Photograph by H. Scott Heist
It started out as a shadow on Marilyn Smith's annual mammogram. Later, a chest x-ray revealed two masses around her heart. The diagnosis was Stage 4 lung cancer. The masses were inoperable.
"I wanted everybody to be honest with me," says Marilyn, a 55-year-old Warrington resident. "I was scared, but I'm a very strong person."
Marilyn turned to Doylestown Hospital. She had her four children here. "I've always gone to Doylestown Hospital for everything," she says. "I trust them. It's the only hospital I go to."
Lorraine Dougherty, MD, was her primary oncologist. She recommended radiation and chemotherapy.
Marilyn had chemotherapy infusions for 2 1/2 days a week every three weeks at the Cancer Institute of Doylestown Hospital. Her friends and family sat with her during her treatments. She got to know the nurses at The Cancer Institute. "The nurses there are wonderful," she says. "They're just wonderful."
Marilyn found a great deal of support from the Look Good, Feel Better program at the Cancer Institute, which provides a number of American Cancer Society-sponsored support groups and services, each designed to help patients and families cope with the disease. There are several groups for cancer patients, including Gilda's Club, the Young Women's Cancer Survival Coalition (for women diagnosed at an early age) and Look Good, Feel Better (to help women cope with the physical side effects of cancer treatments). Marilyn lost her hair and started wearing a scarf while her hair grew back.
"Women come to their first Look Good, Feel Better meeting feeling awkward, often because they have lost their hair," says Director of Cancer Services Karen Quinlan. "By the time they leave, they are removing their wigs, trying on scarves, and doing their makeup and nails. It is wonderful to see them relaxed and having fun."
A salesperson for a wine and spirits company, Marilyn continued to work during much of her treatment. "You just have to keep a really strong attitude," she says. She responded well to the treatments and has been cancer free for nearly three years.
Marilyn highly recommends The Cancer Institute of Doylestown Hospital. "People would say to me, 'Aren't you going to go down to the city for treatment?' I was perfectly happy at Doylestown Hospital and had great results," Marilyn says. "The nurses are absolutely wonderful. They have great volunteers. The doctors and their assistants were all wonderful. I was really pleased with everybody."
Marilyn says it took her about a year to fully recuperate and get back to normal. She enjoys gardening and spending time with her children and grandchild.
"I'm enjoying life these days, she adds. I'm very lucky."