Meet the Board: Samatra Doyle
Samatra Doyle joined our Board of Directors in 2020. She is an oncology ARNP at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) with eleven years of experience caring for cancer patients. Sam definitely understands our mission of ‘Facing Cancer Together’ and she was willing to share her perspectives on why it’s so important for Cancer Pathways to support patients and their loved ones and give them a voice.
Before her current position at SCCA, Sam worked for six years in the Oncology/Bone Marrow Transplant Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at UW, where they specialize in treating oncology patients in need of critical care.
One of the things that was so special about this unit is that patients could have as much family as they wanted there. Children were welcome, and there were no set visiting hours. After COVID-19 required more restrictions, patients and staff alike felt the effect. Sam shared:
“[Having family members present] was one of the things that really helped people pull through… patients were less delirious and more able to tolerate being so ill.”
We know how important social and emotional support is, and are looking forward to the day when visiting regulations return to normal and family members can visit patients in critical care.
However, some pandemic-inspired changes might stick around, and for a good reason. While some care will always need to be delivered in person, Sam believes that we have the ability to increase access to certain types of healthcare through telemedicine:
“Virtual visits became a necessity during this pandemic, and I’m curious to see how they could become the norm for a larger percentage of visits in the future. Barriers to accessing care in rural areas and underserved communities could be somewhat decreased by allowing virtual visits–in addition to having benefits beyond those communities, for all patients.”
Telehealth may be especially beneficial for cancer patients and anyone who is immune-compromised. Sam excitedly described how a patient could live in a rural area and still meet with their oncologist – an appointment that they previously might have had to board an airplane for. She is also excited about the possibility that telehealth – in oncology and otherwise – could result in increased and improved access to healthcare for many patients.
Sam’s unique perspective grows from not only being an oncology ARNP but also from being a parent of three children. We got to hear how she feels about Cancer Pathways’ programs for kids touched by cancer:
“In the medical setting, the focus is so much on the patient, obviously, that you don’t really hear the kid’s voice. In our programs, you can hear the kid’s experience, what they are going through. What is it like to see your mom have a port? What is it like to see your dad be bald, or throwing up, or just not the parent they were before they had cancer?
In Cancer Pathways’ programs, children can be treated and respected as children and have their experiences centered, as they should be.”
The youth programs offered by Cancer Pathways include Camp Sparkle, for kids aged 5-12, Cancer Unwrapped Teen Writing Contest for teens in grades 9-12, and Cancer Happens, our cancer education and risk reduction program for teens and adolescents.
Sam knows that at Cancer Pathways, we seek to create an environment where young people can speak and be heard. We want them to be able to open up about their feelings and experiences dealing with cancer and connect with others who have similar experiences. She continued:
“It’s not always tragic. Sometimes, it’s just helping them roll with the punches of what cancer treatment involves and what it looks like. Regular kid spaces like school or sports teams don’t provide space for kids to talk about that, much less talk with another kid who might have had it happen to them. It’s so important that Cancer Pathways gives them that space to connect with kids who have the same experience so they don’t have to hold it all alone.”
We agree. To learn more, you can explore our programs.
We are so happy Sam took the time to speak with us, and we are even happier that she is a member of our board. We are looking forward to working together in the coming years.
In addition to her job and position on our board, Sam is married to her wife April; together, they enjoy exploring local AirBnBs and traveling when their jobs and parenting allow. She loves to ride her Peloton, to cook and bake with her 3 children and her stepdaughter, and together they own and care for a small flock of chickens and a 3-year-old Goldendoodle named ‘Clifford’.
Thank you, Sam, for the time you give to Cancer Pathways and for her dedication to all your patients at SCCA.