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Stage III ovarian cancer survivor: Cancer Wellness saved my life

Pat Felty suffered many troubling symptoms, from digestive problems to back pain to forgetfulness, for years, but attributed them to recent shoulder and back surgeries. She sought advice from multiple medical specialists, who performed CT scans, MRIs and blood tests, but couldn’t pinpoint the root of her symptoms.

The symptoms consistently worsened and one day, she experienced “tremendous, breathtaking [abdominal] pain,” so severe, she couldn’t sit up. Felty’s wife took her to see primary care physician Sheryl Thacker, M.D. Realizing the severity of Felty’s symptoms, Dr. Thacker admitted her to the hospital right away.

“I was in the hospital for a week before they found the cancer,” she says. “I had all kinds of tumors spread throughout my whole gut.”

Dr. Thacker delivered the news: It was ovarian cancer. Gynecologic oncologist John McBroom, M.D., performed a 6.5-hour surgery to remove Felty’s ovaries, uterus, pancreas and part of her bladder.

The emotional impact of cancer recovery

“In the hospital, I only had two or three people come to see me because nobody could really understand what I was going through and I really didn’t want to talk about it,” she says.

When she returned home and faced 17 weeks of chemotherapy, her feelings of depression worsened. She had to sell her cleaning business, which she had owned for 20 years, and missed her clients, to whom she had grown close over the years.

“That’s one of the reasons why you get so depressed, especially when you can’t do the things you normally can do, like take a walk around the block,” she says.

Finding hope in Cancer Wellness

One day during a round of chemotherapy, Felty picked up a brochure for Thomas F. Chapman Family Cancer Wellness at Piedmont.

She decided to take advantage of the complimentary programs at Cancer Wellness, including individual counseling sessions with a psychologist and social worker, tai chi, art, yoga, cooking demonstrations and meditation. Attending classes and meeting other survivors and caregivers gave her a sense of purpose, she says.

“It just makes me feel so wonderful to know that there’s a place like Piedmont Hospital. People should know about it. People should know about Cancer Wellness,” she says.

Finding room to breathe again

“I feel like when I open the door [to Cancer Wellness], I can breathe,” says Felty. “I’m not holding my breath. It’s a place that is sacred and peaceful. As soon as you walk in the door, you let everything go and just be yourself.”

Felty says not only were the programs at Cancer Wellness life-changing, they were also lifesaving.

“Cancer Wellness saved my life,” she says. “It really did.”

Click here to learn more about Thomas F. Chapman Family Cancer Wellness at Piedmont. 

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