After Pamela gave birth to her second son in 2001, she discovered a small lump in her breast. Her doctor told her not to worry, but over the next few years, the lump grew, and so did Pam's anxiety. Because both of her parents had died of cancer, she knew she was at risk. In 2005 she was diagnosed with stage II/III breast cancer. She was treated with mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. In 2007 she underwent reconstructive surgery.
While Pam was still seeing an oncologist for checkups, she continued to experience the sense that something was wrong. Pam had pain in her spine and a burning sensation in her leg. She had trouble walking and rising from a seated position. An MRI revealed bone cancer in her back, hip, and leg, so she signed up for more chemotherapy. The treatment wasn't working, and Pam lost her job. Her only income came from her son's disability payment.
Fed up with what she considered the cold and impersonal attitude of her hometown doctor, Pam went to CTCA in June 2008. She was impressed with how friendly and efficient the CTCA staffers were, as well as with the speed and efficiency of testing and diagnosis.
Pam's CTCA doctors explained that her cancer was estrogen-dependent. The chemotherapy wasn't working because the estrogen that Pam's body produced was promoting the growth of the cancer. Her new treatment plan included hormone therapy, a drug to strengthen her weakening bones, and medication to control her pain. Pam now goes to CTCA once a month for physical therapy, occupational therapy, and acupuncture to treat neuropathy and lymphedema in one of her arms. "I love it there and I don’t mind the travel. It’s worth it," Pam says.
As for financial matters, CTCA has a fund to which patients can apply for help, and it's given Pam both monetary assistance and peace of mind. She's now a member of the patient-to-patient network, because—in her words—"I really want to give back." She shares her experiences with other cancer patients and encourages them to try CTCA. "I tell them, 'It’s raining and you get everything under one umbrella.'"
Last updated on 6 December 2015
Before Leaving the Hospital: Get All the Paperwork
Impatient to be gone, and often suffering the woozy side effects of surgery and post-operative pharmaceuticals, patients too often find themselves back at home later, missing important documents that could have more easily been obtained on site. So before you hightail it out of your hospital or clinic, be sure that you have all of your important documents.
Generally, larger hospitals provide complete medical documentation as part of the standard exit procedure. However, some smaller clinics may rely more on verbal instructions, and they are less likely to build and maintain a dossier on your case.