The following story is from an interview with Arlene Wade, a patient at PSCC.
Arlene proved that even though PSCC is a 40-minute drive from her home, it's still worth the drive to get the best care in the most comfortable surroundings with an uplifting care team.
"After getting second opinions, I realized I was already where I wanted to be. At PSCC with Dr. Birchfield."
After being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Arleen Wade, a patient at Puget Sound Cancer Centers, sought the best care. "I got second opinions because I just assumed I'd go to a big hospital downtown. So I went to a famous doctor and he was fine, but he told me the exact same things that Dr. Birchfield had already told me."
Getting a second opinion helped Arlene fell good about her care. "I quickly realized PSCC was where I needed to be," Arlene said. "You pick your doctor with the same care you pick your spouse. My connection to Dr. Birchfield - in fact everyone from the receptionist to the nurses - have all become like family to me. And when I go to PSCC, it's so comfortable, like a big living room - not a sterile hospital."
Often there are some highs and lows with cancer treatments. How patients weather these events has a lot to do with the relationship they have with their doctor. Arlene explained, "One time some tests gave us some gloomy news and my husband wasn't there to provide support. Dr. Birchfield sensed that I was really down when I left. The next day I got a letter from him that explained things and outlined my options. He had read my mood and it bothered him. When you're fighting cancer, who you have advocating for you is really important."
She continued, "He is sensitive to how I'm feeling. He adjusts his approach to meet my needs. I laugh and tell him that he's going to have to work my treatment schedule around my social schedule. Quality of life is a big part of this. I wanted to plan treatments around celebrating my 60th birthday in France with 11 girlfriends, which he supported. It was great, I told him I wanted a prescription to buy a 2000 Bordeaux. And yes, I threw out the diet book and ate what I wanted."
Although a lot of patients feel a loss of control when they are diagnosed, Arlene believes you don't have to lose it all. "You can't pick your family, but you can pick who treats your cancer," Arlene said. "And bringing some humor into these heavy moments is a real help. We've even had some giggles in the darkest times. I believe that you can either become obsessive about everything and make that your life, or you can make life your about life. And that's my choice."
Arlene is one of our patients who actually chooses to drive past other treatment facilities to see us. "I live in Normandy Park and my treatment is 40 minutes away in North Seattle. And I gladly make that drive right through Seattle to be in a place where I'm comfortable."
Arlene has been successfully treated at the North Seattle center for over nine years.