A Place to Heal

“2016 was the best year of my life!” Bill Norris emphatically declared sitting in his beautiful Valley Club home with his wife, Adrian.  “I learned about the quality of American medicine, learned more about myself, grew my spiritual life, and grew my relationships with my friends, my wife, and my family. I grew.” This from a man who had spent his past year going through chemotherapy at the new St. Luke’s Wood River Infusion Center.

Bill first came to Sun Valley with his family when he was 10 years old on the train from Pomona, California.  Since his first visit, the Wood River Valley has held a special place in his heart. An unsuccessful congressional bid in 1968 changed his course and prompted him to make the Wood River Valley his home. He relocated his family and began working for Bill Janss, then owner of Sun Valley Company, selling real estate.  Now, many years later Norris is, “doing the exact same thing I was doing back then.”

Local legends and generous philanthropists in the Sun Valley community, Bill and Adrian have served on numerous nonprofit boards and committees throughout the years. Always ready to give to others, they found themselves in need of help when Bill was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. “That first diagnosis was like getting hit with a two-by-four. Then, after the bone scan, I learned it had metastasized, another two-by-four.”

Initially they saw St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute’s medical oncologist, Dan Zuckerman, in Boise. Dr. Zuckerman gave Bill and Adrian his recommended chemotherapy protocol and suggested they get a second opinion as well.  The head of the UCSF Cancer Department confirmed Dr. Zuckerman’s protocol. Bill began his treatments at St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute in Twin Falls and then continued his treatments at the new St. Luke’s Wood River Infusion Center.

Thanks to tremendous community generosity, St. Luke’s Wood River opened a new state-of-the-art Infusion Center last year. Over $1 million in community philanthropy made the center a reality in July 2016. The new space doubled the hospital’s capacity for care and dramatically improved the patient experience.  The center echoes the natural beauty of the Wood River community by incorporating natural light and scenic views.

“It was like going into an airport Sky Club lounge: warm, inviting, well organized—you knew you were in good hands in the Infusion Center,” Bill explained. “I got way more than I deserved. The attention, no waiting times, compassion, quality of care and love. I couldn’t believe I was entitled to get such great care.”

Recalling his treatments, which consisted of six infusion treatments over eighteen weeks, the couple agreed it was much easier than expected.  Adrian offered, “We didn’t let it slow us down, didn’t let it impede our normal life. We went to the gym, played tennis, and played golf.” Bill was told that with chemotherapy he may not feel up to his daily four- to five-mile runs, but Bill made himself go to the gym daily.  “Sometimes I would get there and I could only workout for 10 minutes, but I showed up. I tried every day.”

Overall, Bill and Adrian said that they were prepared for cancer, chemotherapy treatments—everything—to be much worse than it was.  Perhaps their experience was made better by the ease of getting treatments close to home, or the warm and welcoming environment of the St. Luke’s Wood River Infusion Center, or the quality of care they received, or due to Bill’s great athletic condition when he began treatments.  Or perhaps it was all of these important aspects coming together in his treatment and care.  Bill recalled his time at the Infusion Center with pleasure: “My friends would come in to see and visit with me during treatments. I’ve never had that much time with my friends. Personally, I don’t remember having such a fulfilling year.”

“After my last treatment in November, I instantly walked right over to the St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation and made a donation. It was my way of claiming my healing.”