UMC Passion Campaign secures $25 million to fund new cancer center

Published: Nov. 13, 2023 at 10:27 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 13, 2023 at 10:28 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - UMC is one step closer to bringing a state-of-the-art cancer center to Lubbock. On Monday, the hospital announced the Passion Campaign reached its funding goal of $25 million.

UMC hopes the new center will change the landscape of cancer in the region, through expanded care, in-house research and integrative medicine.

The Passion Campaign cabinet secured the funding for the new TLC2 Foundation Cancer Center in less than two years. The name comes from just one of the donors out of West Texas and Eastern New Mexico who supported the project. Dave Marcinkowski led the way to find those backers.

“The number of people that we’re treating here is just unbelievable, heartbreaking. And so, when you got people to kind of see and they can kind of put their loved ones or their friends in those chairs that are going through this, it was easy for them to open up their pocketbooks,” Marcinkowski said.

UMC CEO Mark Funderburk says cancer is on the rise in the hospital’s region, which serves 2 to 3 million people. The disease has a 13 percent higher incidence rate inside of Lubbock than it does nationally.

“So, it should be in Lubbock. It should be in the hub where so many people from Texas, New Mexico, come to us instead of having to go to Dallas or Houston or Albuquerque,” Funderburk said.

Jessica Wolff, Director of Oncology Service Lines, says right now, the cancer center is bursting at the seams. The new center will boost space from under 47,000 square feet, to nearly 130,000, and will be three stories high.

“It increases access to clinic appointments, provider capability in our infusion center, as well as adding aspects of care that we don’t currently have, much like integrative medicine,” Wolff said.

Integrative medicine is phase two for the Passion Campaign, which UMC launched Monday. It’s now seeking $10 million to establish the program and an endowment, so anyone can access it, no matter their ability to pay.

Those treatments would include things like therapeutic massage, acupuncture and nutrition.

“Integrative medicine is beyond just what you call traditional medicine. It is beyond surgery, chemotherapy, radiation. It is treatments and processes and procedures that are brought here to help patients find support, relief and in the end, hope,” Funderburk said.

The cancer center will also partner with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Funderburk says researchers will be in the building, working to solve cancer right here in Lubbock.

UMC plans to break ground on the TLC2 Foundation Cancer Center in the spring, and open early 2026. It will be on the main campus, south of the emergency center.