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Willing Commute to Fremont for Breast Cancer Treatment

Willing Commute to Fremont for Breast Cancer Treatment

A Retired Washington Hospital Employee Shares Her Story

Though Faith Rasmussen retired to Grass Valley in 2016, she made trips back to Fremont to continue seeing her primary care physician (PCP) and getting annual mammograms at the Washington Women’s Center. Being active and healthy at age 69, she never expected what happened in July 2022 – a breast cancer diagnosis.

“Tending to our garden and chickens keeps me busy, and I eat fresh organic food that we grow on our property,” said Faith. “But my doctor had been warning I was at risk for cancer because I’d been taking estrogen since my hysterectomy at age 39.”

It all started last year when Faith was found to have a benign breast tumor. That prompted more frequent checks, then a suspicious shadow on a mammogram and subsequent biopsy confirmed a small cancerous lesion had formed. Washington Hospital utilizes advanced 3D mammography called tomosynthesis to find breast cancer earlier and more often than with traditional 2D mammograms.

In August of this year, Faith underwent lumpectomy surgery. “I am really lucky the tumor was found when it was still small, and that I had such a great surgeon,” she said. Her procedure was performed by William Dugoni, MD, who also serves as medical director of Washington Women’s Center. The surgery went well and next up was radiation therapy to reduce the risk of cancer returning to the area.

“All my treatments have gone well and everyone at Washington Hospital has been wonderful during this truly unique experience. I’ve had other surgeries before, but with a cancer diagnosis, there is a team of people who explain everything and help you each step of the way.” Faith’s team included UCSF Health physicians, hematologist-oncologist Carlton Scharman, MD, and radiation oncologist Emi Yoshida, MD. Nurse navigator, Christine Mikkelsen, RN, scheduled all her appointments, provided referrals to appropriate support services, and answered all her questions in person and on the phone.

Because Faith’s Grass Valley retirement home is a three-hour drive from Fremont, Dr. Yoshida arranged for her radiation treatments at the Radiation Oncology Center (ROC) to be completed over a condensed one-week period, two times daily. Faith talks about how there are closer medical centers to her in Sacramento, Yuba City, and at UC Davis, but she is happy she chose to commute back to Washington Hospital where, after working there for 33 years, she feels confident in her providers and comfortable at the Hospital she knows so well.

Faith lived in Fremont and worked as a clerk in Washington Hospital’s Staffing and Emergency Departments (ED) for more than three decades before moving to Grass Valley. “When I worked in the ED, it was obviously a busy environment, but everyone worked so well together, and it’s good to see that nothing has changed.”

Faith, who now enjoys living on several acres with her husband and near her daughter and son-in-law, reports she’s feeling good and ready to move on with her life. Looking back on her experience, she recalls one trip to Fremont to see her PCP. She was reading an article her doctor gave her about a Washington Hospital OB-GYN who herself developed breast cancer. “She had such a positive attitude about her cancer and it helped inspire me to do the same! Like hers, my message to others is make sure to keep up with your annual mammograms. After having cancer, I want other women diagnosed with it to be as lucky as I was and make it as good an experience as possible.”

For more information about Washington Women’s Center and its breast health program, go online to or once you have a physician order, call 510.818.7410 to schedule a mammogram. To read more about Dr. Yoshida or the Washington ROC, visit And to learn more about the UCSF - Washington Cancer Center, visit