First treated: August 2013
From a patient interview on Sept. 5, 2014
Thinking she had pneumonia in August 2012, Patty made an appointment to see a lung doctor. An x-ray was taken, and it showed she had a soft mass about the size of an egg on her lung. Doctors thought it was fungal, and she was treated with antibiotics. After several months, none of the treatments worked, and Patty’s doctor recommended a biopsy.
It was now May 2013 and Patty’s biopsy was performed. At the time, doctors concluded she had an endocrine tumor, and she would be fine. However, the story changed when Patty returned to the doctor to have her stitches removed; a biopsy of the tumor revealed she had synovial sarcoma of the lung.
The next stop for Patty was a consultation with an oncologist, who admitted, “In all my years I have never seen a synovial sarcoma.” The oncologist referred Patty to Dr. Chawla and another sarcoma center.
Once Patty spoke to Dr. Chawla in a phone conversation, she immediately liked who he was, but her parents wanted her to consult with a second sarcoma facility. Patty scheduled an appointment at the other facility but her experience was not pleasant, and by then her sarcoma had metastasized. She was not happy with the services at the other facility, and felt the rapport wasn’t as strong.
Patty shares her personal story of her experiences with the Sarcoma Oncology Center:
I came back to Dr. Chawla, and it was bad. He said that it was bad, which is what I loved about him. He said, ‘There are some things that I agree with and some that I do not. Only God knows when your time is up. It’s pretty far in advance, and it’s like a wildfire.’
He never said that ‘I can’t treat you.’ He never said that ‘I can’t do anything.’ I had no clue that everybody here was 4th stage. Because they don’t treat you that way. They don’t treat you like you’re an invalid.
We came here (i.e. Sarcoma Oncology Center) and we all hit it off. I’ve been with Dr. Chawla now for a year.
I love it here because one when I walk into the office they all know my name and treat me well. Then at the same time I can talk to people and hear their stories, and I tell my story. It gives us all a little hope. I do not look like a cancer patient. That’s what I tell people, look at me. Do I look sick? You have to have faith; they are practicing medicine. They know medicine.
So that’s what they do and I am really happy here. He (Dr. Chawla) is very upbeat in here. They are hard working people here; they want to take care of us. I fully believe that I was brought here.
Dr. Kumar. He’s great too. I’m a chemist by nature, and he tells me what’s going on. He’s very patient, very kind. He will go over things. He’s really great about it.
They’re all very good. Dr. Quon- very friendly, they are all very friendly- will come and talk to you. Listen to you. They’ll remember everything about you, what you’ve done and ask about it. They remember all that.
Patty’s recommendations to new patients:
My advice to patients, make sure you read up and question. Make sure you understand what’s going on. Know all your treatments, side effects. Most important thing, having a strong sense of I’m going to get through this.
You have two choices: Sit home and cry; or kick it’s butt.
I have seen more people survive with that attitude. Planning ahead. Set goals far out. It gives you something to go for. Even if it’s buying a vacation for yourself. Milestones like birthdays. Gives you something to go for.