Zorta E.

Uterine Cancer - Stage 2

Zorta E.

City of Hope worked with me to accommodate my job schedule because I didn’t want to miss any work. I came in and did tests one day and then returned another day to get my results. I met with my care team and, most importantly, my gynecologic oncologist. Throughout the entire process, I felt I received thorough explanations, and I did not feel rushed when I had questions.

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. 

Growing up, I learned early on how important family is to me. I spent half my time in Chicago, Illinois, with my mom and the other half in Oakland, California, with my dad. I graduated from a high school in Chicago and went on to attend local Chicago colleges. I am very close with my family, and it is a very large blended family. I have two brothers and seven sisters, and lots and lots of cousins. My mother passed away when I was only 27 years old, but my father is in his 80s. I have one grown daughter and three grandchildren whom I spoil rotten.

Since my family is all over the United States, and I travel a lot to see them. I also take my grandkids everywhere; I want them to see the world and experience new, amazing things. We have a lot of fun bowling, swimming and going to theme parks. But I also make sure we incorporate learning experiences into our trips by going to museums or zoos. We make learning fun. Our trips are part education and part experience. Together, we make memories.

Since 2001, I have been employed by the mass transit operator in Chicago. I have worked my way up, starting as a bus operator, then supervisor and, now, I work in the control center. I am also an entrepreneur, and I have a couple of businesses that also keep me busy.

My menstrual cycles had been erratic for several years, but in 2016, I began to experience bleeding for over a month, and it was occurring often. I went to see my gynecologist, and I completed several tests, but they couldn’t identify the cause. I was 49 years old, so there was an assumption that perhaps I was reaching menopause and that could be the cause of my issues. I would bleed for months, and then I would go months without anything. I went in for more tests, and everything came back negative.

I just knew that something wasn’t right, since this irregularity had been going on for years. I prayed to God and asked for help to find answers. After praying, what I felt strongly about was that I needed a specialist. I knew something was wrong, and I wasn’t going to accept the results that everything was OK.

I finally got an appointment with a specialist, and I was told that my symptoms sounded like an abnormality. It was the first time that my fears felt validated. I went in for a hysterotomy, and dilation and curettage (D&C), to examine my uterus. I also completed an ultrasound. The results came back: It was uterine cancer.

Feeling peace in knowing what’s next

My doctor began to discuss with me my next steps and treatment options. That’s when I let him know that I already knew what’s next—I was going to call Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA).* I had seen commercials on television, and I really started paying attention to them when I felt like something was wrong. I knew I wanted a specialist who focused on me and my type of cancer. I lived in Chicago, and there was a CTCA hospital in Illinois. I was willing to travel to get the best possible care.

I called CTCA®, and I got an appointment within a week in March 2017. I was impressed from the start, and then I walked in the front doors. Wow, the lobby was so peaceful and relaxing. I was immediately greeted and welcomed. I had appointments all day, and if I wasn’t sure where to go, CTCA employees would walk me to show me, whenever I asked. CTCA has a cafeteria onsite, and the food was so good. Everything was fresh and healthy and tasted amazing. What I wanted was there, all under one roof.

CTCA worked with me to accommodate my job schedule because I didn’t want to miss any work. I came in and did tests one day and then returned another day to get my results. I met with my care team and, most importantly, my gynecologic oncologist. Throughout the entire process, I felt I received thorough explanations, and I did not feel rushed when I had questions. The doctor explained what was going on inside me and then talked to me about my treatment options. We decided that the first step would be a hysterectomy.

My surgery was scheduled for nine days later. The doctors were worried the cancer would spread to the rest of my body, so it was important to move quickly.

Getting through next steps

My dad, stepmom and several siblings all flew in for my surgery. CTCA helped arrange for two hotel family suites at a discount, so it was very affordable. It was important to me that everyone was together.

The day before my surgery, we checked into the hotel. We all went swimming and had a blast the night before. More friends and family came to support me, and at the hospital, they treated everyone like family. The hospitality and compassion that the CTCA doctors, clinicians and staff showed me and my family were amazing. I felt all the positive energy all around me, and it helped ease my worries.

I told the doctor that I didn’t want any narcotics. I had never taken drugs before, and I didn’t want something that would hinder my function. The doctors and nurses supported me and provided me acetaminophen and ibuprofen. They told me ahead of time what they were going to do, how I was going to feel and what I should expect in recovery. I felt more than prepared and ready.

Surgery went well, and I stayed in the hospital for three days. I had a hysterectomy, and at the same time, they removed several local lymph nodes. At home, my best friend and daughter cared for me, and I felt comforted by the rest of my support system. I am truly blessed to have the best family and friends.

After the surgery, my doctor presented radiation therapy as a treatment option. Together, we discussed it and decided not to do radiation. I felt I had all the information I needed to make that decision.

Living life to the fullest

I truly believe that your mental state helps with the physical state. Throughout my cancer treatment, CTCA provided me whole-person care. I was offered supportive care services, and when I felt symptoms or side effects, they were addressed quickly. CTCA offered me many options to help with recovery.

My surgical incision is healing, and the scar is barely noticeable. I go back every three months to CTCA for follow-up appointments. I complete scans and tests to make sure the cancer isn’t returning. The hospital works with me if my schedule changes. After taking six months off work, I am back full-time with no restrictions.

I tell everyone I know and meet about CTCA. I am always sharing my story about my experience. Some people I talk to can’t believe I traveled outside of Chicago for treatment. I tell them there is no distance I wouldn’t travel for my health. Even though it’s a long drive, it’s worth it to me.

I also tell others that you have to be proactive and take care of yourself. Your life, family and friends are all worth it. Don’t take too long to address an issue or concern. And if you aren’t getting the answers you think you should, seek out a second opinion. Health is a valuable asset that you never truly appreciate until it’s at risk.

I’m optimistic about the future. I am trying to stay healthy by eating the right foods, exercising and returning regularly to CTCA for my appointments. I am taking care of myself and taking advantage of all my opportunities.

Although I have had a fulfilling life, I feel like there are a million things I haven’t done. My life has a new perspective, and I feel so blessed to have this time with my friends and family. My youngest sister just graduated culinary school, and I want to be around to see her continue to succeed. I am looking forward to seeing my grandkids grow up, go to prom, graduate high school and then college. And of course, my daughter is my whole wide world, and being with her is a blessing. The little things in life, the moments in time, all mean something to me now, and I won’t ever take them for granted again.

 * 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.

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