CLINTON — Patricia Rogers had no idea what to expect after her diagnosis with breast cancer five years ago, but with the unending support of her sister and the treatment she received at the Cancer Treatment Center of America (CTCA), she was able to celebrate life five years later.
Rogers, who lives in Clinton, Maryland, was originally diagnosed in April 2013. Initially treated at a local hospital, she was confused, afraid and wanted answers but she didn’t know where to begin. She felt like her local doctors weren’t the best at explaining her diagnosis to her leaving her too uncomfortable to ask further questions so she ended up calling the CTCA. They recommended that she come to them to be treated.
“I told them I don’t live near a cancer treatment center, I didn’t want to come alone and I couldn’t afford to go out of town,” she said. “But they told me I had good insurance and they would pay for me to come. I could bring my family and they had a hotel discount for patients.”
Rogers then went to the CTCA in Zion, Illinois, the closest treatment center that would take her insurance. She was accompanied by her sister, Francine, who refused to let her go alone.
“You think of cancer as something you don’t get over,” Francine said. “My first reaction was fear, my second was to find a place where she could get treated and we found the CTCA.”
Despite the devastation of being diagnosed with cancer, Patricia described her experience at the CTCA as wonderful.
“What separates CTCA is what we call the mother standard of care,” said CTCA Media Relations Professional William Kelly said. “We treat all of our patients like they are members of our family.”
There she was given the results of her tests upfront within a matter of days compared to the six months she had to wait at the Maryland hospital. She was given a team of doctors that included a cancer doctor, nutritionist and a psychiatrist. They made her feel comfortable throughout the entire process, gave her options for what kind of treatment she wanted to have and made sure she knew every step of the way exactly what was going on.
Francine originally went in as her caretaker thinking she would just be there for moral support and wouldn’t be able to be involved much with the process but even she felt that the doctors made sure she also understood every steps of the way what was going on with her sister and how she could help.
“How come it all doesn’t work this way?” Patricia said. “Doctors assume you understand. I wish they would all take the effort to explain what you’re going through and say it’s okay to feel the way you feel.”
She opted to have a double mastectomy and stayed at the treatment center for a couple of months to have radiation. She then went home for three weeks and returned to Illinois to start having radiation five days a week from June to July. In the time that followed she went back every six months for a doctor’s appointment and then went only once a year.
Now, over five years later, she is cancer free and living life to the fullest. These days she’s got a good outlook on life, travels and is very involved with her family.
“I never had kids so I’m very involved with my brothers and sisters children and grandchildren,” she said. “I’m able to think about going to weddings and birthdays, all of which I would have missed if I wasn’t here.”
She recently, along with Francine and her two other sisters, went back to Illinois not for another treatment, but for the CTCA’s annual Celebrate Life event. The annual event celebrates the five-year journey of CTCA patients and remembers those who lost their lives fighting their illness.
This year’s event, which took place in June, included 120 people, more than ever before. Patricia and the rest of the patients and family members were let out of their buses onto a red carpet and were met with cheering doctors, nurses and technicians.
“Many of our patients come from small towns so they don’t really have the opportunity to be center stage,” Kelly said. “Celebrate Life gives them a real red carpet treatment.”
As part of the event, there was a commemorative tree planting ceremony to symbolize the wonder of life and growth.
“The CTCA takes a unique approach,” said Francine. “They treat not just the body but the mind. There are not just doctors that are experts with cancer; they realize that cancer attacks you mentally as well as physically.”