I once met a gentleman in his 80s who was a farmer. Otherwise healthy, he had developed diarrhea that wouldn’t go away. It was so bad he was becoming malnourished and was in danger of dying. He’d been to see other doctors in the community, but no one had made a diagnosis or fixed the problem. I was able to figure out what was going on and treat his condition, which was caused by a bacterial overgrowth. Soon he was feeling better and went back to life on his farm, spending time out in the fields and baling hay. He enjoyed that part of his life immensely, and it felt really good to be able to give that back to him.
My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1993. At the time, she was treated with a breakthrough therapy that saved her life — she lived another 15 years until the cancer came back. It made me appreciate how important the research side of medicine is. That medical advance gave her time she otherwise wouldn’t have had. Going through that experience with my mom also taught me the value of what I call “ being well held.” Patients and families need someone on their care team who is going to help them navigate a complicated, often fragmented medical system. Communicating that you really care, that you’re going to be a partner for patients and families through tough times, is just as important as providing technical expertise.
Area of clinical practice
High risk prevention
Gastrointestinal cancers, gastrointestinal problems related to cancer treatment
I specialize in the care of patients experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems who also currently have cancer or who have been treated for it. My expertise also includes working with people who have genetic conditions that increase the likelihood they may develop GI cancers. I serve as the medical director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Prevention Program at Fred Hutch. This program provides assessment, screening and prevention strategies for people at high risk of developing GI cancers due to genetic predisposition (family history) or other factors.
At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, I lead a lab that studies the biology of gastrointestinal cancers, with a focus on colon cancer and esophageal cancer. Our goal is to better understand how gene mutations and changes in the way genes are expressed drive the behavior and progression of these cancers. We also seek to identify biomarkers that could be used to detect cancer early, when it’s most treatable, or identify healthy tissue at high risk of becoming cancerous. Ideally, doctors could use this information to tailor prevention tests and therapies. My colleagues and I are currently leading several clinical trials for people at high risk of developing hereditary GI cancers.
University of Michigan
University of Michigan
University of Washington, General Internal Medicine
University of Washington, Gastroenterology; Case Western Reserve University, Gastroenterology
Gastroenterology, 1997; Internal Medicine, 1993, American Board of Internal Medicine
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.