Husband and Father, Dow Retiree and Cancer Survivor
"I was worried about chemotherapy, but whatever they did, they did it just right."
After 20 Years Away, Retiree was Delighted to Find Superb Cancer Care in Midland
It was a message every cancer patient longs to hear, and Bob Williamson of Midland was no exception when a CAT scan taken after his surgery and chemotherapy for colon cancer revealed “no cancer present.”
“I’m 84 years old,” Bob said, “and I’m going to outlive that cancer.”
After about 20 years of travel and living in other states, Bob and his wife, Joyce, both Dow retirees, were glad to return to their hometown. One reason is the exceptional care offered at MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland.
“Many don’t appreciate what they have here,” said Bob. “It’s wonderful. I’ve been to M.D. Anderson in Houston and other big-city hospitals. MidMichigan doesn’t have to take a backseat to anybody. It’s a great hospital.”
After successful surgery by General Surgeon Melwin J. Sequeira, M.D., Bob had a hard time deciding whether or not to have the follow-up chemotherapy his doctors recommended.
“Over the years, I have known people who were made very ill by chemotherapy,” Bob said. “I am also being treated for bladder cancer, which further complicated the question.”
Bob had a few weeks to decide, but he had questions for several doctors and needed not just individual answers, but a conversation.
He thought he had to personally call each doctor, and then compile their responses with his own additional research. But MidMichigan doctors see things differently. They work with MidMichigan’s Oncology Nurse Navigator.
“She is well named,” Bob said. “She navigated through all the red tape and got all the questions answered in a hurry. She did a great job of explaining everything, helping me look at pros and cons, and offering examples of how to deal with things I was concerned about.”
Bob began working with Oncologist Syed Hassan, M.D., who scheduled him for 24 treatments, six weeks on and two off.
Every time Bob came in for treatment, Dr. Hassan was there to examine him and explain the results of the blood test taken a few days earlier to determine the dose of the chemotherapy.
“Dr. Hassan is great. While he examined me, he also gave me prescriptions to take care of any side effects of the treatment,” Bob said.
On treatment days, Bob spent the whole day at the Infusion Center on the Medical Center campus. In his private, pleasant cubicle, he would get comfortable and watch TV in the leather reclining chair, or he would take his IV pole for a walk to the snack area for hot cocoa, coffee or tea. Lunch was provided for him and for Joyce, too, if she was there.
Bob got to know all the nurses by name. “It’s a great group over there. They are very competent and I respect them all,” he said. “They keep track of you. If your blood count is down or your calcium is down, they’ll tell you what you can do to fix it.”
After some difficulty inserting his IV, Bob had a thin, soft, plastic tube put into a vein in his chest, with an opening (a port) just under his skin. “It’s a great thing. It takes away all the pain and work of trying to find veins. They use it for blood draws, too,” he said.
While it is not possible to say how a patient will react to chemotherapy, there are now more ways than ever to prevent or relieve side effects, and Bob’s experience was a good one.
“Whatever they did, they did it just right,” he said. “I was in great shape. The day after treatment, I’d usually be a little woozy or not feel like getting up and going, but sometimes you wouldn’t know I’d had a treatment. After that I was totally normal. I only took pain medication once or twice.”
During his recovery from surgery, Bob appreciated receiving help from MidMichigan Home Care nurses. He also spoke with Agnes Williams, M.S.W., who let him know about community resources for people whose lives are affected by cancer.
With his chemotherapy complete, Bob continues treatments for his bladder cancer with Urologist Richard Mills, M.D. “They have taken out several tumors over the years I was on a three-month schedule for follow-up, but now I’m going every six months.”
“I am extremely happy with the way things have gone for me,” Bob said. “I had all my needs taken care of at the Infusion Center, and Dr. Hassan was there for me all the time. He still is. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them all.”
Bob Williamson’s story is just one example of MidMichigan’s advanced technology and expertise for cancer treatment and rehabilitation. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with cancer, ask your doctor for a referral to a MidMichigan surgeon or oncologist, or call MidMichigan Health Line for a physician referral at (800) 999-3199. Online, visit www.midmichigan.org/cancer or www.midmichigan.org/rehabilitation.