Sletten Cancer Institute Marks 15 Years as a Light in the Darkness

The five months of chemotherapy and three weeks of radiation were “horrid” for Barb Byrne as she battled breast cancer, but through it all she could count on compassionate care and a soothing environment at Benefis Sletten Cancer Institute (SCI). 

“It was a relaxing place,” she said. “It’s hard to go in knowing how sick you’re going to be, but with the fountain and art you had distraction from the upcoming misery.” 

Having oncology care in Great Falls also meant Barb didn’t have to travel for excellent care from the talented team of nurses, oncologists, and surgeons. 

“In other places, you’re just one of a thousand,” she said. “Here you don’t feel like there’s a huge crowd.” 

At Benefis, we’re celebrating 15 years of Sletten Cancer Institute this year. It’s a chance to honor the impact donors have made and continue to make through what can be a patient’s biggest health challenge. 

SCI opened in December 2005 thanks to generous donors inspired by the capital campaign’s theme of “Lighting the Path with Compassion and Care” and especially by the people they’ve loved who have been touched by cancer. 

The spirit of the campaign is evoked by the SCI tower, which remains a beacon of hope. 

The project began in 2003 with a study on the cancer program and included a wide range of providers, nurses, representatives from other organizations, and cancer patients. 

They advocated for a free-standing cancer center that would centralize services in a way that’s easy to navigate during a stressful time. They wanted a supportive environment that addressed the complete person, body, mind, and spirit. They wanted travel outside the area for treatment to be unnecessary except in rare cases. 

That’s what SCI delivers. The “extras” like support groups, counseling, massage, the appearance center, family assistance, Gift of Life Housing, and other resources are central to caring for the whole person. 

Above the door to SCI, writing on the wall reads: “Dedicated to all the courageous people who are fighting cancer. May you and your families find inspiration, caring, healing and hope within these walls.”

For 15 years, that aspiration has been a reality for thousands of Montanans. Please join us in keeping the SCI flame burning for future generations.

Support cancer patients through your donation to Sletten Cancer Institute via Benefis Foundation.