What I enjoy most about my job is my relationships with patients, spending time with them and listening to their stories. Many of my patients have never seen a psychiatrist before. Some have been dealing with mental health issues for a long time, unable to get the help they deserve because it can be difficult to access psychiatric care within the community. For example, I once worked with a patient whose severe depression stretched back years to a time before she’d been diagnosed with cancer. Eventually, with a lot of support and dedication, she came out of her depression. When her cancer went into remission, she was able to get a new job that was better suited to her life goals. She felt like a new woman. It’s very fulfilling to witness people making a variety of meaningful changes in their lives, whether they’re in the midst of treatment, facing end-of-life or moving on to survivorship.
Cancer can cause a tremendous amount of anxiety; sometimes it can feel like the experience of being sick has hijacked your life and the person you used to be. I aim to help you minimize the negative impact of cancer as much as possible so that you can reclaim your life — or perhaps even make it better. Together, we can explore ways to help you experience joy despite cancer, improve the health of your personal relationships and participate in as many of the activities that make your life meaningful as possible. My approach to care is collaborative and centered on your perspective and goals. I see it as my job to offer information and guidance so that you feel empowered to choose the treatments and approaches that are the best fit for you.
Psychiatric care and psychotherapy for patients with cancer and other illnesses
I am a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in caring for patients who have cancer and other medical illnesses. I work with people who are receiving outpatient services at Fred Hutch as well as those who are hospitalized at UW Medical Center. My expertise includes psychotherapy, medication management and cognitive evaluations as well as the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of mental health problems. I also help patients address lifestyle factors that can affect their well-being, such as social connectedness, exercise and sleep. My goal is to help you achieve the best quality of life possible.
All Cancer Types
University of Oklahoma School of Medicine
University of Washington School of Medicine, Psychiatry
University of Washington School of Medicine, Psychosomatic Medicine
Psychiatry, 2016; Psychosomatic Medicine, 2017, American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology
MPH, University of Oklahoma
Seattle Met's 2020 Top Doctors Award
Dr. Ruark has been recognized as a Top Doctor in Seattle Met's annual survey.
We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by Fred Hutch doctors. Many of these trials at Fred Hutch have led to FDA-approved treatments and have improved standards of care globally. Together, you and your doctor can decide if a study is right for you.
At Fred Hutch, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a patient care coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.
Fred Hutch accepts most national private health insurance plans as well as Medicare. We also accept Medicaid for people from Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. We are working to ensure that everyone, no matter what their financial situation, has access to the care they need.