West Richland PD ‘Chief for a Day’ Lana McDowell speaks on her experience with cancer

At 12 years old, doctors found a baseball-sized tumor in Lana McDowell’s brain. After several treatments, she just finished chemotherapy in August.

WEST RICHLAND, Wash. — The West Richland Police Department (WRPD) hosted its first “Police Chief for a Day”. This is a way to celebrate children who have shown characteristics honored at the WRPD, such as honor, commitment, integrity and teamwork.

The goal of this program is to provide the child with a day of fun and experiences they will never forget.

Lana McDowell of West Richland was chosen this year to be the WRPD Chief for a Day.

When she was 12 years old, doctors found a baseball sized tumor in her brain. She was diagnosed with Choroid Plexus Carcinoma (CPC), a form of brain cancer.

Doctors removed her tumor, but six months later, another was found in her brain. That’s when she started chemotherapy treatment at Seattle Children’s Hospital, and finished it in August.

“I would tell them to talk about it, and to cry about it when they want to. I would also tell them to find something that brings them joy and do it. For me, the main joy was my family and friends and I spent as much time with them as I could,” said Chief McDowell.

She shadowed Chief Thomas Grego and several officers, who all had all sorts of fun.

She got her own police chief uniform, got to see all different aspects of police work and she even nominated her father to wear the bite sleeve when they visited the Benton County Sheriff’s Office to see the K9 demonstration.

Chief McDowell’s one policy enactment from her day of service was to declare officers to wear ribbons with butterflies representing those fighting cancer. They wore lavender ribbons, which represent all types of cancer awareness.

It’s also National Butterfly and Hummingbird Day, which is why she chose the butterflies. She wrote that butterflies are a symbol for life, rebirth and hope.

“Just because they have cancer, doesn’t mean that they have changed,” McDowell wrote. “Just be you.”