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Pat Prior-Scheivert knew something was wrong in November 2008 when she found a lump the size of a lemon on the right side of her groin. “It wasn’t there when I showered that morning, but it was that night,” she recalled. Pat, who was 69 at the time, didn’t waste time getting to her family doctor, who ordered a CAT scan.
“They said if you don’t hear from us, nothing is wrong,” she said. But she kept calling anyway. Pat’s instincts were right – her test results were never received and nobody seemed to notice. “Finally, I got somebody from the lab on the phone who said the tests showed an enlarged lymph node. That’s when I panicked.”
Pat consulted with a hematologic oncologist, who told her she had stage four melanoma. A surgeon at her local hospital began performing a series of surgeries to remove cancerous lymph nodes. When he was finished, he said there was nothing further he could do. “He didn’t say one thing positive,” she recalled. “He couldn’t get to the cancer because it was sitting behind a main artery. I left that office and I was so mad I couldn’t even speak."
Frustrated with her local care, Pat's next call was to Fox Chase Cancer Center.
“My next call was to Fox Chase Cancer Center, which is about an hour from my house,” she said. Pat was asked to fax her records to Fox Chase that day. She was given an appointment the following week with Lainie Martin, MD, a medical oncologist who specializes in treating patients with melanoma and Jeffrey Farma, MD, FACS, a surgical oncologist. Together, Dr. Martin and Dr. Farma developed a tailored treatment plan that included chemotherapy designed to shrink the tumor, followed by surgery to remove it.
“When Dr. Farma reviewed my medical records, he didn't understand why my local surgeon hadn't removed the affected lymph nodes," shared Pat. “He said, 'I’m going in there Pat, and I’m taking out any nodes that don’t look right'.” Following a successful course of chemotherapy, surgery was scheduled for September 2009. Dr. Farma removed more lymph nodes, including four that were cancerous but had not shown up on the PET Scan. Pat was grateful for his thoroughness.
“Dr. Farma and Dr. Martin are the most caring people.”
“Dr. Farma and Dr. Martin are the most caring people,” said Pat. “They take their time with you and work really well as a team, sharing information back and forth.” Pat feels lucky to be alive and credits the team at Fox Chase. "Honest to God, Dr. Farma and Dr. Martin saved my life - by taking out extra lymph nodes, coming in to see me on Saturdays and Sundays, and going above and beyond every time."
Pat understands that the cancer may recur, so she sees her doctors for regular check-ups. “I’m cancer free now and I appreciate every day. I feel that what happened to me at Fox Chase was a miracle.”