Senior woman wearing glass smiling in front of green grass.

From Surgery to Cancer Recovery: Supporting patients every step of the way

The care you find at Island Health is not so much a continuum or linear experience as it is three-dimensional. Our teams collaborate behind the scenes, with each other, and with you, taking a 360 degree approach to ensure you feel heard and valued, to ensure we’re the best partner to our patients. The following patient testimonial illustrates our dedication to take care of you every step of the way.

When a routine mammogram at Island Health detected breast cancer, 80 year-old Ruth Laughlin was naturally concerned. A retired nurse, Laughlin had a pretty good idea of what to expect in terms of care. Those expectations were exceeded both by her doctors and the nursing staff at Island Health as well as by the various clinic staff who helped orchestrate her care.

Laughlin’s cancer was detected on a routine mammogram at Island Health’s Diagnostic Imaging department, and her first consultation to review the findings was with Dr. Kieran Melody, General Surgeon, at Island Surgeons. Melody helped Laughlin and her husband understand the diagnosis and gave her the best options for an optimal outcome. The decision to have a lumpectomy was made initially, but when she needed another procedure to ensure clear margins around the tumor, Dr. Melody immediately called Laughlin and her husband to explain the diagnosis and discuss her options for next steps. The Island Surgeons staff worked to expedite Laughlin’s appointments and to rearrange schedules to tend to her quickly.

Melody gave a very clear picture of her choices, possible treatments, and the pros and cons of treatment therapy.

Behind the scenes, Dr. Melody consulted with the Tumor Board, a multidisciplinary team who reviewed Laughlin’s diagnosis to recommend the best course of treatment. Dr. Junfeng Wang, Oncologist at Island Cancer Care, was a key component of Ruth’s care team. Drs. Melody and Wang collaborated on Laughlin’s case and discussed their recommendations together, partnering to provide the best patient care.

“Dr. Wang was personable and professional. He clearly spelled out my treatment plan and explained all the necessary tests I needed,” she said.

Along with Dr. Wang, Danah Peace-Laws, MSW, Patient Navigator at Island Cancer Care, also coordinated care following Laughlin’s surgical recovery, assisting her with resources to aid in her recovery, getting her back to feeling like herself. Patient Navigators not only assist patients with understanding their diagnoses, they also offer support and guidance throughout cancer treatment.

“I appreciated the thorough explanations and how Drs. Melody and Wang encouraged my questions and took extra interest to make sure I was okay. Dr. Melody also offered counseling services to help me get through this tough time,” Laughlin said. “I had the greatest confidence in my care team.”

After her surgery, Laughlin was required to stay overnight. She says the nurses provided excellent care and were “Johnny on the spot” prompt to assist her in managing her pain levels. She was also impressed with Melody’s progressive standard of care and his respectful treatment of the nursing staff.

Melody says Island Health’s tight interdepartmental collaboration is the key to giving patients the care they deserve.

“We’re a community of providers who trust each other, and we rely on strong communication to achieve the best care and outcomes we can provide,” Melody said. “At the end of the day, though, our care is superior because we care. We care about the quality of our work, but more importantly, we care about our patients and this community. That’s what matters.”

As for Laughlin, she is recovering well and continues to be grateful for her experiences at Island Health.

“It’s a blessing to have such high caliber physicians so close to home,” she said.

“I also want to remind women to get their mammogram!” said Laughlin.

Kieran Melody, MD, FACS is a General Surgeon with Island Surgeons. He obtained his medical degree at the University of California and resides in Anacortes with his wife and children. Dr. Melody and the Island Surgeons team provide a wide range of surgical procedures from breast and laparoscopic surgery services to surgical needs related to the colon, rectum, thyroid, skin and more.

Junfeng Wang, MD is an Oncologist, Hematologist and Internal Medicine provider with Island Cancer Care. He received his medical degree from Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, China, and completed residencies at Yale School of Medicine and the University of Washington. Island Cancer Care is part of the North Puget Oncology Cancer Care Center, a network of oncology centers, offering state-of-the-art cancer care services with the latest medical technology.

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