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A PLACE FOR VETERANS

Eastern Washington University has an Africana education center, a Native American study group and an advisory group that specifically supports students with disabilities. Yet Eastern has another population with a remarkably sized presence on the campus: veterans. At a minimum, there were 544 veterans on the Eastern campus last year, at least 5 percent of the student population. The university has an advisor in admissions specifically with the purpose of recruiting veterans.

Now, after years of anticipation, the university has finally launched its Center for Military Student Success, serving as both a hangout spot for veterans and to coordinate their services.

“It’s their space,” says Stacey Foster, vice president for Student Affairs. “They can solve their own problems. It’s a social lounge for them, a place where they can hang out, use wi-fi. There are places to study, places to have events, an administrative suite for staff.”

Two suites on the first floor of Showalter Hall have been specifically dedicated for the purpose. It’s also a place where advisors who understand all the complicated G.I. Bill paperwork can help them navigate. Meanwhile, for service members still in the military, the center intends to connect and help them over the Internet.

This new center is all the more unique considering that EWU doesn’t have much money to work with. But Foster was able to move around some resources, consolidate some staff and find enough money to make it work. After all, the military community was a group she cared about.

“I have a lot of personal interest in helping soldiers and airmen and guardsmen,” Foster says. “My daughter is an Army officer — she’s a second lieutenant. My husband is former military.”

WHERE THERE ISN'T SMOKE

If you still feel the urge to light up a cigarette now and then, you’re rapidly running out of places where it’s legal to do so. At first cigarettes were outlawed in airplanes, then bars and airplanes, and now even entire college campuses and apartment complexes.

Washington State University’s RiverPoint Campus is the latest university to make the switch. In fact, they brag, they are the first public four-year university in the state to go smoke-free.

In this case, it was the student body, not the administration that demanded it. Trevor McLay, last year’s vice-president of the WSU Spokane student body, says the idea came from the student Senate — with representatives from the schools of nursing and pharmacy.

“We began the process by circulating a survey,” McLay says. “We got about an 88 percentsupport response… A lot of people in support of the measure felt it was consistent in this type of academic environment. We’re largely a healthscience campus.”

In other words, it seems a bit odd for smoking to be allowed on a campus that revolves around health. Smokers now have to take their cigarettes off campus entirely.

“I would hope that it sends a good message to prospective students to the WSU campus community in terms of walking the walk, in terms of health,” McLay says.

Meanwhile, landlords across the city are increasingly making low-income apartment complexes smoke-free . Last year, the Landlord-Tenant Association met with the Spokane Regional Health District to gradually transition more units to smoke-free. This year, the health district has been distributing window-clings for landlords to advertise which of the apartment complexes are smoke-free.

“Yes, there are less and less places available for low-income individuals to smoke indoors,” says Kim Papich, spokeswoman for the health district. “Even people that do smoke would like smoke-free housing. Most smokers would say they would like to quit.”

MAGIC MACHINE

It cost about $2.5 million, bears the sleek metal motion and lasers of something out of Minority Report, and promises to cure cancer. The rotating metal machine dominates a large room of Rockwood Radiation Oncology.

Robert Pfeffer’s been working in the field of radiation oncology since 1990. In his office, he picks up an iPhone. “Think of how a telephone would have been in 1988,” he says. “To someone from 1988, they would have seemed like they came from an intergalactic civilization.”

Cancer-zapping technology has developed in similar leaps and bounds, he says. The RapidArc machine at Radiation Oncology is faster, stronger and safer. Patients only need to sit perfectly still for two minutes instead of 15.

Tumors have always carried inherent challenges to treat. You can pinpoint them with scans and blast them with radiation, but if your machine isn’t exact, you’ll be blasting healthy tissues, harming the body. If you try to compensate by applying the radiation to a smaller area, or using a lighter dose, the tumor will survive.

But not with this machine. It uses a 3D model of the tumor, whatever odd shape it is. And it doesn’t just use one solid beam of radiation. Instead, it uses an ever-changing grid to block parts of the beam — with 14,400 different combinations in all. As the beam rotates around the patient the grid continues to change.

When done right, the high dose of radiation converges in the exact shape of the tumor. For tumors near the lung, a camera monitors respiration. When the patient inhales, bringing their body out of alignment with the beams, the beams automatically turn off, and then resume when the patient exhales.

All that means that essentially, only the tumor gets radiation treatment. The healthy tissue is saved.

“The treatments that we can do now are far more accurate, far more safe, [with] far fewer side effects, and that gives us the opportunity to raise our dose,” Pfeffer says. A higher dose doesn’t just mean that the treatment schedule is shorter; it means that, this time, when he tries to kill cancer, it stays dead.

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