NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- Sentara Healthcare broke ground on Thursday for a $93.5 million construction project to build a cancer center in Norfolk.

The center will be built on Sentara Leigh Hospital campus and will bring together expert care teams from Sentara Medical Group, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Virginia Oncology Associates and other community physicians.

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“The Sentara Cancer Center will bring together multidisciplinary care teams to deliver the most innovative and comprehensive cancer care for the Hampton Roads community as well as patients across the region and country,” said Howard P. Kern, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sentara Healthcare. “Developing this center is the culmination of years of work to deliver a truly integrated cancer program that will engage clinicians, researchers, support staff, community leaders, patients, and families in a collaborative way."

The project will give patients and their families access to different services, appointments, and treatment, all in one spot.

Just a couple of years ago doctors diagnosed Frank McKenna with Stage 4 lung cancer. McKenna went to several locations for appointments and treatment which took its toll on him.

“It would have helped,” McKenna said. “If you have an appointment, a treatment you can come to one place with everyone working together to get help, to get hope.”

Governor Ralph Northam, who practiced medicine in Norfolk for many years, said the new center will bring together experts from across the area.

“Until it touches us or our family we don't realize all that goes into taking care of someone with cancer, so being able to go to one building and to get the care right there is so important,” Northam said.

McKenna, who didn’t have the advantage that the center will offer other patients, isn’t cancer-free but says he feels great now.

And he plans to share his story in hopes of providing hope to others.

“I plan to win, make history and beat this,” McKenna said.

With cancer rates expected to grow by 36 percent, the center is expected to enhance current services including accelerating research, growing as a community resource, developing new care models and coordinating survivorship programs.

The project is set to be completed by mid-2020.

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