A Joyful Noise: Striking the Gong!
By Liz Leshine
Dee Cole, a native Delawarean, grew up in the country near Smyrna. She was hired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shortly after graduating from the University of Delaware and worked for 20 years as a senior manager at the national level of this organization. After many years of traveling and living in various parts of the country, Dee came home due to her mother’s ailing health. Today, Dee is a vibrant, active woman who enjoys retirement by kayaking, traveling and playing with her dogs. It came as a complete shock when Dee was diagnosed with breast cancer last November after a routine mammogram at Beebe.
Although she was about to embark down a scary road, Dee couldn’t have been more pleased with her care, which started just weeks after diagnosis. “Tunnell Cancer Center is wonderful,” says Dee. “Although I have great support among friends, the staff at Tunnell, including Kathy Cook, the nurse navigator; the radiology team; Dr. James Spellman, my surgeon; and Dr. Selvi Lingam, my oncologist, all made what could have been a terribly stressful time into a pleasant one.”
Dee’s journey with Tunnell Cancer Center began with a lumpectomy and node biopsy. Dr. Spellman reviewed Dee’s pathology report, and gave her great news. Her margins were clean and there was no cancer in her lymph nodes. She did however have Stage 1A breast cancer. Dr. Selvi (as she is called by her patients) reviewed Dee’s reports, and decided that since Dee was on the low end of the spectrum, radiation and a 5-year course of an estrogen blocker was recommended.
Shortly after surgery, Dee met with radiologist Dr. Jennifer Hung. “She so carefully explained all of the aspects of my breast cancer, and told me exactly what to expect from four weeks of radiation. She is calm, informative, and not afraid to suggest what will work best for you. She stays connected and made me feel special.” Dee made her Celebrate Excellent Care gift in honor of Dr. Hung and the radiation oncology team.
Dee continued by explaining that she could feel how compassionate her entire radiation team was at each of her daily appointments. On her last day of radiation therapy, the staff gathered to cheer and hug Dee as she hit the gong, signifying with that joyful noise, the end of radiation. Currently, Dee is enrolled in Livestrong, a 12-week program for cancer survivors at the Rehoboth YMCA. While meeting with new friends twice a week, Dee has become part of a support group, and has enjoyed exercise classes and nutrition sessions. Ironically, Dee discovered Beebe’s Celebrate Excellent Care program through another Livestrong member, Bob Schnepfe, a cherished Beebe volunteer, cancer survivor, and co-founder of the Celebrate Excellent Care program at Beebe in 2015.
“If nothing else, cancer has taught me how to live in the moment,” says Dee. “I feel very blessed to live close to Beebe’s Tunnell Cancer Center so I can benefit from the many experts there.”
Dee says she has been touched by her special bonds with friends who are like family, and her dogs who keep her outside to live in the moment. “Even with a recent cancer diagnosis, I am extremely lucky,” she said.
As a community-based, not-for-profit healthcare system, Beebe Healthcare and its Tunnell Cancer Center depend on the generous support of individuals, corporations, businesses, and private foundations. All gifts to Beebe Healthcare, large or small, are tax-deductible and are channeled through Beebe Medical Foundation. Gifts can be designated to specific areas such as Tunnell Cancer Center. Please consider making a gift today and sharing your story with our community. To make your proud personal donation or to learn more about Celebrate Excellent Care, go online to www.beebemedicalfoundation.org or contact the Beebe Medical Foundation at (302) 644-2900 or write to [email protected]
Photo caption: Radiation oncologist Dr. Jennifer Hung and members of the radiation oncology staff receive a special thanks from Dee Cole for her recent treatment at Tunnell Cancer Center. Pictured left to right are Alygia Blank, Cindy Douthat, Katie Cox, Dee Cole, Dr. Jennifer Hung, Jacki McCabe, André Lott, Rosa Smith, and Dineille Lloyd.