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Dec. 8, 2022

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Legacy Salmon Creek aims to heal the soul amid cancer

New facility dedicated to ‘preserving the person’ after a diagnosis

By , Columbian staff reporter
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Karen Beall of Ridgefield, left, chats in the art therapy room with Sue Hammann of Vancouver as Catherine Cotton, also of Vancouver, and art therapist Margaret Hartsook talk during a tour of the new Cancer Healing Center at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center.
Karen Beall of Ridgefield, left, chats in the art therapy room with Sue Hammann of Vancouver as Catherine Cotton, also of Vancouver, and art therapist Margaret Hartsook talk during a tour of the new Cancer Healing Center at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Legacy Salmon Creek opened the doors to its new Cancer Healing Center this spring, providing a space that offers holistic healing for people with a cancer diagnosis.

“You can treat cancer to the best of your ability and you can still leave people with so many pieces to pick up,” said Dr. Cory Donovan, surgical oncologist at Legacy Medical Group. “This is about picking up the pieces and preserving the person.”

The new Cancer Healing Center serves patients from the Breast Health Center, the Infusion Clinic, the Radiology Clinic, the Gynecology Clinic and the Radiation Oncology Clinic — a healing space for a wide array of cancer patients.

The center includes three patient consult rooms; a holistic therapy room for massage and acupuncture; an exam room; staff offices; and a community room for yoga, art therapy and group gatherings.

Last December, Karen Beall was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, she has undergone a year of targeted therapy, 12 weeks of chemotherapy, four weeks of radiation and two surgeries. Beall has taken advantage of the free art classes offered through the Cancer Healing Center.

“There’s a community of patients, and we just make art as distractions. You don’t have to be an artist. You can express whatever you are feeling that day,” Beall said. “It’s a great way for creative people who don’t think they are very good at art.”

The walls of the Cancer Healing Center are lined with pictures and paintings from Pacific Northwest artists who have a connection with cancer either from being patients themselves, through their job or through a family member.

“Each (piece of art) is connected to some sort of transformation or healing,” said Margaret Hartsook, a board-certified art therapist and licensed professional counselor at Legacy Health’s cancer center in Salmon Creek. “There’s a lot of research about what is on the walls and how it really heals and helps with the healing process.”

The Cancer Healing Center offers services both online and in person, including support groups, nutrition classes, yoga classes and art therapy sessions, among others. All services are free for people with a cancer diagnosis receiving care through Legacy Health, according to Niani Dünner, coordinator of the Cancer Healing Center.

“Probably the gift of COVID is that it gave us the opportunity to explore how to reach people we didn’t know we were missing before, because there is a point in your cancer journey that you might not want to leave your house,” said Kelly Doherty, manager of radiation oncology at Legacy Health.

The center hopes to transition to even more in-person offerings starting in 2023, according to Dünner.

For more information about the Cancer Healing Center and the services it offers, visit legacyhealth.org/cancerclasses.

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