Faces of the Giving Gig 2017
American Senior Communities is the proud sponsor of Faces of The Giving Gig patient stories.
I got my diagnosis on the day we closed on a new home. Instantly, life shifted from moving to beating cancer.
Toward the end of 2015, the 35-year-old mother discovered a lump in her breast during a self-exam. Amie made an appointment with her OB/GYN the following Monday. There, her physician recommended a mammogram.
Concerned, but not overly so, Amie went to Community Hospital North alone for the mammogram as well as an ultrasound. Yet the results weren’t what she hoped for—and suddenly she was being told that a biopsy was recommended that same day.
At this point, Amie was shaken and upset. Her husband joined her at Community North for the biopsy, and the test results were expedited. The next day, Amie received the call that she had cancer.
I went from being a nurse to being a patient...and I couldn't have asked for more support.
Lisa has been a nurse for 33 years, but she had taken time off to stay home with her children so she was rusty when she returned to the nursing workforce.
To get up to speed, she took a nurse refresher course at Community Health Network, and the course instructor helped her secure a job at Community Cancer Center North. There, she started in radiation therapy and eventually moved to the medical oncology side.
Fast forward about seven years, and Lisa faced some personal hurdles that changed her outlook on life.
In the midst of this challenging time, Lisa visited Community Hospital North for her routine annual mammogram. Based on the results, Community radiologist Todd Mitchell, MD, wanted to do a biopsy. To prevent Lisa from having to wait, he gave up his lunch hour that same day to do the procedure.
I was feeling stronger and stronger after my cardiac rehab. Then, I found a lump in my breast.
Every six months Nicole, a 35-year-old mother and wife, would have an echocardiogram test to monitor the growth of an aneurysm that had appeared several years ago. Afterward, she would visit her cardiologist from Community Physician Network Heart and Vascular Care, Sarada Uppuluri, MD, to discuss results and next steps.
In September 2015, Nicole’s results showed the aneurysm had grown to more than five centimeters in size. To prevent dissection, the doctors determined she would need surgery to repair the aneurysm and to either repair or replace the valve that had also become damaged.
All of a sudden, I’ve got cancer. I realized just how precious life is and how quickly things can change.
Monica had undergone a colposcopy four years in a row after experiencing abnormal test results through her OB/GYN. She had no symptoms, but she wanted a hysterectomy to help eliminate the need for these tests each year.
During an ultrasound in October of 2015 leading up to surgery, a cyst was found on her left ovary. It was malignant, and Monica was diagnosed with Stage I ovarian cancer.
I decided to fight. One night, I was lying in bed crying and decided I wanted to live. The next morning I just got up and got at it.
On Friday, December 11, 2015, Priscilla had a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy for a lump she found in her breast. It had taken Priscilla weeks to make the original appointment with her OB/GYN who recommended these tests, finally calling after a friend encouraged her to do so.
Three days later, Priscilla received confirmation that the lump was in fact breast cancer.
My doctors asked if I was willing to fight my Stage IV colon cancer, and without hesitation I said yes.
Her doctor thought she may have Crohn’s disease and referred her to a gastroenterologist. Prior to her appointment with the gastroenterologist, Amber’s upper abdomen pain worsened and became excruciating.
The gastroenterologist performed a CT scan, and results showed a mark on Amber’s liver, which they thought might be a hematoma. The gastroenterologist scheduled an examination of her upper gastrointestinal tract and a colonoscopy, but let Amber know he did not expect the results to show cancer.
However, upon waking up from her colonoscopy, Amber learned colon cancer was indeed her diagnosis.
The care and support of my medical team removed fears that otherwise would have existed, and they uplifted my spirits just with their company.
Craig had been experiencing pain in his back and shoulder for several months. Thinking he had either a muscle or back injury, he visited a chiropractor. For a period of time, the adjustments made by the chiropractor provided some relief. Eventually, however, the pain worsened, and Craig’s chiropractor expressed concern that there might be something else going on with his body.
In July of 2013, Craig visited his physician, who ordered x-rays to see if anything unusual could be detected. The x-rays revealed three tumors in his left lung. Within a week, a biopsy confirmed Craig had non-small cell lung cancer, Stage IV.
People who see me don’t believe I have lung cancer.
Seventy-year-old John W. is full of energy. He often can be found dancing and singing to the more than 150 songs on his mp3 player. He takes pride in mowing his own large lawn on the east side of Indianapolis. He volunteers regularly and is involved in his church community. He does all of this despite having Stage IV cancer.
John, a retired public accountant, was diagnosed in 2013 following a bout with pneumonia. Upon referral from Community internist Louis Wright, MD, he had visited Charles Brian Quick, MD, a pulmonologist practicing at Community Health Network. A CT scan and biopsy confirmed a slow-growing tumor in his right lung.
Chemotherapy was tough, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. It saved my life.
Two years ago David S. noticed a lump under his arm. He visited the doctor but was told it was not a big deal, likely just a fatty tumor. However, over the course of the next month, he noticed it grew significantly in the direction of his chest.
In November of 2015, David had a biopsy performed on the lump. The results confirmed it was Stage III Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
David was connected with Sumeet Bhatia, MD, an MD Anderson Cancer Network® certified physician specializing in medical oncology. Dr. Bhatia presented David with a plan, and he and one of his nurses, Megan, helped David and his partner feel comfortable, answering any questions they had about the process to come.
I found a lump in my breast, and called my PCP.
When 26-year-old Jessica found a lump in her breast toward the end of January in 2015, she called her primary care physician to schedule an appointment. Her physician, upon examination, expressed concern with the lump and ordered a mammogram and biopsy for Jessica the following Monday.
Tuesday morning, Jessica, a radiation therapist at Community Hospital East, learned she had breast cancer while at work. Her co-worker was with her when she listened to the message, and, upon seeing Jessica’s reaction, quickly went to find a physician in their office to come and talk to her.
I was five months pregnant when I was diagnosed with Stage III cancer.
In November of 2015, Kelly Kaur was five months pregnant with her third child when she was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer.
Her OB/GYN had discovered a lump at an appointment. An ultrasound showed abnormal growth, and a biopsy performed the same day confirmed a cancer diagnosis. Kelly was immediately connected with Erin Zusan, MD, an MD Anderson Cancer Network® certified physician specializing in breast surgery.
“She was wonderful,” said Kelly. “She took me into a conference room where she and a nurse navigator, Cassie, explained everything to me and answered all of my questions.”
Kelly’s cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes. Anuj Agarwala, MD, and an MD Anderson Cancer Network® certified physician practicing medical oncology, determined chemotherapy would be the best approach. Each week, Kelly visited Community Cancer Center South for another round of treatment, as well as to see a fetal maternal medicine specialist to check the progress of her baby.