Long-Term Survivors Face Unique Emotional, Physical Issues Norfolk, Va, - October 16, 2008 -
Phillip Engel of Virginia Beach has been living with cancer for more than 11 years. Diagnosed in 1997 with Indolent (slow growing) non-Hodgkins lymphoma
, Engel’s doctors told him he had a terminal disease and recommended the traditional ‘watch and wait’ approach until symptoms appeared.
Engel and his wife, Sandy, were thunderstruck. Married just two years, with five children between them, the diagnosis threw them onto what he calls an ‘emotional roller coaster’ of hope and despair.
“I was headstrong for alternative therapies,” Engel recalls. He embarked on a ‘radical diet plan’ and flew to Texas for $20,000 worth of ineffective alternative therapies.
“I wasted a lot of money,” Engel admits. Within two months of diagnosis, symptoms appeared and Engel was hospitalized with severe bloating and pain.
Over time, he lost 60 pounds and started having hallucinations. Twice, his doctors predicted he would not live through the night and advised Sandy to call the family together to say their goodbyes. Phillip and Sandy are both convinced he survived through the grace of God and the prayers of family, friends and church.
A physician recommended that Phillip have a stem cell transplant, but the specialist who saw him said he was too weak to survive the procedure and instead tried three different chemotherapy combinations before finding one that reversed the cancer.
“There was this cloud over me,” Engel recalls. “You could not make plans. It was always in the back of my mind.”
The normal course of Engel’s type of lymphoma is to flare up and go into remission after treatment. He’s had multiple courses of chemotherapy. He’s lost his hair, twice. He’s had repeated CT and PET/CT scans to monitor the disease.
Finally, after surviving much longer that expected, Phillip told Sandy, “Let’s start living like we have a future.”
When he was diagnosed, Phil Engel sold his small business and applied for disability. He was 45. Now 56, he worries about how the lost income may affect their retirement years, assuming they have them together.
“You have no idea what it’s like until you’re in it,” Engel says. “There are real-life ugly issues and emotional turmoil.” Yet, Engel is grateful for having survived, so far.
The ‘Path to Survivorship’ series planned by Sentara Cancer Network
offers useful information for cancer survivors and their families on what to expect and how to cope.
Series topics, dates, locations Tuesday, October 28, 2008
– Virginia Oncology Associates
, Lake Wright, Norfolk – Topic: The Power of Your Thoughts – Facilitator: Louise Lubin, PhD., Clinical Psychologist. Tuesday, November 18, 2008
– Sentara CarePlex Hospital,
Hampton – Topic: Managing Anxiety and Depression – Facilitator: Louise Lubin, PhD. Tuesday, December 9, 2008 – Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital
– Topic: Cancer is a Family Affair – Facilitator: Louise Lubin, PhD. Tuesday, January 27, 2009 – Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center
– Topic: Financial and Employment Issues – Facilitator: Connie Slayton, RN, BSN, Patient Services Manager, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Tuesday, February 24, 2009 – Sentara Obici Hospital
, Suffolk – Topic: Stress Management, Learning to Relax – Facilitator: Louise Lubin, PhD. Tuesday, March 24, 2009 –
Sentara CarePlex Hospital, Hampton – Topic: Nutrition, Now what? – Facilitator: Cassondra Hoenig, Registered Dietitian. Tuesday, April 28, 2009 –
Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital - Topic: Long-term effects of Cancer treatment – (Facilitator: TBA) Tuesday, May 26, 2009 –
Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center – Topic: Sexuality after Cancer – Facilitator: Dr. Johnny Hyde, Virginia Oncology Associates
June (No program) Tuesday, July 28, 2009 –
Sentara CarePlex Hospital, Hampton – Topic: New Trends in Cancer diagnostics and treatment – Facilitator: Dr. Paul Conkling, Virginia Oncology Associates. All sessions are from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. Refreshments provided. Sessions are free, but, registration is required by calling 1-800-SENTARA
(You can attend one or all of the sessions, but each session requires registration.) Sentara Legacy Society funding Cancer Survivorship series
Funding for the ‘Path to Survivorship’ series is being provided by the Sentara Legacy Society. The Sentara Legacy Society supports projects reflecting Sentara’s mission of improving health, by providing new technologies, programs and best practices in healthcare for the Hampton Roads community.
For program information, contact Connie Bush, RN, Community Outreach coordinator at Sentara CarePlex at 827-2438 – or - Helen Mansfield, RN, oncology nurse coordinator at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital at 395-8685. 39/2008