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Better Together: Inside the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

SEATTLE — The way we treat cancer is changing. In fact, medicine is advancing faster than most of us realize.

And the exciting part is it’s happening right here in our own backyard.

Today, we’re taking you inside the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, where the mission is simple — Better Together.

As the world rushes by along a busy Interstate 5 in Seattle, doctors inside Seattle Cancer Care Alliance are hard at work, changing lives.

Just ask Anita Mitchell.

"All of a sudden you have cancer and you find out it's the last stage," she said.

At 41, Anita was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer.

"I had to raise my kids, I had to be there for my kids," Anita said.

"We have better tests and more effective chemotherapy," said Dr. Alessandro Fichera. "We have new surgical ways to address these diseases."

Ten years after her diagnosis, Anita is now cancer free.

Brock Gates has a similar story.

"They tell me I have leukemia, immediately it was shock. And I had this flash of like, I'm going to die," Brock said.

In 2015, Brock was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia -- a disease that normally affects kids and the elderly.

Doctors at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance opted for a more aggressive treatment and now, two years later, Brock is in remission.

"It makes life real, it makes colors more vibrant," he said. "It makes food taste better when you are faced with the alternate reality."

And pushing boundaries is what Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is known for.

"There are many cures we have access to that are only available here, that aren't in other places," said Dr. Filippo Milano.

Milano is part of the team at SCCA. Formed in 2001, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is a network of care combining the skills, research and expertise from three of the leading medical facilities in the world -- Fred Hutch, Seattle Children's and UW Medicine.

The mission is 'better together.'

"We can do the most amazing science across the street, but if you don't know how to treat the patients, if you don't know to take care of the patients, the results are not going to be good," Milano said.

"The nurses, pharmacists, really they are the key, the actors behind the scene that makes this happen," he said.

The work at SCCA isn't limited to just Seattle. It's a partnership of care extending to a five-state region that includes Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Hawaii and Washington.

In the lab, doctors and researchers are pushing boundaries and thinking outside the box.

In 2015, there were more than 200 clinical trials, fighting 48 different types of cancer. And the results are promising.

Are we getting closer to finding a cure?

"The answer is yes, we are getting closer," Milano said.

"We are making cancer to become a chronic disease like diabetes and hypertension," he added.

That's giving people like Anita hope that by changing how cancer is treated, more people like her will be around to tell their stories.

"I want everyone to have the best opportunity to beat their disease, that's what you need," Anita said.

If you'd like to learn more about the work being done at SCCA, just click on this Seattle Cancer Care Alliance link.