

"It can be intimidating for patients to find information," says Mandy Higgins, a staff volunteer at the PERC. "All of our information has been vetted by the librarians or the University. You're not going to get inaccurate stuff. Using the PERC can be more reliable than doing research on your own."

Patients needing a detailed search on a rare cancer or topic can tap the PERC staff to do the legwork. They have access to academic journals, as well as other less-common, but also authoritative sources. PERC staff will mail the research to a patient when it's ready.

One new addition to the PERC is a collection of human anatomy models to help patients understand the inner workings of our organs and their locations in the body. There are now four computer workstations instead of one, as well as a printer and copy machine for patient use.

"Patients can check out books and we’ll provide a postage-paid envelope so they can send it back to us no matter when their next appointment takes place," says Schroer. "We have 270 brochures for people to take and are adding more all the time."

Reminder for Cancer Center Patients, Caregivers and Family:

Don't forget about the iPad Program at the PERC, where patients can borrow equipment for their day at the Cancer Center. We have headphones, too. Learn more! Visit the Patient Education Resource Center web page.

Read the 2014 issue of Thrive

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Thrive Issue: 
Winter, 2014