Terry beats cancer

McLaren Macomb cancer centerI am a patient at the Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Macomb, Ted B. Wahby Center.

I was diagnosed with CML (chronic myelogenous leukemia) cancer in December 2014. Dr. Salman Fateh was my oncologist. I recently spoke with Julie Blancke (physician liaison) about signing up for the "Center-Peace" arts project for the BRAvo event. In our conversation, I shared with Julie about how lucky I am to have had such a great, caring, compassionate team.

Dr. Salman Fateh

A few days later, I received a call from Pat Keigher (regional director of cancer services), and she was interested in what I had to say. I just wanted her to know that from the first day that I was introduced to Dr. Fateh and the oncology team at McLaren Macomb, I knew I was in great hands.

Every patient there is treated with kindness and dignity. No matter how busy they are, we as patients are never rushed. The very first chemotherapy session I had was with Gina, the nurse practitioner, who works very close with all of the doctors at the Wahby Center. Gina is a godsend for sure. She is such an angel. She even gave me her personal cell phone number and she still checks on me regularly. If I have any questions or concerns, all I have to do is text and she responds right back.

I asked Gina in the very beginning, "How can you work with these cancer patients every day and not get overwhelmed or depressed or sad?" Her answer to me was, "Because we have the best patients in the world." What a great attitude! What a blessing for sure!

I have come to learn that with a cancer diagnosis, it is very common and natural to become anxious and depressed. Gina suggested that I meet with Kathryn Candela, the Wahby Center's oncology social worker. Well, after the first meeting with Kathryn, I came to realize that she was going to play a key role in my treatment and recovery. Kathryn does not have cancer, but her father passed away from cancer, so she understands our concerns, anxiety and fear firsthand. She organizes group therapy classes-these classes are very special indeed and we have all formed such a bond with each other and Kathryn.

Dr. Tara Eastin

We have the same love for our oncology team.

At McLaren Macomb, we are not just stats. We are real breathing, grieving, fearful, recovering, struggling people, and are treated as such.

Palliative care plays an important part in cancer. While going through treatment-and even beyond-it is most important to have someone to ease us through and make our living with cancer tolerable at the very least. Dr. Tara Eastin is a palliative care specialist and I am a patient of hers as well. She truly understands what cancer patients go through both physically and emotionally. I like the fact that she is so down to earth and very approachable. I have recently made Dr. Eastin my primary care physician.

The whole oncology team at McLaren Macomb has a tumor board meeting each week to discuss any matters or concerns dealing with any and all cancer patients. They discuss treatments, patients' concerns and address any issues or questions regarding care for their patients. If they can't figure out a solution for some, or need other opinions, they go outside to other physicians for help. That says a lot about McLaren in itself. So in my opinion through my own experience with McLaren Macomb, why go anywhere else for treatment when we can get the best care here?

So for myself, thank you to the McLaren Macomb oncology team of doctors and nurses, the awesome emergency room team of doctors and nurses and to the Breast Center team of doctors and nurses. And lastly, but not least, thanks to all the team members and volunteers who put together the most awesome fundraising event ever. "BRAvo" to all!

Terry Hunger

To learn more about the cancer care provided at McLaren Macomb, click here.