New Physician Expands Local Cancer Resources

The diverse array of care options available to Gorge-area residents at Celilo Cancer Center recently expanded even more with the addition of medical oncologist Alice Forsythe, M.D.

Dr. Forsythe becomes the third member of the physician team at Celilo, where since 2001 patients with cancer diagnoses have benefited from skilled specialists, advanced technology and a variety of integrated therapies from acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to yoga and message therapy.

Dr. Forsythe had been caring for cancer patients in a temporary capacity priority to becoming a full-time member of the medical team. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and received her medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago, where she also completed her internship and residency. She finished her medical oncology fellowship at the Michael Reese Hospital/University of Chicago.

Born and raised in Chicago, Dr. Forsythe says she was always proud to say she was a “city kid” from the north side of Chicago instead of the nearby suburbs. She felt a strong connection to the city, and as a child she enjoyed riding on the “L” train downtown, where she would meet father, an attorney.

Walking between lunch and the courthouse with her father, a tall, lanky man, she learned to move fast in order to keep up with him. The lesson stuck. “If anyone has seen me walk it’s clear that I have only one Speed — fast,” she says.

Dr. Forsythe is one of three physicians in her family; two older brothers also practice medicine. Encouraged by her parents to focus on the medical field Forsythe says, “I wanted to contribute to society by entering a field that I felt was socially valuable.”

Once in medical school she was influenced by oncologists, who seemed to have a real connection with and empathy for patients with cancer. Dr. Forsythe says that she chose medical oncology because, “I saw it as a hopeful specialty as so many new advances were being made in that field. I have never regretted my decision.”

Having practiced medical oncology full-time for over 25 years in Illinois and Idaho, and with her children Charlie and Katie in college, Dr. Forsythe decided that she wanted some flexibility in her schedule. Deciding to become a “traveling doctor,” she began filling in for medical oncologists who were on vacation or at conferences.

She traveled to many states and enjoyed visiting new areas and meeting new people. Dr. Forsythe especially liked working at Celilo Cancer Center, enjoying the combination of the facility’s medical excellence, its unique array of therapies, and the outstanding natural beauty of the region.

Dr. Forsythe says she finds patient care to be especially gratifying and enjoys Celilo’s unique care philosophy, which includes making patients and family a true part of their own care team.

“Every individual is unique: physically, emotionally and culturally,” she says. “Add to this mix the particular characteristics of a malignancy and each patient becomes unlike anyone else. It is this uniqueness that makes medicine challenging and stimulating.”

She adds, “I am always interested in the patient as a person — where they are from, what do they do for a livelihood or hobby, what experiences they have had. The uniqueness of the individual patient and his or her quest for health is what I find fascinating.”

She also says that it requires constant, life-long learning to be a physician as situations change and new treatments and diagnostic procedures continue to be developed.

Since discovering the Gorge with her husband Jake and cat Jasmine, Dr. Forsythe has been delighted by the friendliness of the people and their love of the outdoors. She says, “They seem to become energized by the beauty of the area!”