By Mary Ellen South
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph system. Of all the cancers, it is the most difficult to be diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society. Most patients find lumps in their neck, under the arm or in the groin. Other cancers can also cause these symptoms, though, thus comes the detective work of a good hematologist through blood work.
Carol Brumley had blood counts that were always alarming and off. She credits Dr. Nataliya Melnyk, former hematologist and medical oncologist at Beebe Healthcare’s Tunnell Cancer Center, for her tenacious persistence in tracking down her diagnosis with this cancer.
Over the course of 2017, Carol had over 31 transfusions. Friends and neighbors from her community, The Ridings, donated blood to help with the supply. She underwent eight chemotherapy treatments over 16 weeks, with her final one March 28, 2018. She continues to have checkups every six months and now works with Dr. Srihari Peri to track her progress.
When Carol was first diagnosed, her children and neighbors urged her to be treated in Philadelphia. She had all her paperwork sent there from Tunnell Cancer Center, but at the last minute she changed her mind, deciding to stay close to home, and she is so glad she did. Her husband supported her decision, stating that it was her body and she should be the one to decide what she wanted to do. He even encouraged her to stay with her natural color once her hair grew back a lovely shade of salt and pepper.
Staying at home was the right decision for Carol. She and her husband had moved to this area from New Jersey 10 years ago. As so many who relocate here, it seems going back to the area they came from harkens when a serious condition is diagnosed. Carol is so happy with the decision she made to use her “home” facility. Even her two daughters and three grandchildren were finally happy to approve her decision.
Celebrating the one-year anniversary of her last chemotherapy treatment, Carol believes that Tunnell Cancer Center should get the recognition it deserves. She praises the center for its friendly atmosphere. “Everyone was wonderful, from the front desk who always recognized me the minute I entered; those working in the lab; and those who provided a good-looking wig.” She was doubly impressed by the genuine care given to each patient. “It makes you so appreciative that everyone appears to love working with you.”
In her letter that accompanied her generous Celebrate Excellent Care gift to Beebe, Carol stated, “This is a gift of thanks and appreciation for your hard work. I can say that I had the best care of my long life. You were all great – the doctors, nurses, lab team and volunteers. I am happy to have you all as great caretakers. Bless you all.”
Carol’s purpose for donating and recognizing the Tunnell Cancer Center is to bring awareness to both the center and to this kind of cancer. She states that there is so much information available on breast cancer, prostate cancer and others, but not so much for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, her type of cancer. Because it is not in the public eye, she feels compelled to share her story and recognize the value of Beebe Healthcare’s commitment to its very own cancer center.
Quilts are often intricate patterns with stitching that pulls together a theme of beauty. Carol still wraps herself daily in a quilt donated by the Faith, Hope, and Love Quilters from St. Matthew’s by the Sea Church in Fenwick Island. It’s a reminder to her of the complicated process she has gone through, but also of the joy and love that comes with recovery and the support of others.
Carol is looking forward to becoming a Beebe volunteer someday.
As a community-based, not-for-profit healthcare system, Beebe Healthcare depends 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 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: Oncology Nurse Navigator Lisa Henderson, Oncology Nurses Audrey Umschlag and Michele Fletcher, Executive Director of Beebe Healthcare’s Oncology Services Barry Hamp, and Gift Planning Officer Diane Barlow receive a Celebrate Excellent Care Certificate from Carol Brumley, pictured in the center.