When Tracy Keller began rapidly losing weight, he sought treatment from his primary care physician close to his family’s farm in Camden, Ohio, near the Indiana border.

Doctors detected a problem in Keller’s bladder, and eventually he was diagnosed with bladder cancer and referred to Dayton Physicians Hematology and Medical Oncology, which has offices about 40 minutes from Keller’s farm.

Dayton Physicians Hematology and Medical Oncology is part of the James Cancer Network, a group of health care providers who work together to help patients across Ohio get care close to home while also having access to the cancer specialists at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

This partnership gave Keller the opportunity to receive much of his care through Dayton Physicians, but also have surgery to remove and reconstruct his bladder at the OSUCCC – James in Columbus, about 100 miles from his home.

Tracy Keller's bladder cancer treatment was a collaborative effort between Dayton Physicians and the OSUCCC – James.

“I just had such a good experience, excellent care and friendly people,” Keller says of the surgery, which Kamal S. Pohar, MD, performed at the OSUCCC – James in July 2023. “I don’t think you’re going to get any better care and advice on cancer than you would at The James.”

A mission to bring world-class care to patients

The James Cancer Network was created to make it easier for patients to access the expertise of the country’s third-largest cancer hospital. Since 2014, it has grown to encompass seven affiliates across Ohio:

  • Dayton Physicians Hematology and Medical Oncology
  • Madison Health
  • Memorial Health
  • Mercy Health – Springfield Cancer Center
  • Mercy Health – St. Rita's Cancer Center
  • Mount Carmel Grove City
  • Wooster Community Hospital
Dr. Bane examines Tracy Keller
Charles Bane, MD, left, helped administer part of Tracy Keller’s care through Dayton Physicians Network, which has offices about 40 minutes from Keller’s home in western Ohio.

How patients benefit from the partnership

In addition to receiving pre-surgery care near his home, Keller’s follow-up visits could also be done with Dayton Physicians, with Dr. Pohar reviewing test results from Columbus.

“The number of follow-up visits can be limited, because the majority of the cancer care can be done locally, which is far more convenient for Mr. Keller and his family,” Dr. Pohar says. “I think that’s another beauty of the James Cancer Network.”

But the program provides benefits beyond local cancer care. The network provides local cancer programs with continuing education for providers and staff, patient education resources, access to clinical research and support programs for patients.

“It’s very professionally satisfying to have that resource to turn to and then to know that you are bringing the best possible treatment options to each and every patient that you see,” says Charles Bane, MD, a medical oncologist with Dayton Physicians who treated Keller. “And being part of this network really helps to make that possible day to day, one patient at a time.”

Tracy Keller with his family
Tracy Keller says his recovery from cancer surgery will give him more time to enjoy his family, including his wife, two daughters and two grandchildren.

‘A little different lifestyle, but I feel good’

Throughout his cancer treatment, Keller was focused on getting back to running the 215-acre farm his parents purchased when he was 9 years old in 1963.

He’s run the farm for 35 years, growing corn and soybeans and helping his two grandchildren raise livestock to show at the Preble County Fair every August. Over the years, it wasn’t uncommon for Keller to work 16-hour days.

When his surgery was scheduled for late July 2023, he was concerned that he might have to miss the fair, and with it the fruits of the work his 18-year-old grandson and 12-year-old granddaughter had done to raise pigs through the spring and summer.

“Dr. Pohar said I should expect to be in the hospital possibly for two weeks, but I actually got out six days after my surgery,” Keller says. “I got home the first day of the fair, so I was able to video chat with the kids during the fair while I was home. That was a big deal to me.

“It’s a little different lifestyle now, but I feel good. I’m able to do everything I want to do, so I’m going to have that new lease on life to enjoy my family and my grandkids. I’m doing really well.”


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