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Abben Cancer Center History

Until the mid-1990s, northwest Iowans needed to travel several hours to receive radiation therapy, which for some meant hours of travel and for others it meant staying in hotels during the week to be closer to care. In some cases, patients even opted for extensive surgical interventions as receiving radiation care was not a viable option.  Five northwest Iowa hospitals responded to the need with a plan to create a partnership of hospitals for the sole purpose of seeking state approval for a cancer center and then to share in the operations of the center.

 In February 1996, the Iowa Health Facilities Council approved the development of a radiation center to be located in Spencer. Volunteers of the Spencer Regional Healthcare Foundation undertook an ambitious community fund drive to pay for the building and equipment. Northwest Iowans rallied around the cause. Thousands of gifts poured in ranging from $1 to more than $100,000.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in early October 1996. Construction began immediately and the crew work diligently through the winter. By mid-summer construction was complete and comfortable, welcoming furnishings were selected. The center received its official name, the Abben Cancer Center, named in honor of Ben and Tena Abben, long-time friends and supporters of local healthcare.

 The success of the Abben Cancer Center is due to all the citizens of the region who first asked if this vital service could be provided locally, to those who worked to win state approval, the people who spread the message during the fund-raising effort, and the thousands who made generous gifts to see the center built and equipped. To all of you, thank you.