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Coach Don & Carmen Center for Excellence

Avera Cancer Institute Aberdeen

Coach Don & Carmen Meyer Center of Excellence

Home of Avera Cancer Institute Aberdeen

A place of hope. Of healing. Of faith, courage and dignity. A place to be honored as an individual, a patient, a survivor. A delicate balance of technology and grace, of reassurance and coping, a place of personal connections.

At Avera Cancer Institute, we know that cancer care is more than treating a disease. It’s caring for the person, recognizing the person as a whole (mind, body and spirit), through each stage of the cancer journey.

Let’s join together as a community and as partners with those living with cancer, to provide sanctuary and a place to turn to when in great need of healing.


Don and Carmen Meyer Center of Excellence

Avera has deep roots in the Aberdeen community and for years has offered expert cancer care. We're excited to expand our services under one roof in the Avera Cancer Institute Aberdeen Don and Carmen Meyer Center of Excellence. Services include:

  • Oncology
  • Chemotherapy/Infusion
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Telemedicine
  • Patient Navigation
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Clinical Trials/Research
  • Nutrition Counseling
  • Surgical Care
  • Chaplaincy
  • Social Work
  • Massage Therapy
  • Therapy Services
  • Financial Counseling
  • Valet Parking

Access to cancer care is easier than ever with Avera Cancer Institute Aberdeen. That's cancer care done differently in northeast South Dakota.

Don and Carmen Meyer

Dear Friends,

Coach Don Meyer and Wife CarmenThe fight against cancer goes on, and there is no one we know who can say they have not been touched by this terrible illness. Whether it is a family member, a close friend or you, we are all affected differently, but the common thread that connects us is life altering.

Though this journey hasn’t been easy, we feel so fortunate to have the Avera Cancer Care Center right here in Aberdeen. Being able to get treatment close to home, family and friends has been an enormous blessing for us. Dr. Richard Conklin and his team are true professionals, and we know that we could not have received better care anywhere else.

Unfortunately, the need for the Avera Cancer Care Center continues to grow exponentially each year. There is not a day when the waiting, treatment and exam rooms are not overflowing with patients.

Your support can help our community step up the fight against cancer.

Please join us in supporting this campaign to construct the new Avera Cancer Institute of Aberdeen. We are confident that this initiative will build on the success and greatly improve the availability of services. We hope you will consider helping us.

Coach Don Meyer and Carmen Meyer

The Coach Don Meyer Story

Coach Don MeyerWith 923 wins, Don Meyer is one of the most successful coaches in NCAA men’s basketball.

On Sept. 5, 2008, while driving to a team retreat, Meyer fell asleep at the wheel, crossed the center line, and crashed into a semi-truck loaded with 90,000 pounds of grain.

Meyer, who was alone in his vehicle, sustained life-threatening injuries and was transported by CareFlight to Avera St. Luke’s Hospital in Aberdeen, S.D., and then to Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls.

After hours of emergency surgery, Carmen Meyer was told that doctors discovered slow growing, inoperable cancer in his liver and small intestine.

Meyer, who underwent eight surgeries and had his left leg amputated below the knee, returned to coaching, and within weeks became the winningest men’s basketball NCAA coach in January 2009.

He was presented with the “Jimmy V Award for Perseverance” at the ESPY Awards in 2009 and is the subject of a book, “How Lucky You Can Be: The Story of Coach Don Meyer,” written by ESPN reporter Buster Olney.

Meyer retired from coaching in 2010.

Everything Changed

In September 2008, Northern State University men’s basketball coach Don Meyer stood on the brink of immortality. He was about to surpass the legendary Bobby Knight to become the all-time NCAA wins leader in men’s basketball. Then, on a two-lane road in South Dakota, everything changed in an instant.” ~ Buster Olney
“How Lucky You Can Be”

Mission of Hope and Healing Video

Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional non-profits and other mission-aligned organizations in the U.S. and around the world in health, selected place-based initiatives, and education and human services.

