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Celebrating Survival: Move in wake of cancer diagnosis a ‘leap of faith’

Longtime Whidbey General Hospital employee Dee Giordan marks 10 years of being cancer free. She was diagnosed with breast cancer as she was preparing to move from Illinois to Whidbey Island.  - Nathan Whalen photo
Longtime Whidbey General Hospital employee Dee Giordan marks 10 years of being cancer free. She was diagnosed with breast cancer as she was preparing to move from Illinois to Whidbey Island.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen photo

As Dee Giordan prepared to move to Whidbey Island 10 years ago, she wasn’t expecting to learn she had breast cancer.

The news put Giordan in a touchy situation about where to receive treatment. Would she remain in Illinois, where she said she felt protected with friends around her? Or, would she move to Whidbey Island, where her husband, Gray, was starting a new job?

“It was a leap of faith,” Giordan said of her move to Washington.

Within four days of her diagnosis, Giordan said she had a lumpectomy completed in Illinois.

A short time later, she moved — as did her treatment — to Washington state.

Her surgeon did some research and found the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, which coordinated for her six months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation therapy.

She has praise for the treatment she received by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. She said the staff was professional with options for chemotherapy. She underwent six weeks of radiation therapy in Sedro Woolley.

Being close to family was also a help. Her son, Dylan, lives in the Seattle area and, at the time, he was raising his young child.

“He was a year old and you forgot about all your troubles when (playing) with him,” Giordan recalled.

After undergoing her surgery and treatment, Giordan eventually started working at Whidbey General Hospital in its Medical Ambulatory Care Clinic, which treats cancer patients.

It was an honor helping patients through the treatment, Giordan said, adding she was surprised that the hospital offers the same  treatment that she underwent years ago.

“I think they’re surprised we can do anything they can do in Seattle,” Giordan said.

Whidbey General Hospital recently unveiled its latest technology, a breast cancer MRI scan system.

The scan system, which cost $32,000, can to take 3D images of breasts. The images allow physicians to view all angles of the scan.

The guided biopsy equipment can be used around the MRI scanner, allowing the area of concern to be targeted with only leaving a nick on the patient’s skin.

Giordan is also involved with charitable efforts that fund research for a cancer cure.

Giordan, along with her husband and three children, came together last May to participate in the annual Relay for Life on Whidbey. The annual event is held at North Whidbey Middle School.

While knocking on wood, Giordan said she’s been cancer-free for 10 years, but still gets annual checkups in case it returns.

“It’s always in the back of your head,” Giordan said.

 

 

— Staff reporter Sara Hansen contributed to this article.

 

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