Decked out in a stylish pair of fringed suede boots, Debbie Stroud shows
off the latest pictures of her grandson to the nurses at MCMC’s
Celilo Cancer Center during a recent chemotherapy treatment.
“He is good medicine,” said Stroud, who still gets down on
all fours to play horsey with her only grandchild, despite undergoing
multiple rounds of chemotherapy and a lumpectomy to remove cancerous breast
tissue. A mother of two, Stroud has been married to her high school sweetheart,
Ron Stroud, for 39 years.
She was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer in June 2017 after an abnormal
mammogram, but attributes her positive outlook to her Christian faith,
sense of humor and strong support system.
“I just knew it was going to be okay and I would have the support
I needed,” she said. “And I do.”
Stroud receives comprehensive cancer services and treatment at MCMC’s
nationally certified Breast Center. The program provides a coordinated,
team approach to care.
Before beginning treatment, patients meet with providers from medical oncology,
radiation therapy and surgical oncology, said Breast Cancer Nurse Navigator
Melodi Johnson. This allows patients to learn the most current information
about treatment options and side effects, so they can make the best choice
for their situation.
Johnson also helps guide and support patients throughout the decision-making
and treatment process.
“I spend time with the patient during their consult visits, in the
infusion room, and on the phone or by whatever method the patient desires,
“Johnson said. “We also have social workers who get involved
to whatever level the patient needs.”
Stroud praised the Breast Center team who have supported her through diagnosis
“The Breast Center at Celilo is amazing,” Stroud said. “This
is a state-of-the-art facility, but that only goes so far. This is also
a loving and compassionate place with a holistic approach to healthcare.
They want you to be as close to normal as you can.”
For Stroud, normal meant continuing to work fulltime and spend time with
her family, friends and church community during treatment.
“At my first appointment with the team, I said I needed to schedule
my treatment around a mother-daughter trip to Hawaii I had planned,”
she said. “It was too important to miss.”
Timing was also critical for Dr. Caitlin McCarthy, who was due to deliver
her first child within the month. One of three surgeons at the MCMC Surgical
Clinic, Dr. McCarthy has specialized training in breast ultrasound, biopsy
and oncoplastic surgical techniques.
The two met several times before Stroud’s lumpectomy. Stroud is enthusiastic
about the surgeon who answered her questions and calmed her fears.
“Dr. McCarthy is the bomb,” Stroud said. “The morning
of my surgery I asked her how the baby was doing. She said, ‘She’s
quiet. She knows we are working.’”
After healing from surgery, between rounds of chemotherapy Stroud hopped
a plane to Hawaii where she and her daughter enjoyed snorkeling and stand-up
“I didn’t have any hair,” she laughs, “but I knew
it was something we needed to do together.”
Stroud begins radiation therapy in early 2018 and will continue to follow
up regularly with Dr. McCarthy and her other physicians in the future.
“It seems like God has handpicked these people for me,” she
said. “I just knew I was in good hands. I haven’t lost an
ounce of sleep though all of this.”
Side Bar to Story
Dr. Caitlin McCarthy
Dr. Caitlin McCarthy is a board-certified surgeon at Mid-Columbia Medical
Center. One of three general surgeons at the MCMC Surgical Clinic, McCarthy
has specialized training in breast ultrasound, biopsy and oncoplastic
surgical techniques, which combine the best cancer surgery with an aesthetically-pleasing outcome.
The Columbia Gorge was a natural fit for Dr. McCarthy, who grew up in a
small town in Wyoming, and developed a love for the Northwest while attending
medical school in Seattle.
Dr. McCarthy is an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys horseback riding, hiking,
white water rafting, skiing, and traveling. She joined MCMC in 2015, after
relocating to the Gorge with her husband to be closer to family.
A general surgeon, her special interests are breast surgery for cancer
and benign disease, as well as minimally invasive laparoscopy, which includes
foregut (stomach) antireflux procedures, colorectal procedures, gallbladder
and more. She is also trained in thyroid and parathyroid disease and is
working toward an advanced certification for breast imaging, biopsy and
partial breast radiation