Patient Stories

Suse Skinner, 70, who is receiving treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia at OHSU, talks with Drs. Brian Druker and Uma Borate. (OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)

Search for stories by cancer type

Brain tumors

Surviving brain tumors decades apart

Ruth Marie Jones had a brain tumor as an infant and tumors in a bone above her right eye at age 5. Forty years later, a new brain tumor was found. Jones says neurosurgery and high-tech radiation therapy at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute have been the key to helping her stay active in her church and community. Read Jones' story.

Breast cancer

Thriving with love, wisdom and gratitude

Pamela Feidelson_120x150

Pamela Feidelson's cancer journey began at a routine check-up with her gynecologist. At 38, three words changed her life: You have cancer. After three months of chemotherapy, a mastectomy, reconstruction and several hairstyles, she is cancer-free. It's been almost 10 years since her diagnosis, and she says she no longer thinks about cancer every day. Knowing how precious life is, though, she fills hers with love, wisdom and gratitude. Read more.

Colon cancer

A colonoscopy “could save your life”

Angie Laroche - OHSU Knight Cancer patient story

After Angie Laroche was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer at age 40, she decided to share her story to encourage others to seek treatment sooner. Laroche had noticed changes but was embarrassed to talk to her doctor. By the time she went in for a colonoscopy, she had colon cancer that had spread to her liver. She found a care team she trusts at the Knight Cancer Institute but knows how important early detection can be. Read more about Laroche.

Colon cancer during pregnancy at 29

Michelle Barnes - Knight Cancer Institute patient story

Michelle Barnes of Medford was 29 and just shy of 20 weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Her doctors referred her to OHSU, where teams of specialists arranged surgery to remove her tumor and protect her pregnancy. Read Barnes’ story.

Head and neck cancer

Grateful for robotic surgery

Richard Brack - Knight Cancer Institute patient story
Richard Brack and his wife were building a retirement home on the Oregon coast in 2013 when he was diagnosed with cancer at the base of his tongue. His doctor at the Knight Cancer Institute recommended trans-oral robotic surgery through his mouth, sparing him from needing a large neck incision and split jawbone. Read more about Brack’s care and follow-up.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Finding “nuggets of beauty”

Brianna Barett - Knight Cancer Institute patient story
Brianna Barrett had an unusual reaction when her doctor called to tell her she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The 24-year-old picked up her camera and started filming a documentary series, “Cancerland.” Read how Barrett turned having cancer into a way to find “nuggets of beauty” and how she found comfort in OHSU’s support group for young adults with cancer. See her documentary series on YouTube.

Surviving after a diagnosis at age 23

Stephanie Anderson - Knight Cancer Institute patient story
Being diagnosed with nodular sclerosis Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 23 - with no health insurance - made Stephanie Anderson feel like she was on a roller coaster. Her care team at the Knight Cancer Institute and community cancer clinic in Gresham helped her feel strong and encouraged. Knight social workers helped her arrange financial aid. Read Anderson’s story.

Leukemia

My life's been given back to me



When Robert Shick was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in 2005, he thought he’d been given a death sentence. Instead, he manages his illness with a pill - Gleevec - pioneered through the work of OHSU’s Dr. Brian Druker, now the director of the Knight Cancer Institute. Shick has channeled his gratitude into passionate advocacy for the institute, serving on the Knight Cancer Institute Council and helping to raise millions of dollars. Learn more about Shick.

Fighting cancer with Matt’s Army

Matt McCallum

Matt McCallum was training for a  half marathon when he was hit with exhaustion, headaches and body pains. He was  diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2014 and underwent a bone marrow  transplant at OHSU. Gabi, his fiancee, organized a Facebook group called Matt’s  Army to surround McCallum with support. Read about McCallum’s treatment at the Knight Cancer Institute,  how he found a marrow match, and what he and Gabi are up to now.

Among the first to try Gleevec

LaDonna and Dr. Druker - Knight Cancer Institute patient story
LaDonna Lopossa was in hospice care and preparing to die back in 1999 when her husband went to the store to pick up a newspaper. The paper contained a small article about an OHSU clinical trial for a medication now called Gleevec. Lopossa, who has CML, took her first dose in February 2000. Within a month, she felt like she was recovering. Read more about Lopossa and how she has thrived with Gleevec.

“I had Gleevec”



Katie Knudson was diagnosed with CML at age 6, one month after the Food and Drug Administration approved Gleevec. Now a young woman, Knudson credits the Knight Cancer Institute and Dr. Brian Druker for enabling her to survive cancer and to thrive as an athlete, dancer and student.

