By: Ken Gamboa, Director of Marketing and Business Development, TCCC
We are extremely proud to be celebrating our 25th year of providing world-class cancer care to our community. As we kickoff this amazing year, I wanted to sit down with long time employee, Kristi Rhodes, Radiation Therapist, who started with the Tri-Cities Cancer Center when we first opened our doors back in 1994.
Tell me about when you first began working at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center?
I will never forget the weekend that we moved and unpacked all of the boxes the old Kennewick General. We were excited because the new space was so huge and we thought there was no way we were ever going to be able to fill it. It was overwhelming and beautiful and within six months, we knew we had to need to expand our patient services and get
Can you talk a little about what the Cancer Center was like when it first opened in 1994?
There were 12 employees who started working the very first day. Most of us were transfers from Kennewick General as well as a few new employees. It was such a small group and from the very get go we were a very close knit family. That is one thing I’ve always cherished about working here – we are family. We take care of each other, we look out for each other, and we help each other. Even with the growth, we are still a family.
As a long-time employee of the Cancer Center, if there is one thing you would like to share about our 25 year history, what would it be?
I am just so proud of what the community has done in creating the Cancer Center. It started as an idea, one little spark and it took off. It is exciting to see what our donors and three owner hospitals have been able to accomplish by pulling resources and building one great facility. I am very proud of our community and our donor hospitals.
The technology inside the Cancer Center is cutting edge; can you share your thoughts on our world-class treatment?
It makes me so excited to know that people in our community can actually receive world-class treatment right here at home. There are many things that are on par and or exceed what they are doing in some of the bigger cities around us. We have many patients that go to these bigger facilities to get second opinions and they are referred right back to us to get their treatment. They are able to get treatment right here at home where their support network is and that’s very exciting. That’s where you should be. You should be where your support is, where your loved ones and the people that want to rally around you are, so they can support you when you are going through your cancer treatment.
What has been the impact of the Tri-Cities Cancer Center on you?
For me personally, I can’t imagine having a more rewarding career. When I started in radiation therapy, I was a young 22 year old woman, newly married, and expecting my first child… I have grown up with the Cancer Center. I am so excited and proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.
Over the years, there are usually personal memories that will always stick with you. Are there any that you will always remember?
Many years ago, I had a rough day and I was feeling tired and unaccomplished. We were treating one of the greatest guys, a young man with a bad disease and yet he had a super great attitude. We got done with his treatment and he said, “Hey, why don’t you come out to the waiting room so I can introduce you to my wife.” I thought, “Okay, I can do that.” So, I walked out to the front with him and this tiny little blond girl from across the room squeals, “Daddy, daddy, daddy,” and leaps out of her chair and runs across the room and jumps into his arms. He turned and looked at me and said, “Just in case you wondered, that’s why you came to work today.” It touched my heart and it meant so much to me. We all have bad days once in a while or when you’re not getting things accomplished the way you’d like. That’s when I remember the reason I am here today, and it’s to take care of people and I am honored to do that. Sometimes you just need those touchstone moments to put everything in perspective.
When you think of the Tri-Cities Cancer Center, what word comes to mind?
If I had to pick one word, it would be hope. I feel like we offer our patients and their families hope. Hope that things are going to get better. Hope for positive outcomes. Hope for more time with loved ones. Hope for improved quality of life. There’s always hope. The Cancer Center does a really great job with our navigation programs, support services, giving our patients and their caregivers and their families hope and support to help get them to a better tomorrow. That means a lot to me.
Thanks for taking time to share your story, Kristi.
Be sure to stay up-to-date with all of our stories and information on our website at tccancer.org/anniversary