“I have yet to meet anyone at the Heimann Cancer Center who hasn’t treated me like I was the most important person in their life, and I am always greeted like I am a longtime friend, not just another patient.”
Grateful for Compassion
65-year-old Mark has lived in the small town of Orleans, Calif., nestled deep in the Klamath Mountains, with his wife Jill, for more than 30 years. Both former U.S. Forest Service employees, the pair has a unique appreciation and passion for nature – they live happily with their dog Daphne, five cats and numerous other wild creatures who roam through the land.
In the spring of 2022, an X-Ray exam following an unrelated injury revealed a large lesion on Mark’s left femur and he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow cells.
“Getting a cancer diagnosis is scary—it’s the last thing you think you’re going to hear, because cancer is something that happens to someone else.”
Initially referred to an oncologist in Eureka, Mark pushed to be seen instead at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford because of his brother-in-law’s experience a few years earlier: “I was very impressed with the availability and quality of healthcare the Rogue Valley had to offer.” Within two days, he received a call from the Mary and Dick Heimann Cancer Center asking if he was available for an appointment the following week with Dr. Sandra Taylor.
The anxious couple arrived for Mark’s first appointment after a nearly four-hour long drive. Incredibly impressed with the cancer center’s thoughtful layout, Mark and Jill felt immediately at ease. In addition to a thorough assessment of Mark’s diagnosis, Dr. Taylor was also able to perform a necessary bone biopsy during his first visit, saving him and his wife the trouble of additional travel. The procedure proved to be extremely painful, but Mark felt completely supported by both Dr. Taylor and the assisting staff: “I genuinely felt they were hurting just as much as I was.” Mark and Jill both reflect on this first visit as one of their toughest, but also as the first of many moments of genuine compassion.
“My sense of strength, courage and optimism began to blossom. I could physically feel we were at the very right place at the right time. Since that first day, every treatment appointment has been memorable because we have been cared for and respected by some of the most exceptional and wonderful people we know.”
– Jill, Mark’s wife
Instead of traveling to the Bay Area for treatment, something that would have stretched the couple both financially and mentally, they were able to confidently rely on the Heimann Cancer Center – a facility that would not have been possible without the generosity of donors. At the same time, it’s still a significant trip from Orleans to Medford for regular appointments. One day, Mark confided in his support services team that the expense of fuel was a difficult burden. He was awed when they immediately provided him with gas cards to help with the cost of their travel – and deeply moved to learn that donations from the community to the Asante Cancer Compassion Fund made this possible.
Today, Mark is cancer free and eager to share words of encouragement with others who are feeling the fear and uncertainty of an initial cancer diagnosis.
“If I were to meet someone who had just received a cancer diagnosis, I would say, ‘Please, do not give up hope! There are so many people out there who are willing to help you if you just ask’…to have access to this level of care and the state-of-the-art facilities Asante provides is truly a gift to the people of Southern Oregon and Northern California. It’s a gift they should cherish and support in any way they can.”
Patient Stories of Gratitude
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“There is incredible power in doing good. The golden rule should be more than a rule – it should be a purpose.”
—Gene Pelham, Rogue Credit Union