Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center is pleased to welcome breast cancer specialist Kylie Kang, MD, to the proton therapy facility.
Kang became interested in oncology through a genomic sciences class during her undergraduate studies. She also has a personal connection to cancer — both her mother and grandmother had breast cancer — which fueled her decision to pursue medicine. While in medical school at Case Western Reserve University, she discovered radiation oncology and took an interest in the interface between technology and biology and its multidisciplinary, collaborative focus.
Kang gained experience in proton therapy when she took a research year at Massachusetts General in Boston after graduation, specifically looking at proton therapy for central nervous system tumors.
“It’s a valuable tool in our repertoire of treatment options to target both benign and malignant tumors,” she said.
What Kang is looking forward to most at Fred Hutch is being part of a system offering leading-edge oncologic care.
“I am also excited to work with my colleagues here, and to have access to state-of-the-art technology and clinical trials,” Kang said. “I am looking forward to doing research focusing on improving treatment efficacy and decreasing toxicity, expediting care and improving clinical outcomes using different treatment modalities.”
Living on the West Coast will be a new experience for Kang. She was born in Korea but spent most of her life on the East Coast and in the Midwest. She has enjoyed her time in Seattle so far. According to Kang, it’s a mix of good and diverse food options and beautiful nature. She also loves spending time outdoors and she and her husband, David, have set a goal of visiting all of the U.S. national parks. They’ve visited almost a third of all parks so far and Washington state provides three more to add to the goal.
Right now, her favorites are Zion National Park in Utah, for its striking vistas, Acadia National Park in Maine, and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
Have suggestions on the best times to visit Mt. Rainier, Olympic or North Cascades national parks? Please let Kang know when you see her at the proton therapy facility.
Fred Hutch sarcoma expert Stephanie Schaub, MD, who treats both adults and children, is taking on another role at the proton therapy facility: Proton Fellowship Program Director. She assumes the role from Smith Apisarnthanarax, MD, who has led this program for several years. It is one of only a handful of programs like it in the United States.
A fellowship is an opportunity for physicians to expand their knowledge in a specific field and involves a year of training and comprehensive education. The proton therapy facility accepts one fellow per year. According to Schaub, an ideal candidate is someone who is interested in expanding their repertoire of treatment tools and to engage in research and education in the field of proton therapy.
At Fred Hutch, the proton fellowship foucses on all diseases treated but can be customized to place emphasis on the particular interest of the fellow. Fellows will also have dedicated time to do their own research.
“We want our fellows to be able to treat any disease site they may encounter in their future careers,” Schaub said. “Knowing how proton therapy works in all parts of the body will help physicians better figure out what the strengths and limitations of protons are in a given case, and how to creatively configure the best possible treatment plan. We want them to take balanced perspectives on how we evaluate patients, including, importantly, when we choose not to use protons.”
As program director, Schaub will recruit and interview applicants and develop a personalized curriculum for each individual. She will also provide mentorship and be a resource to the fellows.
“I’m looking forward to furthering our educational mission within the department and witnessing the personal growth of our fellows. I want to give them the most rewarding experience,” she said. “We learn a lot from our fellows as well. It’s always good to have another perspective.”
Schaub has established herself as an accomplished clinical leader in pediatric and adult sarcoma cancers and was awarded the Rising Star and Seattle Met Top Doctor awards in 2022 and 2023. She has served on the DEI Education subcommittee and DEI Healthcare Equity subcommittee at UW Medicine and is a member of the ASTRO Education Committee for Pediatrics and ASTRO Sarcoma and Cutaneous Track Committee.
by Laura Buono, RD, CSO, CNSC
Some cancer treatments can impact your appetite, how foods taste, and how your gut feels. With Thanksgiving around the corner, here are some helpful tips to enjoy dinner while providing cancer-fighting nutritious foods to fuel your body through treatment. These tips can also be useful information to keep in mind throughout the year.
If you are receiving radiation to the head or neck, you might need to focus on soft foods, like mashed potatoes or soups. These can make chewing and swallowing easier when you are sore. Also, taste changes can be a common side effect of treatment, so you may want to strengthen the flavor of your meal by adding tart, tangy or sour flavors, like lemon, cranberries or vinegar. If you are experiencing dry mouth, extra sauces and gravies can make it easier to tolerate some foods. To keep turkey moist and easier to swallow, try braising it with this recipe.
If your gut is acting up, many traditional Thanksgiving foods are appropriate to help with diarrhea. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, chestnuts and turkey breast all can help with loose stools, but you’ll want to limit the intake of high fat items (like gravy and cream) and certain vegetables (such as green beans and Brussels sprouts).
When your appetite is low, try using a smaller plate so that your meal doesn’t feel overwhelming.
If you are going through treatment, you are probably not hosting Thanksgiving dinner. However, if you know your host well, you might suggest they add some dishes with these beneficial nutrients to the menu: cranberries, cruciferous vegetables, greens, pumpkin, sweet potato and nuts. If you are bringing a side dish, steer towards some of these healthy, treatment-friendly recipes from Fred Hutch’s Cook for Your Life:
Finally, consider that certain treatments might impact your ability to fight foodborne pathogens (food poisoning), so it’s important to keep food safety in mind. The leading cause of foodborne illness is eating fresh or unpreserved food that's been in a temperature range between 40°F and 140°F for more than two hours. This range is called the "danger zone" because bacteria can grow very rapidly at these temperatures. To help prevent foodborne illness, it is important to keep hot foods at 140°F or higher and cold foods at 40°F or lower, until you are ready to eat.
You can find additional food safety information for the holidays from Fred Hutch Medical Nutrition Therapy Services here.
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