At Tufts Medical Center, we always like telling the stories of our patients who have had an above and beyond positive experience with our hospital. Sometimes we interview them, but in this case, our patient Sarah told her story so beautifully, that we wanted to share it with you word-for-word.
“The diagnosis of cancer is overwhelming. Between the shock and the amount of new information that a patient is expected to digest, it can cause one not to think clearly. Since I was lucky enough to live just South of Boston, my goal was to have all my surgeries and treatments in one of the world-renowned Boston hospitals.
So, I set up three appointments and ventured out with a notebook to meet three specialized health care teams involved in cancer care. My goal was to choose the team that offered availability (and tried to really spend time with me), had outstanding qualifications and experience, and presented a comfortable, personal style. I needed to find a team that I could speak with honestly, ask questions and trust.
My first meeting with a cancer team went well. The doctors were punctual, caring and knowledgeable. Unfortunately I left the appointment feeling uneasy about the lack of guidance being provided. I was searching for doctors that would provide advice as if I were their own daughter/sister/mother and would answer all my questions directly.
The second appointment did not go well at all. First, I walked into this huge new building but it felt like an airport terminal. The very first person I met after the receptionist was an employee (don't know what level) who was trying to convince me to sign up for a study about lymphedema. She spent 25 minutes talking to me in a small closet and measuring my arm. I didn't even know what lymphedema was at the time, so this experience sent me into a state of worry where I just wanted to run out of that airport-like building. After that, I had my vitals taken and was sent to a room where I sat in a surgical gown with my husband, daughter and best friend for 3+ hours waiting for a surgeon to come. I knew that I’d be waiting a while when they sent around a food cart with snacks so that nobody fainted while waiting. This was the norm and although this was a well-known cancer center, I felt like I was just another number. I left that appointment worrying about something called lymphedema and knowing that 2 well-known cancer centers were not going to work out for me.
My third appointment was with Dr. John Erban, Dr. Roger Graham and Cate Mullen (Nurse Coordinator) at the Tufts Cancer Center after a recommendation from my Primary Care physician, Dr. Steven Carr who is based out of the new Tufts MC Primary Care office in Quincy. It was the first time that I left an appointment where I felt relaxed, confident and my mind was clear enough to make decisions. All three medical professionals talked to me honestly and answered all my questions knowing that I was scared out of my mind. They were punctual and made me feel like I was their only patient of the day! The doctors actually listened to me and offered a tailored approach to beat this cancer according to my needs. Each one explained in simple terms my diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment plans. With a caring and confident manner, they put me at ease and offered a distinct plan of action to fight this battle.They talked to me like I was a close family member and understood that it takes a team to conquer cancer. I didn't feel alone. I was informed not only about my surgery and chemotherapy treatment plans but also about the various physical and emotional support systems as well as many resources available to get me through this journey.
I have since met Dr. Rita Sadowski and Marybeth Singer (Nurse Practitioner) and have enjoyed working as a team with all of these brilliant and compassionate professionals. There are so many more people who are part of this team...like the on-call fellow who helped me one Saturday night when I had a question, the two doctors who helped prepare me for my mastectomy the O.R. doctors/nurses who were so smart, empathetic and kind to me and the nurses on the North surgical floor who took excellent care of me after my surgery.
Needless to say, thankfully, I found the perfect team for me at Tufts Medical Center. They exceeded my expectations and definitely met my goals. Although I have not finished treatment, I have confidence in my health care providers and know that they are just a phone call away should I need help. I am grateful to be part of this committed team who really cares about me both physically and emotionally!"