Childhood Cancer

On Sunday, December 8th, 2019, the Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation is partnering with Forever Fighters, a non-profit that delivers personalized care packages to children and teen cancer patients and provides support to cancer survivors, to host a fun-filled holiday party for childhood cancer survivors, siblings and their families. The holiday party will be held at LifeQuest Fitness in Pasco from 2 – 5PM.

The event is free to attend, however, RSVPs are required. Attendees will enjoy fun activities throughout LifeQuest Fitness including a rock climbing wall and bouncy house. For more information and to RSVP, please visit childhoodcancersurvivorday.eventbrite.com or call (509) 737-3413.

 WHAT:            Childhood Cancer Survivor Holiday Party

WHERE:         LifeQuest Fitness, 4215 Convention Pl, Pasco, WA 99301

WHEN:            Sunday, December 8th, 2PM – 5PM


Welcome Dr. Sherry Zhao!

On Monday, August 19th, 2019, the Tri-Cities Cancer Center welcomed Radiation Oncologist, Sherry Zhao, MD to our medical team.

Dr. Zhao is experienced in the treatment of all cancer diagnoses that are radiation appropriate. Dr. Zhao is licensed in Washington and is accepting new patients.

Dr. Zhao studied medicine at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine in Tampa, Florida. She completed her medical internship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts and her Radiation Oncology training at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.

Dr. Zhao joins Medical Director, Sue Mandell, MD, and Guy Jones, MD who are Board Certified Radiation Oncologists at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center.

“We are extremely excited to have Dr. Zhao join our team. Her fresh perspective and patient-centric, collaborative approach are a great addition to the Tri-Cities Cancer Center team,” stated Chuck DeGooyer, Tri-Cities Cancer Center CEO. “We are delighted to welcome Dr. Zhao to our first-class team providing the world-class treatment that our community deserves.”


Hermiston Satellite Office

Tri-Cities Cancer Center Opens Hermiston Satellite Office

 Kennewick, WA – The Tri-Cities Cancer Center is pleased to announce we have opened a Hermiston satellite office. The office is located at 600 Northwest 11th Street, Suite E-23 at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Hermiston. Our office will be available for patient consultations, follow-up visits, support services, as well as survivorship appointments. The Tri-Cities Cancer Center’s Hermiston office will initially be open every Monday. To schedule an appointment, please call (509) 783-9894.

“We want to ensure that our patients are served well across the region,” states Chuck DeGooyer, CEO of the Tri-Cities Cancer Center. “With many of our patients coming from Hermiston and the surrounding communities, we want to make it easier for them to receive their cancer care and support close to their home.  We are pleased to be working in partnership with Good Shepherd Medical Center staff, physicians, and Kadlec Regional Medical Center to bring our services to Hermiston.”`

 First-Class Team. World-Class Treatment You Deserve. We are YOUR Tri-Cities Cancer Center. To learn more about the Tri-Cities Cancer Center, please visit www.tccancer.org.

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Media: To help us ensure the confidentiality of our patients, if you wish to visit the Tri-Cities Cancer Center for the purpose of interviewing and/or covering an activity, please call ahead. A member of the Cancer Center outreach staff will be available to assist you. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.


A Philosophy of Service

By: Carl Berkowitz, TCCC Volunteer

One of Phil Gallagher’s earliest memories is that of sitting in the back of his father’s pickup truck while driving down the streets of his hometown in Connecticut. His job was to put the Red Feather flags into flag holders along Main Street. that reminded people to support their local Community Chest. When he asked his father why they were doing this, the answer was simple. “We’ve got a truck, so we can do it.” This family tradition of public service, ‘we can so we should’, has been a big motivator for Phil ever since, continuing with his college days at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where the motto of his fraternity was ‘Give, expecting nothing thereof’.

The philosophy of helping others eventually led Phil to the Foundation of the Tri-Cities Cancer Center (TCCC), where he found a community of like-minded (“and fun!”) individuals working in support of a cause that was easy to get behind; providing essential health-related services to the Tri-Cities.

