Compassionate Care Allows Cancer Patient to Focus on Healing
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by Trish J. Lanier
Trish J. Lanier
I am a cancer survivor due to the remarkable care and innovative treatment I received at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center. In July, 2010, I was diagnosed with stage IV pseudomyxoma peritonei. Prior to being admitted to the cancer center, I spent nine days at my local hospital undergoing numerous tests for my extended belly and pain. The doctors explained that they were not equipped to make a full diagnosis nor conduct the required surgery to remove this mass and reduce my swelling. My family and I were devastated, since I did not have health insurance but was told I had cancer.
Thanks to prayers, faith and the hospital's staff, I was transferred to UMGCC, where Dr. Nader Hanna, head of surgical oncology, had agreed to take my case. I cannot describe the high level of fear and anxiety I experienced at this time. Yet, from my first meeting with Dr. Hanna, I was reassured that my condition was treatable. He was kind, patient and personable. He told me that he was familiar with my condition and explained what would be involved in the required surgery. I immediately experienced a sense of calmness and gratitude that God had placed me in the right facility with the right surgeon.
Two days later, Dr. Hanna performed laparoscopic surgery and found that I had numerous tumors. He calmly explained to me and my family how he would proceed with my HIPEC surgery. On August 5, 2010, Dr. Hanna and his staff expertly performed this very long and high-risk surgery. They removed my ovaries, uterus, spleen, appendix, gall bladder and omentum. During my recuperation, I received consistently high quality treatment from the ICU and fourth floor nursing staff. Dr. Hanna and his team visited me every day until I was discharged from the hospital. Although my home recovery was very challenging at times, my friends and family helped me to keep a positive attitude. The greater source of my stress was due to my lack of health insurance and loss of my employment. How would I receive the necessary follow-up treatment, including chemotherapy?
I communicated my concerns to Dr. Hanna and he responded immediately. The very next week, I was assigned to and met my oncologist, Dr. Petr Hausner. The staff at the cancer center are simply remarkable: Jae Lee, R.N., and Vani Venkataraman., my social worker, were extremely helpful in expediting required forms and applications for assistance. When Dr. Hausner -- who is very patient and thorough -- learned of my circumstances, he told me to simply focus on getting better and the center would take care of everything else. As a result, I received assistance with my oral chemotherapy prescription from Genetech two days before I was scheduled to begin treatment. I contacted nurse Donna Kronner, R.N., anytime I had questions or concerns with my chemotherapy treatment. She is very knowledgeable, patient and encouraging.
Each time I visit the cancer center, I'm treated in a consistently compassionate and personable manner by the staff. During my December appointment, Dr. Hausner telephoned to check on his patients, even though he was out of the country on vacation. Sometimes there are many patients in the waiting area, and it's easy to become discouraged because of the uncertainty of this disease; but, the staff goes out of their way to make you feel like you are the only patient there, due to their attentiveness and dedication.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude and greatly encouraged because of UMGCC's innovative therapy and aggressive treatment. I'm still facing financial obstacles, but the one thing I don't have to worry about is my cancer care. As a result of my excellent treatment, I have hope for my future.