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Cancer Patient Testimonials

A different kind of breast cancer experience

Amber had already battled breast cancer once-and won. Then, in the summer of 2014, her cancer returned. But this time, it was stage four and metastatic.

Amber remembers feeling like there wasn't a lot of hope. But the team at Kettering Cancer Care quickly helped her focus on the positive. Amber especially appreciated her radiation oncologist, Douglas Einstein, MD, who was meticulous about her care, and "incredibly patient" while he answered her questions.

Breast cancer therapy had come a long way since Amber's first diagnosis. This time, for example, she was able to take a chemotherapy pill instead of having intravenous infusions-which meant effective treatment without the hair loss.

Today, Amber reminds people that stage four breast cancer is not a death sentence. In fact, in a very short timeframe, she was declared cancer free.

Giving back after a devastating diagnosis

For Criswell, a new door opened at the end of one of the darkest hallways of his life.

Criswell is an architectural consultant and public speaker who relies on his voice for his livelihood. While on a business trip to the Far East in 2013, he was finding it difficult to speak and swallow. A doctor in Singapore advised him to see a specialist, so upon returning to the Dayton area, Criswell made an appointment with Adan Fuentes, DO, an otolaryngologist at Southwest Ohio ENT Specialists.

Dr. Fuentes suspected tongue cancer right away, and Criswell remembers being incredibly shocked at the news. He went to Grandview Medical Center for a biopsy, and there he found members of the care team to be "amazing and so empathetic to me and my family." Criswell knew he was one of many patients, but somehow felt like the care team's most important.

The experience of personal care continued throughout Criswell's radiation and chemotherapy at Kettering Medical Center. Not long after his last treatment, Criswell was asked to join the patient advisory council, and he immediately said yes. He sees it as a way to give back to the health system that helped him regain his voice.

Living life, finding joy in the midst of a cancer diagnosis

Colleen was leading a very full life. After relocating from Seattle to the Dayton area in 2010 for her husband's job, she was enjoying her own jewelry business, which she calls "Fleurish Studio." "Life was good," she remembers. "I was creating, I was traveling, I was being published in magazines."

But one day in 2012, Colleen felt something wasn't right. She went to her gynecologist, who did some tests and found multiple masses in her pelvis. Colleen was referred to Thomas Reid, MD, an oncologist at Kettering Medical Center. Colleen learned that she had advanced ovarian cancer; at about the same time, her annual mammogram revealed breast cancer as well. Later tests showed that Colleen carries the BRCA-1 gene, a genetic mutation that greatly increases a woman's risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

Colleen first had an optimal de-bulking with Dr Reid and then chemotherapy which was targeted to address both her breast and ovarian cancer. At this same time Roxanne Weighall, MD, a breast surgeon was consulted and Colleen and Dr. Weighall together, decided that once her chemotherapy was completed, because of the BRCA-1 mutation a bi-lateral mastectomy followed by reconstruction would be the best option, which would lesson her chances of a recurrence. Colleen was then sent for a consultation with plastic surgeon Steven Schmidt, MD, who would do the reconstruction phase. Colleen's cancer team are all part of the Kettering Health Network, which has helped to foster open and ongoing communication between all three Physicians when any issues have arisen.

Three years after her inittial diagnosis, she returns to Kettering Medical Center periodically for treatment and follow-up. In that time, Colleen says she has grown very close to her cancer team, including the compassionate oncology nurses and staff. "They're like family," Colleen says. "We cry together, we laugh together. There aren't words to describe what it feels like to know that they care."

As she reflects on her experience, Colleen has some encouraging words for other women facing a battle with cancer. "Stage IV ovarian cancer is not a death sentence," she counsels. "You CAN thrive, live your life and find joy, and everyone at Kettering Cancer Care will help you do that."