Retired WVCI physician honored with bench at Mount Pisgah

Dr. Peter Kovach spent 20 of his 33 years in oncology caring for patients at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute. Dr. Kovach retired earlier this year and, as is tradition at WVCI, discussion among the physicians began over what to present him as a retirement gift. 

For a man often described as compassionate and caring and who dedicated decades to his patients, they decided on the perfect gift—a beautifully crafted wooden bench placed trailside on Mount Pisgah for others to enjoy.

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Posted June 14, 2016

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New lung cancer therapies inspire hope at summit

There’s a saying in the lung cancer community: If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer.

It happened to Anne Gallagher, a patient navigator at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute, and according to the American Lung Association, there are more than 400,000 Americans living today who have been diagnosed with lung cancer.

But there is hope, says Anne, who recently returned from this year’s LUNGevity Hope Summit in Arlington, Virginia.

The national gathering, which is held each year in May—Lung Cancer HOPE Month—provides support for survivors, caregivers and advocates and is an opportunity to give voice to their experiences. It’s also a chance for survivors to engage in educational sessions on topics like research, immunotherapy, living with lung cancer, nutrition, and becoming an empowered advocate.

“Five years ago, I attended my first Hope Summit and there were 40 people there,” Anne says. “This year, there were around 300.”

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Posted May 18, 2016

Personalizing cancer treatment

Cancer treatment has significantly changed over the last five years, largely due to research that has produced targeted therapies and immunotherapies, which are directly benefiting patients at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute.

Targeted therapy
Targeted therapies are drugs designed to interfere with specific molecules that tumors need to grow, while the therapies do little damage to normal cells.

“It’s treatment that is unique to an individual patient,” says Dr. Jeff Sharman, director of research at WVCI. ”For example, you could have five individuals with breast cancer, they might have five different individual characteristics that drive the disease. In many cases, we now have tools to identify those drivers and turn them off.”  

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Posted May 11, 2016

How is prognosis determined?

One of the first questions typically asked by patients diagnosed with cancer is, “How serious is it?”

Your oncologist can't predict the future, but he or she can make an estimate based on other people's experiences with the same type of cancer. This is referred to as a prognosis.

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Posted April 11, 2016

Volunteers offer support to patients through nourishing meals

In a community kitchen near downtown Eugene, 14-year-old Eli Panero chops garlic. A lot of garlic. His eyes periodically scan the the counter in front of him for the ingredients he needs to create the recipe, Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Pesto.

“I’m really interested in learning how to cook,” he says. “I’d never done it until I came here.”

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Posted April 6, 2016