In 2009, the Trust created its Rural Healthcare Program to improve access to and quality of care in the upper Midwest. Working closely with nonprofit implementing partners, such as Avera Health, the program invests in projects that improve health care delivery and strengthen the health care workforce in rural communities.

The Trust has a continuing goal to bring state-of-the-art cancer detection and treatment to patients in the upper Midwest. The ultimate goal is that cancer patients will have access to gold standard treatment and expertise, no matter where they live.

The Trust's generous grant of $3.4 million provided for the purchase of a new, fully digital Elekta Infinity™ linear accelerator, which offers enhanced imaging and the capability for a full range of state-of-the-art radiation treatments at Avera Cancer Institute Aberdeen.

Avera has been honored to receive the Helmsley funding for numerous projects, including Avera eCARE, the Northern Great Plains Oncology Network, intraoperative radiation therapy, digital mammography equipment, CT scanners, and more.

About the Helmsley GiftElekta Infinity Linear Accelerator

Avera Cancer Institute Aberdeen is grateful for a generous grant of $3.4 million from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to purchase a fully digital Elekta Infinity™ linear accelerator for its new home in the Don and Carmen Meyer Center of Excellence.

By replacing out-of-date equipment installed in 2003, the new linear accelerator will allow Avera Cancer Institute Aberdeen to provide a full range of radiation oncology services that are tailored for each individual.

The Elekta Infinity delivers precise beams of radiation to destroy cancer cells. The machine's capabilities allow high treatment accuracy and optimal positioning, while also reducing radiation dosages. Motion management tools monitor and adjust for changing position of the tumor caused by the motion of the body. Treatment planning software and on-board imaging provide for enhanced precision. The Elekta Infinity offers specialized treatment capabilities, for example, intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).

Thanks to Avera's collaboration with Elekta and the placement of Elekta machines at other Avera loactions, radiation treatment is seamless between Avera locations, should a patient need care at another Avera Cancer Institute site.


Donate Online

Your gift is an investment in critically needed local cancer care.

Mail Your Donation

Avera St. Luke's Foundation
305 S. State St.
Aberdeen, SD 57401

Contact Us

Avera St. Luke's Foundation
Phone: 605-622-5758

History and Milestones

A diphtheria epidemic at the turn of the 20th century in Aberdeen led to the beginning of Avera St. Luke’s Hospital. On Oct. 18, 1901, St. Luke’s Hospital, a 15-bed facility, was dedicated as the pioneer health care facility of the Presentation Sisters.

  • 1901 St. Luke’s Hospital opens its doors
  • 1928 St. Luke’s expands to a 159-bed facility
  • 1941 A polio epidemic sweeps the region in the mid-1940s, and St. Luke’s becomes the Center for the National Foundation for Polio
  • 1951 The School of Anesthesia opens
  • 1959 St. Luke’s Auxiliary reactivates
  • 1963 The Fischer quintuplets are born, giving St. Luke’s worldwide recognition
  • 1972 A new South Wing is added to the 1928 hospital building
  • 1981 St. Luke’s grows to 160 beds and 20 bassinets, a medical and dental staff of 66
  • 1988 St. Luke’s cancer care advances with the first linear accelerator in Aberdeen
  • 1988 St. Luke’s consolidates with Dakota Midland Hospital and becomes St. Luke’s Midland Regional Medical Center
  • 1994 St. Luke’s merges with the long-term care facilities of Mother Joseph Manor
  • 2000 The Presentation and Benedictine Sisters become cosponsors of Avera Health
  • 2005 Physical and Aquatic Therapy Center opens
  • 2006 Construction is completed on a new four-story addition that houses a new ICU, BirthPlace and physician clinics
  • 2006 Construction on State Street Medical Square is completed
  • 2011 Avera St. Luke’s turns 110!
  • 2012 Dr. Richard J. Conklin joins Avera Medical Group
  • 2013 Capital Campaign for the Avera Cancer Institute Aberdeen is launched

