Last August, Katherine Beard didn’t think her life could get better.
She was in Cabo San Lucas for her daughter’s wedding. She had recently returned to the Pacific Northwest and was healing after her brother passed away. And she had gotten a new job at a Seattle startup.
“All was well and my future was looking bright,” Beard said.
But one month later in September 2016, the Bellevue resident’s world came crashing down.
During a self exam, she discovered a lump in her breast. It was cancerous.
The healthy-eating, yoga-practicing woman wondered how she could now be faced with beating stage three triple-negative breast cancer.
Beard received that diagnosis after a biopsy at Overlake Medical Center’s new Cancer Center, which held its grand opening on Thursday.
Beard decided to receive her treatment at the cancer center despite receiving a second opinion from a well-respected Seattle oncologist, and she doesn’t regret it. Beard said the comprehensive services she’s received at Overlake are comparable to the “Nordstrom-style treatment.” But the attentive scheduling coordinators, on-time appointments and heated robes are only half of it.
“I had gotten the biopsy near Thanksgiving weekend and I understood that my doctor would be on holiday and I was fully prepared to wait to hear the news,” Beard recalled. “However, I received the call on an early morning on a weekend from Dr. Harrington, explaining my diagnosis. She didn’t want to leave any message on my phone, so she made several calls trying to track me down.”
Dr. Kristi Harrington paused after she gave her diagnosis and gave Beard plenty of time to answer her many questions.
Harrington is the Overlake Cancer Center’s medical director and chairs the Breast Program. She said the cancer center was designed to eliminate unnecessary added stress on patients.
“Our new cancer center doctors come to the patient, not the other way around,” Harrington said at the center’s grand opening. “From diagnosis to treatment to maintaining the health of survivors and providing end-of-life care, our patients are at the center of our new cancer center.”
The cancer center opened earlier this year, but wasn’t fully built until this September. In a multi-year build, the $20 million center received $10 million in individual donations and support from the Overlake Medical Center Foundation.
“While Overlake has delivered top-rated cancer services for many years, this center will allow us to more highly integrate and specialize our resources to help fight cancer,” President and CEO of Overlake Medical Center J. Michael Marsh said at the opening. “It was designed by our staff, our physicians and, of course, our patients. It surrounds the patient in one comprehensive location, has extraordinary physicians and staff, and the most advanced technologies and therapies.”
For the past 10 months, Beard has been at the cancer center every week and has received more than 17 unique services for her aggressive form of breast cancer. Her team of oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, social workers and nutritionists regularly communicate with each other, which gives her peace of mind.
From a caring oncologist listening to her when she was angry and hurting during chemo, to a handwritten note from a social worker, her team helped, and continues to help her, during one of the hardest times in her life.
Beard lost one of her breasts during her battle, her job in March and is currently undergoing radiation, but she says the care and compassion from the cancer center made her experience feel as though it was a true example of a healing partnership.
“I came prepared to fight this disease because I have every reason to live,” Beard said. “The Overlake team came with knowledge, care and compassion — a match made in heaven.”
The completion of the Overlake Cancer Center closed the first phase of a $270 million expansion at Overlake’s Bellevue campus. The center combines leading-edge treatment with supportive services to provide a balanced approach to treating and healing the body, mind and spirit. Physical therapy, social work and financial services are all on site as well. Auxiliary services such as acupuncture and massage are expected to be available later this year.
For more information, visit www.overlakehospital.org/center/overlake-cancer-center.