24 Sep “Every person touched my life.” What Cancer Care in Sequim Meant to One Local Woman
The highest level of cancer care—and the importance of location—was paramount for Gail Becker as she embarked on chemotherapy for the first time.
When Gail Becker first received a Stage 3 ovarian cancer diagnosis, the Joyce, Wash. resident said it “felt like I was punched in the stomach.” The news shocked her, and in the midst of processing what was taking place in her body, one the first questions she asked was:
“If I have to see an oncologist, can I see them in Sequim?”
Thankfully for Gail, and other cancer patients on the Olympic Peninsula, the answer is yes.
Olympic Medical Cancer Center has been providing cancer care in Sequim for nearly 20 years, and is home to a collaborative team of board-certified oncologists, specially trained nurses, patient navigators, technologists, nutritionists and more, who all work together to develop a unique treatment plan for every patient.
This level of care—and the importance of its location—was paramount for Gail as she embarked on chemotherapy for the first time.
Cancer Care Clos(er) to Home
Before 2020 and her ovarian cancer diagnosis, Gail had never given a thought to cancer care on the Olympic Peninsula. “I’d never paid attention to it because I’d never needed it.”
But when she realized chemotherapy would be a part of her treatment plan, she clearly saw how important having Olympic Medical Cancer Center is for patients and loved ones living here.
“I’m incredibly grateful for the cancer center because I don’t have to make that arduous trip to Seattle,” shared Gail. “I can’t imagine sitting hooked up for six hours, staying overnight somewhere, then driving all the way back to Joyce.”
Though Gail received care from a Seattle-based gynecologist oncologist during her treatment and visited Seattle for consultations in the early stages of her diagnosis, she’s grateful the oncologists in Seattle and Sequim worked together to ensure her treatment closer to home.
Gail knew cancer treatment was tolling both physically and emotionally, and she stressed that if she’d needed to go to Seattle for treatment, it might have pushed her past her limits.
“The amount of stress [driving to Seattle] would have added to an already extremely stressful situation, I can’t even imagine,” said Gail. “When you think about what stress does to your body and how hard you’re trying to keep your spirits up, the stress of driving over would easily break someone’s spirit.”
Professional Care, Privately
Thankfully, not only did Gail have access to a top team of oncologists, nurses and staff at Olympic Medical Cancer Center, but she found herself pleasantly surprised by the level of emotional care she found close to home.
“Walking into the cancer center, I was pleased that it was so welcoming. When I first walked into the lobby it was filled with plants and cheery people,” said Gail. “And every time the sliding doors open, the nurses are full of pep and energy and it never stopped. They treat you like you are a princess.”
Gail also found solace in the private infusion suites where she received chemotherapy.
Unlike infusion bays in some urban cancer centers where multiple patients share a large room, patients receiving infusion at Olympic Medical Cancer Center have their own private space.
These suites, which were remodeled in 2020, were designed to stream natural light and create a calming environment—one which Gail appreciated.
“I was happily surprised when I first walked in and saw the infusion suite,” said Gail. “I wrote letters, read books and played cards. It was so nice to have my own private room.”
Going Above and Beyond
For Gail, the care she received at Olympic Medical Cancer Center spanned physical, emotional and, to her surprise, financial care. This was thanks to the Patient Navigator program, made up of a team dedicated to caring for patients’ mental, emotional and spiritual well-being while undergoing radiation or infusion at Olympic Medical Cancer Center.
Gail learned the medication she needed after chemotherapy had a co-pay of $3,000 per month. As with most people, this wasn’t feasible for her.
“That would wipe out my savings with no recouping,” said Gail. “I told the team I wasn’t going to be able to pay that.”
Thanks to the Patient Navigator program and the team of advocates that comprise it, Gail received some happy news.
“[The Patient Navigator] told me I’d be getting my medication for $0. I was so relieved,” said Gail. “I’ve been advocating for people my whole life, so it was great to have them advocate for me.”
Though Gail has been through a wave of treatment and range of emotions since her diagnosis last year, she is choosing to also find sparks of gratefulness. And when she thinks of Olympic Medical Cancer Center, there are many people for whom she is grateful.
“OMCC is a great group of people. The front desk staff is always pleasant, Dr. Weeks has walked with me through all my questions, all the brilliant, uplifting and compassionate nurses,” said Gail. “They’re all great. Every person touched my life.”
Learn more about cancer care in Sequim by exploring Olympic Medical Cancer Center today.