When Hasina Shafeek received the call in October of 2014 that she had stomach cancer, her first thought was that she needed to know as soon as possible what steps would come next and how she could get rid of it. As a 35 year-old mother of three daughters under the age of 16, she had no time to waste.
Thankfully, Community’s cancer care teams felt the same way. The day after her diagnosis, Hasina, her mother and a few other family members met with Pablo Bedano, MD, an MD Anderson Cancer Network® certified physician practicing medical oncology at Community Hospital East.
Dr. Bedano had a plan, and he helped Hasina and her family feel more comfortable with the long road ahead of her.
“I just trusted I was in the right place—they made it easy,” she said.
On November 21, Hasina began chemotherapy treatment. It was continuous, with the medicine being administered through her port for nine weeks, 24 hours a day. During the course of treatment, she would visit Dr. Bedano every three weeks, and a nurse would come to her home every Friday.
Immediately following chemotherapy, Hasina underwent surgery at Community Hospital North under the care of Thomas Howard, MD. Initially planning to remove half of Hasina’s stomach, Dr. Howard quickly realized during surgery that he must remove all of it in order to address the cancer. At the same time, he reworked her digestive system, connecting her esophagus directly to her small intestine.
In April, after recovering from surgery, Hasina began radiation treatment. Chandrika Patel, MD, an MD Anderson Cancer Network certified physician specializing in radiation oncology, oversaw her treatment which occurred five days per week over the course of four weeks. Simultaneously, Hasina was taking a chemotherapy pill to doubly attack her cancer.
Finally, after months of treatment, Hasina was deemed cancer-free in August of 2015. Her mother, daughters, eight siblings, five best friends and extended family—all of whom comprised Hasina’s support team—were thrilled. She was alive, but, of course, her life has been changed forever.
Because of the treatment she underwent, Hasina is unable to work. She routinely sees Dr. Bedano for follow-up care. She is focused on helping to raise awareness about all kinds of cancers, and she diligently creates and delivers cancer awareness ribbons and flyers for patients each month to the offices of Dr. Bedano and Dr. Patel.
In March of 2017, a Community social worker gave her a $250 voucher through Community’s Oncology Patient Assistance Fund, made possible in part by donors at Community Health Network Foundation’s annual event, The Giving Gig.
Hasina says that $250 lasted her three months and allowed her to purchase food and toiletries for her and her family.
“My first thought was that God answers prayers!” she said. “As far as getting help, I don’t qualify for a lot of it, but I also don’t go looking for it. I prefer to be the one volunteering or giving back.”
When she reflects on what she has overcome and the support Community has offered her along the way, Hasina is overwhelmed with gratitude.
“The word ‘Community’? They mean it,” she said. “I love, love, love Community. I can walk in, and they know me. This experience I’ve had… I can tell you, I would not go anywhere else.”