Aiming for the Ironman

Ed McLaughlin - Knight Cancer patient story
Ed McLaughlin was a marathon runner with plans to compete in an Ironman triathlon when cancer broke his stride. He was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in 2008. He started taking Gleevec, the groundbreaking medication developed by Dr. Brian Druker at OHSU. Even so, Druker wasn’t sure McLaughlin would ever gain the stamina to run another marathon, let alone compete in the Ironman. McLaughlin had other ideas. Read more.

A performance to remember



Suse Skinner lights up the room with her smile,  positivity and humor. A breast cancer survivor, she is now battling acute  myeloid leukemia. In August 2016, she was admitted to OHSU for her first  induction chemotherapy session, where she underwent 24/7 chemotherapy for six  days followed by six weeks of recovery. Skinner wrote and performed the song,  "The Good Ship OHSU" to show her gratitude to everyone on her care  team: the nurses; Dr. Uma Borate and Dr. Rachel Cook; the cafeteria staff; and the people  who kept her room "comfortable and clean." Read more.

Liver cancer

Partnership with Salem Cancer Center

When Deborah Hansen was diagnosed with liver cancer at the Salem Cancer Center, her oncologist knew where to send her for surgery: the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. Because the Salem center and OHSU are partners, the referral was especially easy. Read Hansen’s story.

Lung cancer

The hope of targeted therapy

Lung Cancer - Patient story

Jodi Whitton's family took her to a hospital to be treated for what they thought was  a bad case of pneumonia. Instead she learned she had Stage IV lung cancer. The  attending doctor offered little hope, advising her to go into hospice care. Joe  Whitton, Jodi's husband of 48 years, was unwilling to accept the news: "If  she wasn't here, I don't know what I'd do. I'd be lost." The couple  decided to seek a second opinion. The Whittons turned to OHSU where they met  with Dr. Gary  Takahashi.  Today, Jodi Whitten is cancer-free. Read more.

Melanoma (skin cancer)

Turning the tide against tanning

Katie Wilkes - Knight cancer patient story
As a teenager, Katie Wilkes was so self-conscious about her pale skin that she begged her mom to let her go to a tanning salon. Before long, she was going two or three times a week. Then at age 23, she was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. Read about how Wilkes, an OHSU community relations program manager, channeled her illness and recovery into activism.

Sharing his story to help others

Shon Ramey - Knight cancer patient story
Shon Ramey paid little attention to skin protection growing up north of Seattle and later living in the Middle East and Texas. Then he was diagnosed with melanoma in 2007. That began a series of skin cancer diagnoses and surgeries. Read how Ramey ended up seeking care at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute in 2014 and how he decided to share his story to help others.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Getting back to biking

Allan McGuire - Knight cancer patient story
Alan McGuire-Dale survived a pancreatic tumor caused by non-Hodgkins lymphoma with surgery and chemotherapy at the Knight Cancer Institute. With help from a program to help cancer patients get back into fitness activities, McGuire-Dale returned to biking even before he was done with chemo. Read his story.

Prostate cancer

“I’m going to fight this thing as long as I can”



Bryce Olson was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2014 at age 45. Since then, the Intel executive, husband and father of a young daughter has been on a quest to not only live longer but to help the Knight Cancer Institute find breakthroughs for other patients. Read more about Olson, his care at the Knight Cancer Institute, and about Intel’s partnership with OHSU to speed up tumor analysis so cancers can be targeted at the molecular level.

“I believe attitude is everything”

Rick Dancer was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010 at age 50. He documented his treatment at the Knight Cancer Institute in this 2013 six-part video series. His therapy included state-of-the-art Calypso radiation therapy.

Enjoying grandchildren and great-grandchildren

Bob Chamberlain - Knight cancer story
When Bob Chamberlain was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1982, he didn’t think he would live long enough to see grandchildren. He recovered and was diagnosed again in 2007. Now he credits Dr. Thomasz Beer, the deputy director at the Knight Cancer Institute, and his other care providers with helping him return to a happy life. One with both grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Read Chamberlain’s story.

Knight Cancer doctor “gave me hope”

Randy Boles - Knight cancer patient story
Randy Boles came to the Knight Cancer Institute for treatment of his prostate cancer after unsuccessful treatment elsewhere. The Knight doctors gave him confidence in his treatment direction and helped him feel like he was never fighting cancer alone. Learn more about Boles and his care.