Why Group Health? Members Say it Best

Routine Screening Saved My Life


I’ve never been extracted from a battlefield, or rescued from a burning building, or pulled from icy waters, but I do know the feeling of someone saving my life. That’s what my Group Health team did for me in 2011.

In March 2011 I had a routine pap test with Linda Radka, an advanced registered nurse practitioner at the Group Health Medical Centers Silverdale clinic. I wasn’t worried. I’d never had an “iffy” result, and cancer didn’t run in my family. After my pap test, Linda asked me to come back for a biopsy. Then I had a second biopsy with Group Health Physicians Ob/Gyn doctor Mark Cook. The diagnosis was endometrial cancer.

I was stunned by the diagnosis, but glad that the cancer was operable. In May, I met with Mark Doherty, my Virginia Mason surgeon, and my hysterectomy was done in June.

Group Health arranged for me to have most of my follow-up appointments in Kitsap, close to my home, including radiation treatments and visits with an oncologist. I really appreciated that.

I’d sailed pretty easily through the diagnosis of cancer and the surgery, but radiation somehow brought it all home to me: This was oncology. This was cancer.

For my first radiation treatment, I could barely force myself to go into the building. I was terrified. Kathy Parmley, the receptionist, really helped me. Her mantra is “We kick cancer’s butt every day,” and that became my mantra too. Kathy’s can-do attitude took away my dread and helped me refocus on being a participant in the treatment, rather than a victim.

I’m so grateful for the promptness and thoroughness of the care I received from my Group Health team — starting with Linda Radka, my “first responder.” I can’t imagine receiving finer care anywhere else.

What’s my advice to other people? Get your recommended screening exams. That’s how my cancer was caught. If you end up with a cancer diagnosis, don’t keep it to yourself. Telling people I had cancer was hard for me, but when I did, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of caring and support.

A routine test, and Group Health, saved my life. If telling my story can encourage even one person to get tested, it’s all worth it.

Posted: March 2013

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