Phil came to the Tri-Cities through a career working around the country in the nuclear industry. Now senior vice president of Babcock Services, both his business and personal life have a large focus on our community. Professionally, he provides support for commercial nuclear facilities around the country as well as the major Hanford contractors. Personally, he’s married to another Center volunteer (wife Debi), is the father of son Scott and daughter Hannah, both of whom graduated from our local schools, is a golfer, gardener and paddle boarder. As a past president and a current board member of the Cancer Center Foundation, he’s a strong booster, hands-on backer and advocate for many of its activities.

As part of the Foundation leadership team, Phil would like to see more people volunteer just a few hours a month. His own time investment is variable, typically a couple of hours a week but sometimes more when they have a big event or a retreat. He’s quick to note that it’s not all work; there’s a lot of fun and satisfaction in seeing activities come together, and “…the other volunteers and Foundation members are a great group of folks to be with.”

When asked what he’d like to see develop in the future, Phil talked about expanding the services offered by the TCCC. In particular, he’d like to see the Center develop a ‘hostel’ like facility for families coming in from remote areas that have to stay here for 3-5 days. “This would be a facility that would allow families to maintain their quality time, something like the lodging in Seattle run by the Virginia Mason Medical Center.”

Justifying this need is the fact that the TCCC provides services for residents coming from as far away as Pendleton to the south, Yakima to the west, and up to northern Franklin County. As the population in these areas grow, so too will the need for services offered here. Housing support for patients is obviously a long term goal, but it’s one for which Phil would to like start planning in the not too distant future.

Phil knows that the Foundation and all the TCCC volunteers are working to improve an already great community. But more needs to be done. And who’s going to do it? Phil recalled another quotation from his youth, this one from ‘The Lorax’, by Dr. Seuss:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
(Quote from ‘The Lorax’ by Dr. Seuss.)


HPV Vaccination

By: Joan Stewart, RTT, BA HCA, Tri-Cities Cancer Center and Eastern WA American Cancer Society Ambassador for Mission: HPV Cancer Free

The topic of vaccination is one that brings with it a variety of thoughts and opinions. Recently, the measles outbreak in some parts of our country including the Vancouver, WA area has brought the conversation of vaccinations to the forefront. In this article, I want to specifically discuss the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination.

In the world of vaccinations, the HPV vaccination is fairly new and often misunderstood. Some parents feel that if they have children who aren’t sexually active, then the HPV vaccination is not needed. The fact is that HPV vaccination is meant to protect children and teenagers before they are exposed to HPV, which is spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact. Also, the vaccine is strongly recommended for both boys and girls.

At a local level, specifically Benton and Franklin Counties, HPV vaccination rates are found to be lower than the state level. As of the end of December 2018, the HPV vaccination compliance rates for 9 to 14 year olds (the 2 dose series) in Benton County is 16% completion, Franklin County is 23% completion and Washington State is at 28%. We have plenty of opportunity for improvement and to prevent cancer in our children in the future.

So, why is HPV vaccination so important?
HPV vaccination is cancer prevention. Both boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 26 can be vaccinated for HPV. The vaccine is recommended at ages 11 and 12. Why? The vaccine is a two-dose series (mentioned above) spread over 5-12 months between the ages of 9 and 14 years of age and can have a stronger immune response than older kids and adults. At the age of 15 years and older, the vaccine is a three-dose series spread over six months.

It is estimated 80 million individuals in the United States are currently infected with the HPV virus and about four out of five people will get HPV at some point in their lives. HPV-related cancers affect men and women, which is why it is important for both boys and girls to receive the vaccine. The vaccine is proven safe and effective. Gardasil and Cervarix are the two vaccinations available to protect against HPV. The vaccines are 90% effective at preventing the types of HPV that cause cancer when given before a child is exposed to the virus.

What is the link between HPV and the Big C?
Every year, an estimated 19,400 women and 12,100 men are affected by a HPV-related cancer. HPV-related cancers include oral, throat, cervical, vaginal, penile, anal, as well as genital warts and recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, a rare condition in which warts grow in the throat. Warts can be treated, but may come back. Cancers can be more treatable if diagnosed early, but prevention is the best way to stop HPV-related cancers and that is why HPV vaccination is so important.

