Lady Ridley-Tree – A Gracious Lady Lends Her Support

By on July 9, 2018

By Bonnie Carroll—

Ridley-Tree Cancer Center ‘In the Community, For the Community, By the Community’

Over the years I have gone to the Cancer Center on Pueblo Street to cover stories on the exhibition of the artworks done by patients at the center. It has always been home to a group of medical professionals who worked 24/7 to lovingly help people with their journey through a cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Recently, I was thrilled to meet with Dr. Fred Kass, MD, Oncologist and Medical Director of the Oncology Department at the new Cancer Center and Matthew Kunkel, MHA VP of Oncology from Stanford Health at the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center for a private tour of the new Cancer Center building that opened this year to the delight of generous supporters, Cancer Center staff members and the entire Santa Barbara community. Everyone is over joyed to have witnessed first hand that it takes a village to turn a decade-long dream of a new regional Cancer Center into reality. I have walked with Doctors Kass and Kunkel for several years in the Barbara Ireland Walk for Breast Cancer and I’m always inspired by their genuine kind and dedication to finding a cure.
From the lobby visitors can enter a large waiting room with walls filled with beautiful art; art has always been special as a healing tool for patients at the Cancer Center, and in this new building everywhere you look you see beautiful art. Visitors might think it was an extension of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, however, the art has been created or donated by patients and sponsors. The library is also beautiful and such a comfortable place to sit and read up on recovery. There are floor to ceiling shelves of reference books, and an amazing computer library managed by a librarian who assists visitors with tools to fully use computer files with ease, which today is a vitally important skill for patients wishing to do their own research.
The large conference room on this floor is used for doctor and staff meetings, and at times as a part of the preventative cancer programs being planned and implemented to assist patients, visitors and area residents in obtaining and using a planned program to help prevent cancer through relaxation techniques, healthy design diets, exercise and attitude. This program has Dr. Kass very excited not only for his oncology patients but for everyone. He serves as the co-chair of the Cottage Hospital Medical Advisory Panel and is on the Cottage Hospital population health task force and is delighted a well planned program for cancer prevention will be available at the Cancer Center.
The chemo floor is filled with glass and overlooks the lovely serenity garden, which is a magical place. The private chemo/immune therapy open cubicles surround the infusion nursing station, and feature large and very comfortable lounges. The whole feeling is open, one with nature, and very relaxed. This whole area is so light and such a pleasant venue for life-saving treatments, unlike many others I’ve visited in the past with my family members fighting cancer.
Nearby is the EXETRA and Ridley-Tree Cancer Center boasts two of these amazing machines. Patients select scenes they like and they appear on a large overhead screen during their treatment, along with music of their choice. According to Dr. Kass, “Cedar-Sinai only has one of these machines, we are so lucky to have two at a cost of $300,000 each along the walk to view the EXETRA.”
The appointment center looks like a reservation area in a major hotel; computers and phones abound. The consultation rooms are beautiful and afford comfortable seating for the whole family and staff, as well as large computer screens to view scans and discuss important patient plan of action information. Patient navigators are the people who assist doctors in implementing the individual patient plan and assist with needed information. I like the sound of that ‘patient navigator’ it makes me think of being on a river cruise to good health. The convenience of the in-house Pacific Laboratory and center pharmacy are obvious; they provide instant information for doctors and instant medications for patients.
The Cancer Center name is clearly all about Santa Barbara’s own Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree, who Dr. Kass describes as “the rock upon which to build this church” because in the early days she came to their events and everyone was so surprised and delighted to see her. She then got very involved and ultimately provided the major donation to build the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center.
The Lady Ridley-Tree and the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center were honored with the Partners Award at the Santa Barbara Hospice ‘Heroes of Hospice’ Luncheon in the Coral Casino for their outstanding contribution to the community. What an amazing tribute it was to a community of people with so much love and so much dedication to helping people on their fight against cancer.
In the words of Dr. Fred Kass, “It is a cancer center in the community for the community by the community.” I am certain while reading this story you can imagine how very grateful members of our community are for this amazing gift of love and life. For additional information, please visit
Ridley-Tree Cancer Center
300 West Pueblo Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
(805) 682-7300
Bonnie Carroll

About Bonnie Carroll

Bonnie Carroll has been a food/travel/lifestyle writer since 1983. She is the founder & publisher of Bonnie Carroll’s Life Bites News, does travel and food reporting on KZSB1290 radio, and contributes to a variety of national and international travel/lifestyle publications. Her first children's book C.C. Charles was published in 2002 and she is currently working on a second book. Her first great grandchild is expected this summer. Contact her at [email protected]

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Lady Ridley-Tree – A Gracious Lady Lends Her Support