Rosie P.

Colorectal Cancer - Stage 4

Rosie Painter

We called the toll-free number to inquire about a second opinion. Even from that first phone call, I felt well cared for. There were no voice prompts to wade through or shuttling from one person to the next. After meeting with the care team, I had a CT scan and was walked through a proposed treatment plan a day or so later.

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. 

I had been feeling discomfort for about a year before having the colonoscopy that would lead to a diagnosis of cancer in December 2010. When I was first diagnosed, I was worried about who would take care of my daughter, and I thought it was the end of my world. But then I began to see things differently. “It’s the beginning of my world,” I thought. “My world is just going to be a little bit different than how I had it planned.” With the help of Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA),* my world after cancer has turned out to be better than I’d planned.

After a family trip to Italy, I knew I needed to see a doctor to address the symptoms I’d been feeling—abdominal pain, a feeling of fullness, some blood in my stools. I had a colonoscopy in Denver, and my doctor, seeing evidence of cancer in my colon, recommended that I see an oncologist immediately.

My husband and I knew from the start that no matter what the first oncologist told us, we would seek a second opinion. We were very interested in finding a facility where I could receive complementary medicine approaches, not only conventional treatment. My husband came across CTCA®, and we called the toll-free number to inquire about obtaining a second opinion. Even from that first phone call, I felt well cared for. There were no voice prompts to wade through or shuttling from one person to the next. Within two weeks of my diagnosis, my husband and I were on our way for a second opinion at CTCA Phoenix.

From the very start, the services were superior to anything I’d experienced prior. Someone was waiting for us at the airport, and everything was arranged for us. A schedule was left under the door to my room telling us each doctor I would be meeting with, there was even food provided in the refrigerator in the room. It was like checking into a hotel, but with exceptional medical care.

The day after we arrived, a whole team of healthcare professionals was waiting to answer questions I had about my diagnosis and treatment. I had an oncologist, a surgeon, a naturopathic clinician and a nutritionist.

One of the more challenging aspects of my cancer was that there were cancer cells in both lobes of my liver. No one I had spoken with at that point had addressed what could be done to remove cancer from my liver. My surgeon told me that he thought he could perform the necessary colon and liver surgeries together. He said this procedure could be done laparoscopically, which would shorten my healing time. It gave me so much hope to be told that.

After meeting with the care team and being exposed right away to CTCA’s Mother Standard® of care, I had a CT scan and was walked through a proposed treatment plan a day or so later. Dr. Milad provided me with my treatment plan. I made my choice to be treated at CTCA.

Everything in one place

Once I was aware of the help available at CTCA, I was ready to face the journey ahead of me. All of my fears and worries about traveling somewhere unfamiliar for treatment were dispelled, because what I found instead was a place where everything was organized for me. All of my doctors were in one place. Everything was where I needed it to be. As a dental hygienist, I know what it is like to genuinely care for patients, and that was what I felt at CTCA. There were people taking care of me who knew something about me, and who would be there to walk me through every step of the way, until I could walk by myself.

The first part of my treatment was chemotherapy to help shrink the tumor. After the tumor, I underwent surgery to remove the tumor from my colon, as well as laparoscopic surgery on the liver.

Following surgery, there were some remaining cancer cells on the right lobe of the liver. So my treatment plan was adjusted to incorporate four weeks of radiation following surgery. I also saw a doctor locally, in Denver, because of the appearance of cancer cells in my lungs. After the radiation was completed, I had additional rounds of chemotherapy every two weeks.

Because I was not able to have chemotherapy and radiation together, I had a six-week break from treatment where I was able to exercise, eat well, and let my body heal. I had acupuncture, massage, and organic food prepared for me every day. It was really good care. I worked with a nutritionist and a naturopathic clinician throughout all of these treatments. These individuals helped ensure that my nutrition needs were met and that my immune system was as strong as possible.

Another positive aspect of my treatment was that everything was explained to me. Before any procedure was done—chemotherapy, an imaging scan, anything—the person administering the treatment made sure I understood what was happening. My husband and I even met with a physicist who explained how the radiation therapy worked.

Feeling great and new family

Today, I am feeling great. My health is good, and I feel fabulous mentally and physically.

I return to CTCA every three months. And the truth is, I get excited to go and see everyone there. When I tell this to friends, they ask me how I can look forward to going back to a hospital. But the caregivers there are my family now. They are the people who carried me through so many difficult moments. I wish I could be there for them as they were there for me.

The truth is, I was afraid to complete my care. I wasn’t sure how to step away from the warm, safe environment of CTCA and back into the routine of my life. And my support network at CTCA paid attention to this concern and reassured me. “You can do this,” they told me. “This is what you’ve been waiting for.” They gave me information about how to take care of myself, and made sure I knew when I would return for a check-up.

Many acquaintances have said to me that if they ever need medical care, they just want the best doctor, they don’t mind how compassionate he or she is. But I disagree. I think kindness and compassion are vital parts of the treatment and healing process. That individual is making decisions for me. So I want him or her to be compassionate and knowledgeable. That is what I found at CTCA, and this experience changed my understanding of quality care.

* Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) is now City of Hope®, working together to expand patient access to personalized, comprehensive cancer care. Because this patient testimonial was written and published before CTCA® and City of Hope joined forces, mentions of legacy CTCA locations have not been updated in the interest of maintaining the patient’s original voice and story details.