Hey, Cancer: Consider Yourself Warned

Compass Oncology Isn't Playing Around

When discussing cancer, it’s not common for the conversation to wind up covering Hula-Hoop skills, live Hawaiian music, stand-up comedy, and rock bands. But when you spend a few minutes with Bradley Perrigo from Compass Oncology, you find that these topics (and more) are pretty familiar to his team.

As a cancer care practice with an interdisciplinary approach, Compass Oncology’s seven sites offer a full team of physicians—oncologists, hematologists, radiation oncologists, breast and gynecologic oncology surgeons, pathologists, PAs, and more—all focused on helping patients and families as they journey through the maze of cancer treatments. And though they are the last non-hospital-owned cancer care practice in the Portland-Vancouver metro area, that’s not what they might say makes them unique. According to Brad, it’s the staff: “They’re driven and ambitious, whether at work or at play.”

It certainly takes a special type of professional to help patients deal with the highs and lows of cancer care today: the high costs of cancer drugs, low Medicare reimbursements, finding economic resources for the uninsured and underinsured, and the exciting yet challenging aspects of oral chemotherapy—to name a few. For Brad, working with the people at his practice is his favorite part of the job, due to their compassion for families and patients. Though a cancer diagnosis is not always the death sentence it used to be, the staff is tasked daily with teaching patients about living life with a new idea of normal—even if they go about it in a non-normal sort of way.

“At summer events, we used to put our physicians in the dunk tank to help raise money for patients needing extra help,” says Perrigo. “Today, on a daily basis, patients love to hear our nurses laughing as they go about their work,” says Perrigo. “And the patients themselves start laughing when the nurses put on their gowns and gloves to pump the chemotherapy. The nurses kind of look like Smurfs.”

There is something special about oncologists. They have an insatiable desire to keep going, keep researching, and keep learning—all because they want a better outcome for the patient. They are tireless and driven, yet tender and compassionate.

They’re also the kind of people whose idea of letting their hair down at the annual holiday party involves not just a talent show, but a competitive event for charity. That’s where Brad finds out about his staff’s hidden talents. “One supervisor is incredible with a Hula-Hoop, a radiation therapist does a terrific Andy Williams impersonation, and one of our pathologists moonlights in a Hawaiian music band (and he’s not even Hawaiian)!”

And if you watched TODAY last September, you might have seen and heard Dr. Winter and his rock band N.E.D. (which stands for “No Evidence of Disease”). Members are gynecologic oncologists performing original music to empower women stricken by cancer.

Suffice it to say, you don’t have to look hard within Compass Oncology’s nearly 350 staff and physicians to find talented, driven, mission-focused professionals. That’s pretty typical of Physicians Insurance members, and the Compass crowd is no exception.