Puyallup Tribe
The Puyallup Tribe’s new Salish Integrative Oncology Care Center in Fife, Washington.

Blending Modern and Traditional—Puyallup Tribe Opens Oncology Center

Richard Walker

This is the new look of cancer treatment: A blend of modern oncology and natural healing through lifestyle, nutrition, and traditional methods such as acupuncture, botanical medicines, and naturopathy. To help instill serenity and peace of mind, chemotherapy treatment rooms offer views of majestic Mount Rainier. Outdoor treatment areas will be available in spring and summer.

The Puyallup Tribe’s new Salish Integrative Oncology Care Center—believed to be the first cancer care center owned by a Native nation—is located on the first floor of the Puyallup Tribe-owned Trans Pacific building, at the Interstate 5/Port of Tacoma exit in Fife, Washington.

The center is the result of Puyallup’s purchase of the Seattle Cancer Treatment & Wellness Center, which was owned and operated by Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Puyallup moved the rebranded care center into 8,200 square feet of space in the Trans Pacific building. The care center is staffed by board-certified medical oncologists and naturopathic oncologists, as well as natural and complementary cancer care practitioners.

“As the indigenous keepers of the Puyallup Tribe Indian Reservation, we have a strong ancestral bond with nature and creation,” Puyallup Tribe Chairman Bill Sterud said in an announcement of the care center’s evolution March 19.

“We believe that natural healing through traditional roots, berries, herbs and traditional healing can blend with modern oncology practices. It is with the foundation of ‘integrative medicine’ that the Puyallup Tribe has hired many of the former providers of Seattle Cancer Treatment & Wellness Center. We are building upon traditional oncology—chemotherapy, radiation and other pharmaceutical treatments—with whole-person integrative medicine, such as naturopathy, Native American treatments, acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.”

Medical oncologist Dr. Paolo Paciucci said he’s “very excited” to work in a setting that is different from that of compartmentalized and institutionalized models of larger oncology centers.

“I have come to appreciate the kindness, humanistic and personal care that is delivered by this group of practitioners, nurses, coordinators, patient navigators whose foremost goal is that of delivering individualized and compassionate state-of-the-art medicine,” Paciucci said.

“We all know that one does not cure ailments with infusions of drugs only. The friendly atmosphere, the attentive dedication of a team of professionals, the concurrent treatments imparted by a group of exceptional naturopathic practitioners helps shatter the negative mythology associated with cancer and its often fearful implications.”

Kim M. Sunner, administrator of Salish Integrative Oncology Care Center, moved over from Cancer Treatment Centers of America. She said the Puyallup Tribe’s Puyallup Tribal Health Authority has an “established proven success record that mixes traditional and natural healing,” and that Salish Integrative wants to build upon that reputation.

The health authority’s Takopid Health Center offers culturally appropriate medical and wellness care. It is staffed by 11 board-certified physicians and a nurse practitioner and provides elder care, prenatal care, preventive care, and urgent care; chronic disease management and pain management; lab/X-ray, pharmacy, and podiatry.

The health authority also provides dental services, behavioral health care, drug and alcohol treatment, counseling, and cultural services.

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