Service Area

ACI Aberdeen Service Area Map

Current Services

Providing comprehensive care, close to home

  • Chemotherapy and advanced molecular targeted therapies
  • Setup and maintenance of continuous infusion pumps for administration of chemotherapy or analgesics for prolonged outpatient infusions, avoiding hospitalization
  • State-of-the-art, nationally accredited laboratory affiliated with many national labs for very complicated tests
  • Placement of peripherally inserted central catheters (PICC lines)
  • Bone marrow biopsies with and without sedation
  • Research and clinical trial opportunities through the National Alliance of Research Associates Programs
  • Management of hematologic problems including intravenous iron therapy, gamma globulin, and monoclonal antibody therapy
  • Nurse phone line available during business hours to assist you immediately with any problems or concerns, and 24-hour pump coverage with oncology nurses
  • Various patient assistance programs for costly oral medications
  • State-of-the-art radiation therapy
  • Specialty consultations with hematologists specializing in bone marrow transplants with clinics in Aberdeen
  • Infusion center for physician specialties outside the field of oncology, such as rheumatology, gastroenterology, dermatology, infectious disease and others
  • Telemedicine with several specialists including endocrinology, hematology, transplant, liver specialists, infectious disease, allowing you to stay close to home
  • Planning multi-specialty clinics for breast, lung and colon cancer

Proposed Floor Plan

Proposed Floor Plan

Proposed Interior Lobby

Proposed Lobby

Who We Are

Dr. Richard ConklinSince 1989, Dr. Richard Conklin has grown his oncology/hematology practice as the first full-time oncologist in Aberdeen. The current Cancer Center was remodeled in 1996, and again in 2006, to better accommodate patients, provide space for the latest available treatments and allow for the implementation of an electronic medical records system. In 2003 a Varian 21EX linear accelerator, which can also perform specialized treatments such as Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), replaced the original linear accelerator from 1988.

As the population of Aberdeen continues to grow and our baby boomers enter the Medicare ranks, Avera St. Luke’s and Dr. Conklin see the need to accommodate projected increases in cancer incidence. The new partnership was a natural, and a new day of cancer care for Aberdeen is at the forefront.

Avera St. Luke’s, Dr. Conklin and the experienced team at Avera Medical Group Oncology and Hematology Aberdeen bring new opportunities for a coordinated, comprehensive care model that will meet challenges in cancer care for years to come. The Avera Cancer Institute will greatly benefit our patients and their families by enhancing the ability to triumph over these personal challenges.

  • Currently more than 17,000 patient visits each year
  • More than 8,000 infusion treatments annually
  • Projecting a 67% increase in cancer incidence in older adults nationwide over the next 20 years
  • 84% of our patients come from Aberdeen and the surrounding seven counties
  • Percent of population over age 65 in Brown and adjoining counties is 22%, well above the national average of 14

Who We Are Going to Be

Service Enhancements

  • Comprehensive care under one roof
  • Community screening programs
  • Public education programs
  • Increased research and clinical trials
  • Nutritionist
  • Coordinated early screenings
  • Multi-disciplinary clinics for lung, breast, colon cancer and more
  • Genetic counseling via telemedicine
  • Health spa
  • Enhanced psychosocial services
    • Chaplain services
    • Support groups
    • American Cancer Society
    • Social work program
  • Alternative medicine program
  • New sub-specialty clinics to support cancer carem
    • Endocrinology
    • Genetic counseling
    • Medical oncology
    • Pediatric oncology support
    • Radiation oncology
    • Rheumatology

Current Treatment, Research & Trials

NCCTG N093B: Phase I/II study of Panobinostat (LBH589) and Letrozole in patients with triple negative metastatic breast cancer

NSABP B-49: A phase III clinical trial comparing the combination of Docetaxel plus Cyclophosphamide to nthracycline-based chemotherapy regimens for women with node-positive or high-risk node-negative, HER2-negative breast cancer

