During his 34-year career as a radiation oncologist, Dr. David Fryefield’s vision and leadership helped shape Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center into a center of excellence, offering the highest quality cancer care with the latest technology and clinical research.
On the day before his retirement, Dr. Fryefield, who co-founded WVCI in 1997, stood before a crowd of well-wishers singing the praises of Carolyn Duquette, the cancer center’s first executive director. He unveiled a bench near the Eugene clinic’s entrance, dedicated to Carolyn, who passed away last year from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
“When I thought about what Carolyn meant to the people she worked with and the patients she helped, a bench seemed appropriate,” Dr. Fryefield said. “It is functional for the patients who need a place to sit down when they are coming and going from the clinic; and I think Carolyn would like the fact that she’s still supporting people—that she’s providing a place of comfort.”
Carolyn’s family surrounded the bench as it was unveiled, truly touched by the gesture.
“She’s going to continue to support people, even though she’s no longer here. That means a lot,” said Shannon Powell, Carolyn’s daughter. “If she were here today, she would be so excited to see this. She would feel blessed and honored to know that she touched so many people.”
Honoring a legacy
Immediately following the bench unveiling, Dr. John Fitzharris surprised Dr. Fryefield by revealing that the newly installed healing garden, located just beyond the bench, was being dedicated to him in commemoration of his retirement and tireless service to his patients over the past three decades.
“We are fortunate that Dave had the foresight and the courage to corral a group of medical oncologists and help them understand what they would be able to offer the community by working together as a team,” Dr. Fitzharris said. “And what we’ve been able to accomplish at WVCI is nothing short of remarkable.”
Willamette Valley Cancer Institute now has 12 medical oncologists, five radiation oncologists and three gynecologic oncologists, all under one roof. Last year, WVCI opened a clinic in Corvallis, and it also has an office in Florence that provides care for surrounding coastal communities.
“We offer numerous clinical trials. We’re able to deliver care that is comparable, if not better than what’s offered in larger cities. Dave’s hard work and commitment was key to making that happen,” said Dr. Fitzharris.
Our hope is that the healing garden and the bench will provide comfort to our patients, just as both Dr. Fryefield and Carolyn did during their many years at WVCI.