“I would have missed a year of my son’s life…his baseball games, his band concerts. Instead, I was present for that, and I am forever grateful.”
It started with a pain in her side. Loren Ebert, a stay-at-home mom with a side business in cake decorating, had always been healthy, but after a few weeks of persistent pain, she visited the walk-in clinic not far from her home. The doctor on call sent her immediately to the emergency room for further tests, and a few days later, a mass the size of a baseball was removed from Loren’s intestines, along with 14 lymph nodes. The diagnosis: Stage III colon cancer.
Loren’s surgeon referred her to Dr. Jeff Vacirca at the New York Cancer & Blood Specialists (then called North Shore Hematology Oncology Associates), and 30 days later, Loren began a six-month, 12-treatment cycle of chemo. Following each treatment, she would go home with a pump inserted into her chest, slowly delivering more chemo. After two days, she would return to have the pump removed.
When treatment finished, Loren enjoyed 10 months of remission, before a routine scan picked up small spots on her liver and two lymph nodes, resulting in another 12 treatments of chemo. Then, in early March 2017, a second spot appeared on her liver. Loren was scheduled for a third chemo round, this time six treatments, plus a special procedure that involves depositing radiated seeds directly into the tumor.
Through it all, Loren has never lost her positive attitude or upbeat sense of humor. When the harsh medication she was taking caused her to develop bad face acne, she laughed at the irony, saying, “I never had pimples as an adolescent, and now, all of a sudden I look like a pizza! Yet at the same time, I’ve never felt better in my life.”
According to Loren, the treatment she’s received at her community oncology practice has been outstanding. “I walk in, and it feels like when Norm would walk into the bar on Cheers – everybody knows my name. It’s really like my second home. And the nurses were absolutely stellar. They were more than nurses – they were also therapists, best friends and mothers, all wrapped up into one. I’ve seen them do amazing things with their patients, most of whom are elderly people in need of TLC. I cannot say enough good things about them.”
Having everything under one roof has been a great advantage, as has the fact that Dr. Vacirca’s office is just a 10-minute drive from Loren’s home. “Once every two weeks I go for chemo, and then two days later, I return to get hydrated,” explains Loren. “Often, people who get treated at a city hospital can’t do that – they can’t get on the train and lose an entire day twice in one week. It also enables my husband to drive me to my appointments, without losing time at work.”
Most importantly, it’s enabled the couple to keep life for their 10-year old son as normal as possible.
“If I had needed to go into New York City each time, I would have missed a year of my son’s life…his baseball games, his band concerts. Instead, I was able to be present, and for that, I am forever grateful.”