Is HPV vaccination safe?
Over 270 million doses have been distributed around the world since 2006, and safety studies continue to show that HPV vaccination is very safe. Vaccine safety is monitored around the U.S. and the world continually. Remember, all vaccines can have potential side effects, but reactions caused by the HPV vaccine have been mild and like those of other vaccines.

Is there a cure or treatment?
There is no treatment for the HPV virus itself. Fortunately, nine in 10 HPV cases clear up without treatment and show no symptoms. However, if HPV does not go away on its own, it can cause various cancers and genital warts.

What is the cost and where can you get the HPV vaccination?
The vaccine is FREE for children under the age of 19, but administration and office visit fees may apply. The vaccination can be given by the Benton-Franklin Health District, your primary health care provider or your local pharmacy.

Is there a way to test for HPV status?
There is no routine test to find out a person’s HPV status. The only test to detect HPV is in cervical cancer screenings.

I am a parent/guardian, where do I go to learn more about the vaccine for my child/children?
Please talk to your doctor about the HPV vaccination. They will have information regarding the HPV vaccination for your child/children. You may also visit tccancer.org/hpv or cancer.org/hpv for additional information.

The Tri-Cities Cancer Center is focused on educating our community on the importance of HPV vaccinations in partnership with the Benton-Franklin Health District. If you or someone you know would like more information, please visit tccancer.org/hpv


Survivorship Care Plan

By: Lisa C.S. Rootvik, ARNP, Director of Cancer Survivorship

A “cancer survivor” is any person who has a history of cancer, from the time they are diagnosed through the remainder of their life. More than 350,000 cancer survivors are currently living in Washington State and there are more than 15 million cancer survivors nationwide. It is estimated that by 2026 there will be 20.3 million cancer survivors alive in the US!

There is no singular path through cancer survivorship. The experience varies for each person. After treatment some patients live cancer-free and symptom-free for the rest of their lives. Others may also live cancer-free for the rest of their lives, but experience late or long term side effects from treatment that affect their quality of life. Some patients have a relapse of their original cancer. Some patients may develop a second cancer. Some cancer patients may have intermittent treatment. Still others may live every day with cancer, with or without treatment.

Although cancer survivorship looks and feels different to every person who experiences it, there are a few common elements, especially for patients who have completed treatment. Every cancer patient has had their life changed in some way by the diagnosis of cancer. Every cancer patient needs to understand their diagnosis and the treatment(s) they have undergone, the possible late and long term side effects from their treatment(s), how their past medical history may affect their future, how to take care of themselves, and how to have the best quality of life possible. Every patient who has completed treatment for their cancer needs to receive a Survivorship Care Plan.

A Survivorship Care Plan is a document that contains a Cancer Treatment Summary and a Follow-up Care Plan. The Cancer Treatment Summary is a brief and concisely written description of each cancer diagnosis experienced by the patient, including factors that affected the selection of treatment(s). It also includes the details of treatment, complications, and ongoing treatment or management required. The Follow-up Care Plan is action-focused and includes all the patient’s health care providers, a list of surveillance recommendations, descriptions of late and long term side effects to look for and how the patient should care for themselves after treatment.

Receiving a Survivorship Care Plan is a part of routine oncology care. At the Tri-Cities Cancer Center Survivorship, Care Plans are given in our Survivorship Clinic by an oncology provider (that’s me!) during a one-on-one office visit. I spend up to 60 minutes with each patient, not only reviewing all of the information in the Survivorship Care Plan, but also taking all the time needed to answer questions, clarify details and to assess any physical, emotional, social, occupational, lifestyle or spiritual needs the patient may have. Resources are discussed and referrals are made as necessary. Additionally, all of the patient’s health care providers are sent a copy of this concise and easily understood document so that they also know how to take care of the patient going forward.

At the beginning of Survivorship Clinic visits, patients often question whether or not they will find the visit beneficial. However, over and over again, patients tell me at the end of the visit that they are very thankful that we have this program. They nearly always learn something new, are pleased to take home their Survivorship Care Plan and are glad that they came to the visit.

I feel gratitude every day to have the opportunity to work one-on-one with cancer patients and their families during this important transition in their lives. As a community, we are extremely lucky to have a Cancer Center that supports this necessary part of oncology care. With this support, the Survivorship Clinic team is able to work hard at providing the very best Survivorship Care possible for each patient we see.

