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Novella Lyons - Patient Story

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"Dr. Hoffman stopped what he was doing, listened to me and paid attention to my concerns."

— Novella Lyons, Breast Patient

Novella Lyons was well aware that women who have immediate relatives with breast cancer are at increased risk of developing the disease themselves. So when her mother died of breast cancer, Novella knew that breast cancer was a real threat.

In 1993, when Novella was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was treated at one of Philadelphia's large city hospitals.

Novella shared these thoughts with a friend who suggested she have her follow-up care with the doctors at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

"I was so glad I met with Dr. Hoffman who is a surgeon at Fox Chase. Dr. Hoffman stopped what he was doing, listened to me and paid attention to my concerns. That is what I needed," said Novella. The doctors at Fox Chase monitor Novella's health with frequent check-ups and testing.

"I love the atmosphere at Fox Chase and have built a great relationship with the people at the hospital. When women ask me where to go, I suggest a hospital that 'fights cancer, all day, every day' which is exactly what you'll find at Fox Chase," said Novella.

Since her treatment, Novella has made breast cancer awareness a major focus in her life. Many women in Novella's community did not talk about breast cancer. Once people became aware of her cancer diagnosis, she instantly became a resource women would turn to. 

"I finally decided that we need to make breast cancer education a priority in the community. I started Women of Faith and Hope (WOFAH) at Canaan Baptist Church in Germantown," Novella recalled. At her first meeting, 47 women showed up.

After a few years of successfully educating women, Novella teamed up with Fox Chase Cancer Center and invited the Mobile Mammography Van to attend her annual health fair. The mobile van provides on-site breast cancer screening by Fox Chase Cancer Center radiologists.

"Women bond in our meetings. They laugh and they cry. More and more women show up at our meetings. The women tell me it helps them get through the month," said Novella.

As Novella was building WOFAH, she learned that just as many African-American women are diagnosed with breast cancer as white women. Unfortunately, the death rate is higher among African-American women. Novella decided to do everything she could do educate her neighbors about the disease and provide support for those who were fighting it. To learn more, visit her website www.wofah.org.

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