JAMESTOWN, N.D. - The Jamestown Regional Medical Center board of directors approved the start of construction of a new cancer center as early as Monday, Oct. 1, according to an announcement Thursday.

The announcement was made Thursday evening during a cancer center fundraising event at JRMC.

"This is one of those monumental moments we get to experience and be a part of," said Trisha Jungels, chief nursing officer and interim CEO of JRMC. "The community wants this. The community deserves this."

Hillerud Construction was contracted to build the 3,000-square-foot facility, she said. The project should take about six months to complete and will employ around three or four people, she said. The cancer center will include two exam rooms, six rooms for chemotherapy infusion and a welcome center.

JRMC is partnering with the Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo to recruit an oncologist for the cancer center. The oncologist will be a Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center employee but will contract with JRMC and be in Jamestown full time.

According to JRMC, approximately 252 people are diagnosed or pass away from cancer each year within a 60-mile radius of Jamestown. More than 100 people from this area travel 200 miles round trip for chemotherapy infusion and other cancer treatment elsewhere, according to JRMC.

The JRMC Cancer Center will eliminate approximately 160,000 miles of travel each year for people making monthly, weekly or sometimes daily trips to Fargo, Bismarck or Minnesota.

Cancer is the leading cause of death for individuals ages 45 to 84 in Stutsman County, according to JRMC. The nine-county region accounts for 10 percent of new cancer cases in North Dakota while comprising just 7 percent of the population, according to JRMC.

JRMC has raised most of its $1.5 million goal for this phase of construction of the cancer center. The "Journey to Oncology" capital campaign started in 2016. The Barb and Curt Togstad "Continue Aiding Recipients Affected by Cancer Evermore" (C.A.R.E.) endowment fund will support patients with fuel costs when travel to another clinic or hospital is still necessary.