Gynecologic oncologist Dr. Audrey Garrett is among 25 people being honored as Healthcare Heroes by The Register-Guard newspaper. The award recipients are nominated by the public and the awards are given to those who go above and beyond in the care they provide to others.

“Cancer is a scary word,” says Dr. Garrett. “When a patient is diagnosed, we meet them where they are, and we need to be able to answer their questions as quickly as possible.”

Dr. Garrett and her colleagues, Dr. Charles Anderson and Dr. Kathleen Yang, lead the gynecologic oncology team at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center in Eugene. The majority of the cases they treat are endometrial, ovarian and cervical cancer, as well as pelvic masses.

“There are not a lot of gynecologic oncologists in the country, so the fact that we have three here in Eugene is really pretty special,” Dr. Garrett says. “We’re the only gynecologic oncology practice between Sacramento and Portland.”

A time of hope
The cancer treatment landscape for gynecologic cancers is advancing. Many procedures are able to be done laparoscopically, which means they are less invasive, and often, a patient can leave the hospital the same day and recover more quickly. The development of targeted therapies is also providing more treatment options for patients.

“Patients are living longer, they’re having fewer side effects from their treatments, and some of the treatments are in pill form, so you don’t necessarily have to come in to the clinic for an IV treatment,” says Dr. Garrett.

When it comes to preventing certain types of cancer, she says the development of the HPV vaccine has been significant.

“We now have an incredibly robust, incredibly safe and incredibly effective vaccine against cancer-causing viruses. That’s really exciting.”

While Dr. Garrett is honored to be named a community Healthcare Hero, she is quick to point out that cancer care requires a team approach.

“Every day in the office, I have an amazing team that is able to support our patients,” she says. “We work together to get them scheduled for their appointments, surgery and appropriate testing, and we work quickly to get their results to them. We really try to take care of our patients and treat them as we would a family member.”