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Legacy’s cancer center strives for comprehensive care

More than anything else, Lindsay Fisher will appreciate the sense of community.

Fisher, a 39-year-old Vancouver resident, thinks the yoga classes will be helpful, as will the social work and nurse and pharmacy navigation, and all the other features of Legacy Salmon Creek’s Cancer Healing Center. But more than anything else, she believes the center, which is slated to open before the end of 2020, will foster friendships.

Almost five years out from her own cancer diagnosis (Hodgkin’s lymphoma), Fisher knows how much friendship from your peers means during cancer treatment.

“It’s nice to be among people with a shared experience because it feels kind of lonely” battling cancer, Fisher said.

Settled on the first floor of the Salmon Creek hospital, the Cancer Healing Center at the Legacy Cancer Institute will aim to provide comprehensive care to its patients. The $1 million project, all philanthropically funded, is expected to include support groups, art therapy groups, yoga and Pilates classes, nurse and pharmacy navigation, social workers, massage therapy, palliative care, financial counseling and more.

There will also be room to grow and potentially offer acupuncture and music therapy in the future. “To have one place where a patient can go,” is how Fisher described the healing center.

“I think it’s so needed,” she said. “I would have loved to have this available to me when I had treatment.”

Linda Green, a 58-year-old Ridgefield resident, feels similarly to Fisher. Green, who is 10 months out of treatment for stage 2 triple negative breast cancer, said it’s hard to go searching for these specialty services when you’re in the midst of cancer treatment. And if you happen to find the services, they might only exist in Portland or Seattle.

“Had these things been available during my cancer treatment, it would have made my life better for a tough time,” Green said.

Feeling healthy

Green received her cancer diagnosis in May 2018 after entering retirement months earlier in January. She said she’s looking forward to finally getting to be truly retired, without cancer treatment. Green has been active in lending her voice to the development of the cancer healing center. She wants to give Legacy the patient perspective, she said.

Green also said she’s feeling healthy again, and was happy to spend the holidays with her family. Last Christmas, she was bald. This Christmas, she was not.

“I’m getting stronger all the time,” Green said. “I now have hair.”

Every time Fisher visits the doctor for a cancer check-up, she still gets anxious. Fisher was diagnosed in 2015 and finished her treatment in August 2015 with no evidence of the disease. She’s creeping up on five years of no evidence of disease — an important mark that signifies a slow-down in the frequency of her check-ups (from every six months to annual visits).

“You always have that lingering five-year mark in the distance. I have that anxiety every time I go for a scan, an appointment,” Fisher said. “I look forward to getting that clean bill of health so that I can take a deep breath again.”


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