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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Jane Elterman

Lung cancer - Stage IV

This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results.

View CTCA treatment results for lung cancer

Overview

My story

Emergency procedure

When I was 49 years old, I began feeling some pain in my neck. During a lunch break from work, I went to my internist near my home outside Dallas, Texas. Little did I know that I would not be returning to work.

After listening to my lungs, my doctor sent me for an MRI. The imaging clinic staff member gave me a disk and told me to go back to my internist’s office. I knew then that something was wrong.

As my doctor looked at the images, she could see right away what was wrong. There was cancer in all five lobes of my lungs, all of my lymph nodes and my jugular vein. The pain I was having in my neck was from a blood clot.

I went straight to the hospital from my doctor’s office. I was put into a wheelchair and taken to the admitting area. Later that night, after a few x-rays were taken, 1.5 liters of fluid was drained from my lungs. I had surgery the next morning. A chest tube was inserted to drain fluid, a port was placed for chemotherapy and a hole was punched into my heart sac because it was severely swollen (3 quarts of fluid was then drained from this region).

The right call

My first husband died from cancer when he was 36 and I always regretted that we had never sought a second opinion. During my treatment, I kept copies of every scan and every report and sent them to another doctor. That practice turned out to serve me well. In the autumn of 2009, the doctors at the hospital where I was being treated were unable to eradicate a large mass. Chemotherapy would work for a treatment or two, and then the tumor would begin growing again. The nerves in my hands and feet were severely damaged from the amount of chemotherapy I had received.

I transferred to a different hospital where I underwent CyberKnife® surgery. That procedure shrunk the mass, but a few months later, I had five new tumors.

At that point, I decided to seek treatment at another cancer center. Just as I was about to transfer to a different facility, my niece called Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA). She spoke with a representative and explained what was happening with me. “I can’t lose her,” she said to the representative. “What can we do?” Feeling good about what she was hearing, she asked the representative to speak with me.

During that first phone call, I was struck by the kindness of the representative. When I met with my medical oncologist at CTCA, he told me that he agreed with my previous oncologists – there was no cure right now for the type of cancer that I had – but he felt confident that it could be treated. My medical oncologist gave me the little bit of hope that I needed.

On my side

At CTCA, I received chemotherapy, Tomotherapy® and CyberKnife surgery. Prior to each treatment, my doctor took the time to explain the side effects I might experience. Having watched my first husband suffer through cancer treatment, I found it very helpful to know what to expect. I also received guidance about dietary changes and had therapy to relieve the numbness in my hands and feet.

From the start, I knew that CTCA was on my side. Everyone on my care team, and even others who weren’t on my care team, knew my name. We had a private room for my infusions so that we could be as comfortable as possible.

During Tomotherapy, I stayed at CTCA for seven weeks, a time that spanned the holiday season. That was a difficult time, but I made it through with the support of everyone there.

New life

When I was diagnosed, my niece was expecting her first child. Five years later, I was there to see this child start kindergarten. We’ve added more nieces and nephews to the family since then; I’ve seen graduations from college and high school; and my stepdaughter is expecting her first child.

On top of all these blessings, I’m feeling great. I had forgotten how good I could feel. I just did my first 5K. My husband and I went on a cruise to Tahiti. I also joined the Cancer Fighters® Care Net program so that I can be there for others who are going through what I’ve been through. I’ve taken on ministry duties at my church, working with people who are sick, elderly or otherwise unable to attend service. And I’m starting to get back to work.

It’s now six years since I was first diagnosed. I’ve gotten here through faith, the love from and for my family and the compassionate care provided by CTCA.