How One Island Health Patient Put Cancer Behind Her

At 67, Friday Harbor resident Sharon Maya had never experienced a major illness. Then she was diagnosed with a form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was facing her first massive chemotherapy infusion at Island Health’s Merle Cancer Care Center (MCCC).

“I was in shock and I was scared,” said Maya. “Then one of the Oncology nurses held my hand and spoke quietly to me. I can’t remember what she said, but it made me feel a little better and a little more ready to face what was ahead.”

Maya’s diagnosis came in May 2012 when her cancer, linked to a tumor on her ankle, was finally identified by MCCC Oncologist Theodore Kim DO. “I never believed it was anything serious, but Dr. Kim wouldn’t give up. After a year of inconclusive tests, scans and examinations, he found the problem,” said Maya.

“I’ll always be grateful for his tenacity.”

Maya’s treatment regimen was exhausting and often frustrating. After her first infusion session it was discovered that her ankle had fractured at the tumor site, requiring further hospitalization and confining her to a wheelchair for six weeks. She also had to make more than two dozen trips from Friday Harbor to Island Health in Anacortes to receive white blood cell-boosting injections in addition to six all-day infusion sessions.

Maya and her husband, John, say that her cancer treatment has been difficult, but both agree the environment at Merle Cancer Care Center and nurses and staff have made the experience easier to handle. “The designers of this facility — with its light-filled spaces and curved surfaces, knew how to create a peaceful place that encourages healing,” said John Maya. “That, coupled with the genuine caring of the nurses and staff, continue to help us both through difficult time.”

Earlier this month Maya had her three-month checkup with Dr. Kim. Scans showed no signs of Lymphoma and she is hopeful that with the treatment and care she received at Island Health, she can begin to put cancer behind her.

Island Cancer Care Center is located at 1015 25th Street, Anacortes. For information and appointments call 360.299.4200.

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