If you are interested in being seen for a visit or have questions about the Survivorship Clinic, please feel free to contact my nurse, Rebecca, at (509) 737-3483 or email me directly at lisarootvik@tccancer.org. And please join us for our free upcoming Survivorship Education Day 2019: Hope Grows Here! (see the event info at tccancer.org/hgh)

If you ever need any help navigating your survivorship experience, know that I am always here to help. During the month of June, and all year long, I extend warm wishes for happiness and the best health possible to each and every one of our community’s survivors.

Comments from the Survivorship Program:
“The survivorship visit was very informative. I wasn’t sure what to expect but am glad I took part in it.”
“Today’s appointment was very helpful. Very clear information and the tools to go forward.”
“Such a meaningful appointment. Thank you!”
“This is a great resource! And so much information covered, so useful. I really wish I would have had it sooner!!”
“I found today’s visit very helpful and now feel a clearer path forward. Thank you.”
“The information was explained very well. I liked the format of the info. And pleased with having it to look at in case I forget.”
“I found the session very helpful. Clarified some things. Introduced new info and good to have a face to address questions to.”
“Lisa was very knowledgeable and had many resources she shared. She answered all my questions. She showed great compassion and sensitivity to my needs. I would highly recommend Lisa to all people looking for support, education and compassionate care.”


Thirteen Years and Counting

By: Carl Berkowitz, TCCC Volunteer

Those who attended this year’s Annual Fund Raiser Breakfast will recognize Tim Doyle as the Master of Ceremonies for this big event. He’s also Vice-President of the Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation and himself a cancer survivor. Tim’s introduction to cancer came via his father who suffered from an aggressive form of prostate cancer that was not detected until therapy was too late. Tim’s cancer was detected at an early stage when treatment was more effective. “And I’m making sure my two boys know that this runs in the family, and that early exams are in their future.”

Based on his experience Tim is a strong backer of the Cancer Center’s many community outreach and early-detection programs. “The Foundation raises money for these activities, helping to cover the cost of supplies for the programs and bringing in the medical teams that do the screenings, all at no cost to the public.“

Tim’s been on the Foundation board for more than 13 years. Why so long? He cites two factors for his participation. First, he strongly believes in the importance of services provided by the Foundation to cancer patients. “We supported our recent campus expansion and helped with over 1000 no-cost screenings this year. Our past work included developing the RV hook-ups behind the TCCC campus for out-of-town patients and we continue to support the Resource Center, where wigs, prosthesis and educational material are freely available to patients.” He also noted the Foundation’s support for the Center’s chaplains and nurse navigators, all of whom have professional training to help patients get through some very difficult times. And he wanted to remind readers that all funds raised by the Foundation are put to good use here in our community.

The second reason Tim has served on the Foundation board as many years as he has are the people. “We have a team that’s a pleasure to work with. Whether we’re having sit-down planning meetings to discuss administrative details or in the process of physically setting up one of our events, the camaraderie is amazing. Each member of the Foundation has a personal stake in making the world a better place for cancer patients. And with most having had some personal experience with cancer, friendships are easily made.”

Much of Tim’s work and that of others on the Foundation board is directed to four major events: the Annual Cancer Crushing Fund Raising Breakfast (sponsored by Mission Support Alliance, and held last March with Tim as the Master of Ceremonies), the Run for Ribbons Fun Run and Ribbonfest Health Fair (to be held May 11th of this year), the HAPO Golf Classic (August 16th) and the CH2M sponsored Autumn Affair (November 9th). Each of these events requires significant administrative planning and on-the-ground legwork. Volunteers are always needed to set up the facilities, host tables or assist or drive participants who need help at the events.

Tim has dreams of further expanding services supported by the Foundation. In particular, he’d like to see continued expansion in the Cancer Center’s early detection screening programs for oral/head and neck cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, cervical cancer and breast cancer. Foundation workers already provide volunteer and financial support for these activities because early detection is key to successful treatment, and Tim believes more needs to be done to lower the cancer rate in our community.

Thirteen years on the Foundation board hasn’t dampened Tim Doyle’s enthusiasm for the work done by this organization.
To learn more about what Tim and other Foundation members are doing, see tccancer.org/foundation/