2020 Wings of Hope Health Care Award Winner: Dr. Haidy Lee, Radiation Oncologist at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center

Being a radiation oncologist encompasses more than just medical expertise for Dr. Haidy Lee. She believes that connecting with patients, meeting them where they are at, and understanding the challenges and emotions they face are as relevant as their physical diagnosis.

“I believe my job is to offer hope, comfort, and support to every patient I see,” she says.

That support comes in many forms—finding the best possible treatment path, providing a wealth of information, and offering a listening ear when patients need to talk.

When Haidy was in medical school, radiation therapy was her favorite part of her oncology rotation. It provided her the opportunity to see the same patients every day and form relationships with them.

“As a medical student, you don’t typically get to see the same patient more than once. I immediately knew radiation oncology was where I wanted to be,” Dr. Lee says.

Radiation therapy, like most aspects of oncology, has evolved immensely over the last 10-20 years as technology has improved. Dr. Lee is now able to treat tumors with precision and efficiency, with little to no side effects.

“We can shape the radiation dose to exactly what we want so that we target just the tumor, and we don’t treat healthy tissue that we want to avoid,” she says. “We can change the shape of the radiation beam, so we can get a very conformal treatment where we couldn’t do that before.”

Dr. Lee says she is honored to be the 2020 recipient of the Oregon Cancer Foundation’s Wings of Hope Award in the Health Care category. She acknowledges that she is just a small part of a highly-skilled and dedicated team offering quality cancer care to patients at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute.

“I work with my team on the plan for the patient, then the dosimetrists create the plan, and our physicist checks it. Once I approve it, then our radiation therapists are the ones who deliver the treatment to our patients each day,” she says. “There are a lot of people working on behalf of our patients to give them the best outcome.”