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From shock to assurance

Patient sits in chair under quilt while receiving medical treatment

Camano Island resident Ruth Anspaugh’s story of breast cancer.

Breast cancer was the last thing on Ruth Anspaugh’s mind when she learned her diagnosis. 

In April 2022 she received a phone call from her physician following a routine mammogram informing her of her breast cancer diagnosis. She was shocked and never expected it to happen to her.

“When I first learned about my diagnosis, my heart sank and I literally felt like I was going to die,” said Anspaugh. “I was still working at the time and a co-worker/friend, who went through a similar diagnosis four years prior, assured me there is life after cancer. That has always stuck with me. She shared her positive experience at Skagit Regional Health and I am very thankful for that.”

Anspaugh began a 16-month treatment at Skagit Regional Health consisting of surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and additional infusions. She reflected back on those months and recalled the collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach to her treatment and how she felt heard and genuinely cared for. She remembers being greeted by her first name at the front desk and the time her providers took addressing all of her questions and concerns.

“The cancer care I received at Skagit Regional Health was phenomenal – my entire team of medical professionals was absolutely amazing,” said Anspaugh. “The nurses in the treatment room and the therapists in radiation oncology were extremely kind, caring and professional – every step of the way was explained and I felt they truly cared about my well-being.”

Woman wears volunteer uniform in kitchen

Skagit Regional Health is accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and aligns its practices with national guidelines also followed by organizations located in the Seattle metropolitan area – showing that quality cancer care is truly close to home.

Skagit Regional Health aims to also help it feel like home. Anspaugh shared the following story as one example - 

“As you can imagine, I was very nervous and scared on my first day in the treatment room for chemotherapy. I intently watched everything and everyone in that room. It was a 6-hour day, so I saw a lot. About halfway through, a 94-year-old lady walked past my chair, she was pushing a walker and had a smile on her face that lit up the room. It was her 94th birthday and the nursing staff celebrated her by wearing party hats. One of the nurses came in on her day off and also made a cake for her. It felt like family there. Everyone really cares about each other. It warmed my heart to see such kindness to celebrate this very special patient’s 94th birthday. We also got to share in her celebration by having cake. It speaks volumes of these caring people.”

Today, Anspaugh is cancer-free. She credits early detection to her positive outcome and her faith in God to get through the process. 

“If you are a woman reading this, please get a mammogram on a regular basis,” said Anspaugh. “If I didn’t have the mammogram done, I would not have known I had cancer. There were no signs, no symptoms, no lumps and no pain.”

Anspaugh now volunteers in the oncology treatment room at the Skagit Regional Health Cancer Care Center in Mount Vernon.