Top Cancer Hospital Gives Hope to Patients and Family

Dr. Brad Whitcomb
Dr. Brad Whitcomb
Mary Whitcomb
Mary Whitcomb
Nick Whitcomb
Nick Whitcomb

SALT LAKE (KHNL) - Tripler Army Medical Center's cancer program is honored by the American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer. The hospital receives a three-year approval with commendation. Only about a quarter of all hospitals receive the honor.

Dr. Brad Whitcomb is an oncology doctor at Tripler Army Medical Center. The recent commendation means the hospital's cancer program is one of the best in the country.

"That lets our patients and our community know that there are many services offered, and that quality services are offered for cancer patients of all types," said Dr. Whitcomb.

Two years ago, his professional and personal lives blurred. His wife Mary was diagnosed with an advanced form of breast cancer, called inflammatory breast cancer.

"I was shocked," said Mary Whitcomb. "I'm a strong woman. I'm 36 years old. Everything's perfect. What's going on?"

The toughest part was telling their kids, Nick, 12, and Alyse, 10.

"But to look at those beautiful eyes that I've been looking at since birth and say, 'I'm not going to be here anymore.' That's the worst."

Mary has gotten stronger, and chemotherapy -- a grueling ordeal -- becomes a supportive journey. Words of encouragement from cancer survivors decorate the ceiling and walls.

"It's just fun if you can even imagine chemotherapy to be fun," said Mary Whitcomb.

Having a husband who's a cancer doctor also helps.

"And it's a feeling of pride for me to be in this hospital that does such a good job and oh my gosh my husband's a part of this," said Mary Whitcomb.

"It has strengthened our family beyond what you could believe," said Dr. Whitcomb.

Also in her corner is her 12-year-old son Nick.

He said he loves his mom "this much," holding up his thumb and forefinger together.

"She taught me that because that means go all the way around the world and back. That much," said Nick Whitcomb.

A love that spans the entire globe.

The Whitcombs are planning a trip to Walt Disney World once Mary's cancer is in remission. They'll also be at the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life at Magic Island this Saturday.