Diagnosis: Breast cancer
Treatment: Chemotherapy, radiation therapy
Throughout her battle with breast cancer, Kirkland’s Vicki Ebat-Selke relied on the collaborative care of providers from EvergreenHealth’s Halvorson Cancer Center and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) to summon the confidence and determination she needed to undergo treatment and beat the disease.
“From the moment I got the call about my diagnosis, my team of doctors and cancer-care staff were at my side in developing treatment plans and providing the right support along my journey,” Vicki shared.
“You hear horror stories about how this horrible news was delivered in other places and it was a comfort to have it done so gently and helpfully. It was handled with care and compassion.”
Within hours of being told her diagnosis, Vicki learned that she already had appointments scheduled with medical oncologist Dr. Eric Dean and radiation oncologist Dr. Michael Hunter, who partnered with her to devise a treatment plan which included surgery, chemotherapy and a series of radiation appointments.
“It helped to know I had some control and was involved in my treatment plan,” Vicki said. “Everyone works so well together, too; it was such a seamless experience. No matter who I was seeing throughout treatment, each provider was able to pick up where the other left off without me having to fill them in. That type of collaboration is a real comfort.”
Vicki’s case, like all Halvorson Cancer Center patients’ care, went before the EvergreenHealth Tumor Board where a team of experts from all cancer care disciplines with decades of experience devised treatment plans ideal for her.
“The key to Vicki’s care, and in every cancer care case, is to have every provider fully committed to participating throughout the process and able to adapt as treatment plans change and the patient’s needs evolve,” Dr. Dean said. “We are all staying in-tune throughout treatment and are able to modify approaches if needed, as each patient’s cancer treatment is in itself unique.”
This collaboration enables the Halvorson Cancer Center to provide exemplary care that exceeds national standards. Today, the national average rate of recurrence for a breast cancer tumor is as high as 34 to 40 percent, but at EvergreenHealth that average is down to less than 5 percent, which is among the best in the nation.
“We have to be collaborative to achieve optimal results,” Dr. Hunter emphasized. “That starts with the initial communication to help patients understand their case and continues with the detailed discussions we have with providers across the cancer care team and the Tumor Board to determine treatment. It includes considering promising new treatments and clinical trials we have available, as well. We are truly a team that has no weak spots and take great pride in knowing what we need to do to get the job done and give patients like Vicki treatment they need.”
Today, Vicki Ebat-Selke is cancer free but her journey isn’t over—she’s giving back to the program through participation in a clinical research study focused on determining how patient’s needs are met after treatment and what information will better help future patients reduce anxiety levels related to testing and long-term prevention.