The following story is from an interview with Tonya Backstrom, a patient at PSCC.
Her tumors were originally thought to be terminal, however Dr. Ward is still treating her cancer over 13 years later as a chronic disease.
“When I walked into our first appointment with 14 friends and relatives, and Dr. Ward didn’t miss a beat, I knew I was in the right place.”
Tonya was diagnosed with a rare and terminal neuroendocrine tumor 13 years ago and her physician referred her to Puget Sound Cancer Centers. When she came to her first appointment, she brought along a lot of support. Tonya explained, “I showed up with 14 people for that first appointment so they took us all into their conference room. But Dr. Ward wasn’t rattled at all. He just explained all the options and answered all of our questions.”
“All the people at PSCC are just fabulous,” Tonya explains. “Somebody who goes into that business has to have the biggest heart in the world with what they see every day. They’re always positive, always smiling and never in a rush. Whenever I go into other medical offices and they’re running late I get antsy pretty quick. But with Dr. Ward, the few times he has been a little late, I know it’s because he’s giving someone else the care they need. And I have no problem with that.”
“To get some of the treatments I’ve needed, Dr. Ward has gone way above and beyond what would be expected.” Tonya went on, “I used to work at a health insurance company and I know that you shouldn’t have to push this hard to get the care you need to keep someone alive, but that’s what Dr. Ward did for me. He convinced the drug company to supply me medicine that my insurance wouldn’t pay for and it wasn’t even part of a clinical trial.”
“I know it’s hard for me sometimes to understand things,” said Tonya. “Dr Ward knows I’m a visual person so he whips out his clip board and goes to town drawing me pictures to help me imagine what’s going on. I guess that’s something he does all the time for patients.”
“All the people at PSCC just get it. They seem to know what you need. In my family we’re big jokesters, so that’s the relationship I have with them,” Tonya continued. “We kid around a lot and it feels like family, yet they are very professional. In fact Dr. Ward and his people are really up on all the latest treatments. I think I was the 4th person that benefited from a cyber knife treatment. You can be smart and up on the latest techniques and still fun to be around. They are proof of that.”
“Treating my tumors has been a cat and mouse game. And we’ve been playing that game for 13 years since I was diagnosed as ‘terminal.’ Four months ago I felt like I was dying and now I’m feeling really good. I’ve learned a lot about my cancer and myself. I know that cancer is not the end of the world. And there’s one thing I always tell people ‐ keep smiling.”
Tonya has been successfully treated at the Edmonds PSCC for over 13 years.