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Celebrating 1,000 Patients

Celebrating 1,000 Patients

Last month we celebrated a major milestone: 1,000 patients have completed proton therapy at our center. In the past three and a half years, we’ve treated patients with all kinds of tumors, from all over the world, from all walks of life.

On Thursday, June 23, more than 80 doctors, staff, family and friends gathered to celebrate the graduation of this week’s 13 graduates. Our President and CEO Annika Andrews and our Medical Director Ramesh Rengan shared some words about the Center’s accomplishments. Dr. Ermoian, our pediatric radiation oncologist, spoke about the benefit of proton therapy for children.

“This is the way patients should be treated,” said Dr. Rengan, as he looked around the ceremony. “Thank you for entrusting us with the privilege of caring for you.”

As custom at our graduation ceremonies, each graduate received a Challenge Coin, which represents their valor and victory in the fight against cancer. Cancer survivor Grace Blanchard received the 1000th Challenge Coin, with her mother, brother, sister and grandparents in the audience to support her.

This celebration was a second for Grace, 21, of Sammamish. She recently graduated from Azusa Pacific University. In March, she experienced some dizziness on Spring Break, but didn’t think much of it. It persisted when she returned to school and she woke up one morning terribly ill. Grace was diagnosed with vertigo, as it runs in her family.

But then Grace lost control of her right hand and starting having slurred speech. An MRI confirmed she had a large mass on her cerebellum. She flew home and had the tumor removed at Seattle Children’s and then started treatment at SCCA.

At first, Grace didn’t think she’d be able to travel back to Azusa Pacific to finish her degree, but she finally got medical clearance to attend graduation. And the school has given her three months to complete her last few classes remotely. She said she was smiling the whole time. Being able to take that step across the stage was incredible. She knows she’s taking a bigger step than most her age. And graduation from proton therapy is another milestone. Another accomplishment under her belt.