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Yakima Valley Memorial Imaging Services and North Star Lodge guide woman through cancer journey

Nancy Welo takes good care of herself. She eats healthy. She walks almost every day. Her Lhasa Apso, Harry, helps by nudging her out the door. "I've always tried to stay in good shape," she says. She stays in touch with friends and family. "I talk to one of my sisters back east just about every day."

The slim, blonde 65-year-old is calm as she rests on a gurney, waiting for a CT scan at Yakima Valley Memorial hospital. Nancy's used to them now. She gets one every six months.

She suffered ongoing intestinal problems in 2014, but didn't think she needed a doctor. "I was stubborn," she says, "I thought it would go away." Finally Nancy got so weak her husband, Thomas, called an ambulance. Tests showed she had colon cancer and Nancy underwent emergency surgery.

Nancy's oncologist at North Star Lodge cancer care center then recommended that she be scanned regularly to detect any signs of cancer that might recur. When a scan found cancerous spots on her lung and liver a year later, Nancy took it in stride. "I come from a line of tough North Dakota farmers. We do not quit." Soon it was time for chemotherapy. Nancy's team at North Star Lodge guided her through the process. It didn't take her long to regain her strength.

North Star sees more than 5,000 patients a year and offers patients the latest in therapies through clinical trials. In addition to providing patients in the Yakima Valley with complete oncology care, there are also physical therapy, counseling and education services. A team of providers is assigned to guide and support each patient through treatment.

Nancy says the North Star building, designed to resemble a mountain lodge, is a form of therapy all in itself with beautiful gardens, rustic stone walls, timbered ceilings and the soothing sound of water falling over the rocks outside. "North Star Lodge is very calming. Just the look of the place!

"I was treated incredibly well there." And Nancy would know, because she's worked at clinics and hospitals for most of her life. She believes the healthy habits she learned over the years have benefitted her during treatment.

But the most important thing, she says — is go to the doctor when you're sick and take the tests they recommend. "I'm so very, very grateful I can get these scans at Yakima Valley Memorial. They give me a fighting chance."

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