NSABP B-47: A randomized phase III trial of Adjuvant therapy comparing chemotherapy alone (six cycles of Docetaxel plus Cyclophosphamide or four cycles of Doxorubicin plus Cyclophosphamide followed by weekly Paclitaxel) to chemotherapy plus Trastuzumab in women with node-positive or high-risk node-negative ER2-low invasive breast cancer

NSABP B-43: A phase III clinical trial comparing Trastuzumab given concurrently with radiation therapy and radiation therapy alone for women with HER2-neu positive ductal carcinoma in situ resected by lumpectomy

SWOG S1007: A phase III clinical trial of standard Adjuvant EndocrineTherapy +/- chemotherapy in patients with one to three positive nodes, hormone receptor-positive and HER2-negative breast cancer with recurrence score (RS) of 25 or less

Alliance A221102: Randomized double-blind placebo controlled study of subcutaneous testosterone in the Adjuvant treatment of postmenopausal women with Aromatase inhibitor induced Arthralgias

ECOG E3A06: Randomized phase III trial of Lenalidomide versus observation alone in patients with asymptomatic high-risk smoldering multiple myeloma

ECOG E1505: A phase III randomized trial of Adjuvant chemotherapy with or without Bevacizumab for patients with completely resected stage IB (≥ 4 cm) – IIIA non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

ECOG E5508: Randomized phase III study of maintenance therapy with Bevacizumab, Pemetrexed, or a combination of Bevacizumab and Pemetrexed following Carboplatin, Paclitaxel and Bevacizumab for advanced non-squamous NSCLC

Alliance A221101: The use of Armodafinil (Nuvigil) to reduce cancerrelated fatigue in patients with glioblastoma multiform

NSABP P-5: Statin polyp prevention trial in patients with resected colon cancer

CALGB C80702: A phase III trial of six versus 12 treatments of Adjuvant FOLFOX plus Celecoxib or placebo for patients with resected stage III colon cancer

SWOG S0931: “EVEREST”: EVErolimus for renal cancer ensuing surgical therapy, a phase III study

Amgen 20070782: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the long-term safety and efficacy of Darbepoetin Alfa Administered at 500 ug once every three weeks in anemic subjects with advanced stage non-small cell lung cancer receiving multi-cycle chemotherapy

Amgen 20090482: A randomized, doube-blind, multicenter study of Denosumab compared with Zoledronic Acid (Zometa) in the treatment of bone disease in subjects with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma

Genoptix: Clinical evaluation of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) for the diagnosis and management of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)

Funding Resources

  • Carmen Meyer and Coach Don MeyerThe Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust contributed a $3.4 million grant to purchase a state-of-the-art Elekta Infinity™ linear accelerator.
  • Avera St. Luke's will pay a significant portion of the cost of the new Avera Cancer Institute Aberdeen.
  • Regional donors, such as you and I, will play a very important
    role in helping our Cancer Institute become a reality.
  • Notable sports and entertainment
    figures and acquaintances of Don and Carmen Meyer will play an important role in the success of the new Cancer Institute campaign.

Gift Levels

Your gifts are needed to build the Avera Cancer Institute Aberdeen. Your gift, no matter the size or amount, is important in this mission of hope and healing.

Gifts accepted may include cash, stocks and bonds, CDs, land, land rent options, gift of grain, livestock and future earnings. Your questions and thoughts may be directed to Michael O’Keefe, Vice President of Business Development – Avera St. Luke’s Foundation, 605-622-5758, or

Number of Gifts Needed Amount Total
 2  $1,000,000  $2,000,000
 1  $750,000  $750,000
 2  $500,000  $1,000,000
 3  $250,000  $750,000
 4  $100,000  $400,000
 8  $50,000  $400,000
 16  $25,000   $400,000
 30  $10,000   $300,000
 Many  $5,000 and below  $100,000
Campaign $ 6.1 million
Avera St. Luke's $ 7.4 million
Total Cost $13.5 million