For 35 years, OHC (Oncology Hematology Care Inc.) employees have touched the hearts of their patients and their family members. OHC patient Mary Kleespies is a perfect example.
After close monitoring of pre-cancerous cells by her gynecologist, Anne Pierson, MD, Mary was referred to OHC’s Dené C. Wrenn, MD, gynecologic oncologist, for follow-up to abnormal test results. Mary was also seen by OHC’s Sarah C. Wilson, MSN, APRN, gynecologic oncology advanced practice provider who discovered upon a thorough exam that Mary had a significant family history of cancer. Her mother had breast cancer twice and head and neck cancer. Her maternal grandmother and maternal aunt both had ovarian cancer. Without hesitation, Sarah referred Mary for genetic testing. “Sarah saved my life,” says Mary.
Mary tested positive for the BRCA1 gene and quickly made plans for a preventative hysterectomy and mastectomy, as well as reconstructive surgery. However, things did not go according to plan when a routine pre-operative x-ray that Dr. Wrenn ordered revealed Mary had an abnormal spot on her lung. Mary had quit smoking 10 years ago.
Mary was immediately referred to OHC’s Patrick J. Ward, MD, PhD, medical oncologist, lung cancer specialist and co-director of OHC’s research program. After a biopsy, the team met with Mary to review the results. She had stage 1 lung cancer. When Mary first learned she had cancer, her mind started racing. She immediately moved into “let’s get this taken care of” mode, and her OHC team was ready.
“It was a powerful moment and the doctors truly showed they were equally concerned about my mental well-being and easing my worry. That’s when I knew this team of doctors was working for me,” remembers Mary. “There was great communication with the team members. That’s so key when you’re going through something like this, when you don’t know where to turn. And it isn’t just the doctors but everyone on the staff communicated so thoroughly. They made sure I knew what to expect at every step of the process. I can’t say enough about the team. I could talk to the doctors like I would a friend. Every question I had, I was provided with the answers. I didn’t have to look anywhere else. They were like a second family.”
Thankfully, Mary’s early-stage cancer was treatable. In all, Mary underwent multiple life-saving procedures and treatments: a mastectomy; reconstructive surgery; a hysterectomy; a portion of her lung was removed, chemotherapy and a clinical trial. Mary credits the OHC team’s expert detailed attention and oversight with saving her life.
“I had no symptoms, so I never would have found the lung cancer until it was too late had the wonderful doctors at OHC not encouraged me to complete BRCA testing,” she continues. “There are so many positives in all of this. I feel blessed that the cancer was discovered and that it was stage 1. I feel great now.”
“I underwent chemo and then was enrolled in a highly successful clinical trial. The care has been amazing. It truly has. They saved my life. I’m feeling great and I’m not on any medicine now.”
Mary remembers being impressed by the emotional support and advocacy they provided, in addition to their expert care.
“I was waiting on my PET scan results. The waiting is tormenting. We were getting ready to go to a Bob Seger concert on a Friday evening when Dr. Wrenn called me at home to check on me. I shared my concern and she said, ‘Let me check to see if the results are back.’ She got back on the phone and said, ‘I have the results and your cancer has not spread anywhere.’ My boyfriend looked at me and said the look on my face was of pure joy.”
Mary attributes her joy to her team at OHC. “Find a team of doctors who will work with you and make you feel comfortable and confident and is with you every step of the way.”
To learn more about OHC’s doctors, services and clinical trials, or to request a second opinion, visit ohcare.com or contact them at 1.888.649.4800.
OHC (Oncology Hematology Care) is the region’s leading experts in the treatment of nearly every form of adult cancer and complex blood disorders. OHC offers the latest medical, gynecologic and radiation therapy, and is always seeking better treatment options through its nationally-recognized clinical trials program. OHC is the only independent adult cancer practice to offer the ground-breakng CAR-T therapy for adults. OHC is certified by the American Society of Clinical Oncology in the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative Certification Program and is one of only a select few cancer practices nationally to be accepted to participate in the Oncology Care Model, part of The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation Center. At its heart, our approach to cancer care is simple– to surround you with everything you need so you can focus on what matters most: beating cancer.