A Veteran’s Salute to Compassionate Care


In April 2022, Bernadette “Bernie” Stewart was told that her mammogram had detected calcification cells, which are a precursor to breast cancer. Her family doctor, Carson Seeber, MD, of TriState Family Practice & Internal Medicine, secured an appointment with Surgical Oncologist Byron E. Wright, MD, FACS, a physician at TriState General Surgery.

Dr. Wright’s credentials indicated that he was a skilled surgeon, and Bernie’s research showed that he had vast experience in breast cancer surgery, which is rare for the Lewis-Clark Valley.

Upon meeting him, Bernie knew that Dr. Wright’s expertise was not just in his clinical skills, which were undoubtedly top-notch, but also in his exceptional ability to communicate and connect with his patients and their families. He explained her condition and that although it was not of immediate urgency, it should nevertheless be addressed in a timely manner. He described in detail the prospect of full-blown breast cancer and made the complex medical jargon understandable, ensuring that as the patient, Bernie was well informed and actively participating in her treatment plan. “I think his no-nonsense, but caring approach to communication ensures patient confidence and trust,” Bernie remarks. “Dr. Wright is a detail-oriented person, and he makes sure that you understand all options for the condition being addressed,” she continued. “He clearly showed me the plan for surgery, what that was going to look like, and the need for post-operative care. Dr. Wright truly cares about his patients and their support systems. He provided open lines of communication and clarity for both my husband and I, and addressed all of our questions and concerns. This type of openness and support is not found in many medical doctors, and is of vital importance when managing a diagnosis such as breast cancer.”

Being an Old Corps Vietnam Era U.S. Marine Captain, Bernie likes to “get ‘er done,” so they proceeded with surgery in August of 2022. “Dr. Wright is a specific asset to veteran patients,” Bernie explains. Being a former Lieutenant Commander in the Medical Corps, U.S. Navy Carrier Fleet, and also having worked in a VA Medical Center, Dr. Wright shares a common bond of service with his veteran patients, further giving Bernie the comfort that she was in the hands of not just a skilled physician, but a fellow comrade. “We veterans have our own way of communicating and definitely our own sense of humor,” says Bernie. “It is difficult to find a physician with a military background, much less one that can speak military. He also understands military humor, which is why as I was laying on the gurney just before surgery, I told him ‘not to catapult me off the deck,’ which refers to Jet Jockeys taking off the carriers,” says Bernie. “Dr. Wright is capable of laughing with veterans and is really kind.” Over the years, Bernie has had the opportunity to interact with various surgeons. “Some have larger egos than their skills. In Dr. Wright’s case, I never observed the ‘Surgeon Ego,’ but his skills exceeded the others I had witnessed,” Bernie adds.

During post-operative visits with Dr. Wright, he examined the surgical site and made sure that everything was in order before releasing Bernie. “He referred me to two radiation oncologists for follow-up care and treatment, all of whom spoke highly of Dr. Wright and had positive interactions with him,” says Bernie. “Dr. Wright is not one to toot his own horn, but he saves lives, and women of the Lewis-Clark Valley are lucky to have a surgeon with his skills. I suggest TriState does everything it can to keep him!”

The impact of having Dr. Wright, the only fellowship-trained surgical oncologist in the region, extends far beyond the operating room. Through Bernie’s journey, we see that Dr. Wright is more than just a healthcare provider; we see a hero who continues to serve his country, in the corridors of TriState Heath, saving lives with every patient he sees. His presence at TriState Health means that veterans – and all patients – have access to world-class care right in our community.

To learn more about TriState Comprehensive Breast Health, please visit TSH.org/BreastHealth.