Tri-Cities Cancer Center celebrates 20 years

Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldJune 11, 2014 

Terry Gallagher Cancer

Cancer patient Terry Gallagher of Irrigon, Ore. has been staying in his RV parked at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center in Kennewick during his five weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatment for esophageal cancer. He marks the completion of his treatment by joining a community celebration on June 12, 2014 of the cancer center’s 20th anniversary.

COURTESY TERRY GALLAGHER

KENNEWICK -- Terry Gallagher will ring a prizefighter bell at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center in Kennewick at 5 p.m. today, marking the end of five weeks of treatment there for esophageal cancer.

It will be a moment of personal celebration -- and one that coincides with a community celebration of the cancer center's 20th anniversary.

"I feel that it's a privilege that they'll let me do it as part of their 20th anniversary celebration," said Gallagher, 57, of Irrigon. "They only let you ring that bell when you're done. (Thursday) is my last day. You don't know how happy that makes me."

The nonprofit cancer center on West Deschutes Avenue is a partnership of Trios Health, Kadlec Regional Medical Center and Lourdes Health Network. It has campus partners in Tri-Cities Laboratory and Columbia Basin Hematology & Oncology, and provides a range of cancer treatment and support services.

The open house will run from 4 to 6 p.m., with tours available.

The event "is a nice to way reacquaint our community with what we are, who we are and where we're headed," said Chuck DeGooyer, who helped guide formation of the cancer center 20 years ago and returned last fall to serve as CEO.

"We want to thank the community for the support they have given this fine cancer center for the first 20 years of its existence," DeGooyer told the Herald, adding that while it's owned by the local hospitals, it also belongs to the community.

Gallagher, who was diagnosed with cancer in March and has been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, said the physicians and other staffers he's dealt with have been great.

And Gallagher has made an impression with his lively personality, inspiring -- for example -- a Hawaiian shirt day. "He's been one of those people who have been so uplifting to our team and really inspired them," DeGooyer said.

Gallagher isn't finished with his cancer fight. He'll undergo surgery in Seattle in August.

But he's looking forward to ringing the bell. "I did a little boxing as a young man. I do know that it's just round one. I will feel beat up, but good," he said. "I will survive this.

"This is a speed bump in my life."

The cancer center is at 7350 W. Deschutes Ave.

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