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Patti Pyle - Patient Story

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You have to have faith; you have to believe you will be one of the people who survive.

— Patti Pyle

As a professional mental health counselor, I have years of experience helping others work through issues in their own lives. I know the importance of staying positive during difficult times and not letting negative thoughts cloud your mind, especially when important decisions need to be made. But it wasn’t until I went through a hardship of my own that I realized the true importance of that mindset.

Patti with her grandson, Colby Patti with her grandson, Colby

It was during a trip to visit my son in Texas that the pain began. It became so unbearable that I was forced to go to the emergency room. The doctors there told me I had a perforated ulcer that would need to be operated on immediately. It was a very scary experience, but the idea of having cancer never entered my mind. After the initial surgery, however, a similar pain returned.

In September 2015, a recurrence prompted my doctor to schedule an endoscopy. I tried not to worry, I tried to put into practice the positive thinking I discuss with my clients, but I found that was easier said than done. My heart sank as the doctor delivered the news; I had stage 2 stomach cancer. At first, it was hard to accept the news. My mind began to race and questions and doubts clouded my mind. Why was this happening to me? How would I get through this? Would I make it?

As soon as I found out I had cancer, I knew immediately that I wanted to be treated at a cancer center. I made my appointment at Fox Chase and from the first moment I entered the building, all of the negative thoughts, all of my anxieties, began to fade away. Everyone was so positive and encouraging and I left my initial consultation with a surgical oncologist feeling hopeful.

When I first met with my doctor, my family and I were full of questions. He patiently answered each and every question, and walked me through the process step by step. After initial testing, it was determined that I would need two months of chemotherapy followed by surgery to remove the tumor in my stomach. My doctor placed a port in my left shoulder area, and assured me that it would be removed post- surgery. Prepping for the surgery was nerve-wracking, but I found the entire staff of doctors, nurses, techs, and receptionists extremely friendly and supportive, especially his secretary, Rose.  I also found my doctor to be a very devoted and experienced doctor. Through help from my family, support from the staff at Fox Chase, and continued prayer, I went into my surgery feeling positive about the outcome.

The morning of March 8, 2016 was one I will never forget. As nervous as I was, sitting in the surgical waiting room, I had an undercurrent of confidence. Of course, my surgical oncologist did an amazing job with the surgery, removing the ulcer and cancerous mass completely, leaving only a small incision behind. I had little pain post-surgery and spent five days as an inpatient. During that time I was, again, impressed by the level of kindness and compassion displayed by the staff at Fox Chase. Especially when, following the procedure, I underwent additional rounds of chemotherapy, at a hospital near my home. The Fox Chase staff worked with staff members at my local hospital in Reading, PA to ensure I was given the best care possible. After months of chemotherapy, on October 10, 2016, I was finally cancer free.

Your life post cancer is definitely different; there is no doubt about that. But different doesn’t necessarily mean worse. For me, I have learned to be more attuned to my body. I watch what I eat and when my stomach bothers me I reach out to my medical team. I am much more cautious than before. I feel more empathic at work. As a counselor it is my job to help others work through issues in their lives. Because of this cancer journey, I feel I am that much more qualified to help my clients.

My family, friends, coworkers, and the priests at my church were all pivotal to the positive attitude I maintained through my journey. Now, time spent with them is even more precious. I regularly spend time with family and friends, even skyping with my grandson who lives in Germany.

I would not have gotten through this without my support system, without my family and friends, and without my doctor and all of the staff at Fox Chase. As gloomy as it may seem, always surround yourself with people to help you get through the tough times. You have to have faith; you have to believe you will be one of the people who survive. When you are at Fox Chase, you are in good hands. 

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