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Perspectives: A Cancer Journey From Three Points of View
A doctor, a patient, and a nurse navigator describe their journey through treatment.
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Beth Brunswick travels up and down the east coast from house to house working, fly fishing and enjoying life. Although she rarely sits still, Beth and Ed, her husband of 23 years, were relaxing in Florida in late February 2014. She noticed that her stomach was hard to the touch and was quite distended. “I thought this must be what it feels like to be pregnant,” admitted Beth, who never had children. She would soon find out that the hard mass in her abdomen was an ovarian tumor.
While she had no symptoms, other than the distended stomach, Beth sought the attention of her primary care physician, who practices in Florida. The following day, Beth had a CAT Scan and was instructed to return to her doctor’s office immediately. That’s when Beth learned she had ovarian cancer. “To say I was shocked is an understatement,” said the physically-fit 60-year old. “I had never been in the hospital and am rarely sick. Cancer wasn’t in my radar.”
Beth moved quickly and called her gynecologist, Susan I. Kaufman, DO, FACOG, in Cherry Hill, NJ, who suggested she meet with Stephen C. Rubin, MD, Chief, Gynecologic Oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center. Beth made an appointment for the following week and flew to New Jersey to stay with her sister. Dr. Rubin had recently moved his practice to Fox Chase so Beth was his first patient. She brought her husband, her father and sister, Julie, to her appointment and immediately felt confident in their decision to come to Fox Chase.
"I knew I wanted Dr. Rubin at Fox Chase to guide me on this journey."
“Dr. Rubin is incredibly reassuring and calm, which was just what we needed. I knew I was in the best hands and wouldn’t have considered going anywhere but Fox Chase,” shared Beth. “Once he described my treatment plan, I knew I wanted Dr. Rubin at Fox Chase to guide me on this journey.”
Unfortunately, this wasn’t Beth and Julie’s first trip to Fox Chase. “Our mother was treated here for pancreatic cancer,” explained Julie. “Although she didn’t survive, she was treated with dignity and respect throughout her treatment.”
"The nurses at Fox Chase were fantastic and extremely compassionate."
On Friday, March 7, Dr. Rubin performed the delicate surgery to remove Beth’s tumor, which had spread to the omentum (located in the stomach). She stayed in the hospital for three nights to begin her recovery process. “The nurses at Fox Chase were fantastic and extremely compassionate,” noted Beth, who was impressed with their responsiveness.
Due to the advanced stage of her cancer, Dr. Rubin recommended a course of chemotherapy. Dr. Rubin is a surgical oncologist who also manages chemotherapy treatment for his patients. In April 2014, Beth began an 18-week course of treatment. While she was recovering from surgery, Beth’s husband underwent spinal surgery in New York City. “It’s been a tough time for us, but I look at this as a bump in the road,” shared Beth, who believes her positive outlook on life will help her get through this journey.
During her treatment, Beth manages to work in New York, working private designer sales and coordinating wardrobe for her clients. “I love what I do and I love my life,” beamed Beth, who will not let cancer treatment stand in the way of living her life. In May, she plans to take her niece and nephews to Spain.
"I am so pleased with my decision to come to Fox Chase for treatment."
“I am so pleased with my decision to come to Fox Chase for treatment,” Beth added. “I would recommend Dr. Rubin and Fox Chase to anyone with cancer. He’s the best there is.”