Pat Gaunce went to the doctor with an earache and a raspy throat, fully expecting to walk out with a prescription for antibiotics.
"Thank goodness Dr. Girod wasn't one of those take-2-aspirin-and-call-me-in-the-morning doctors," says Pat. After a thorough exam, otolaryngologist Doug Girod, MD, told Pat she might have a malignancy in her throat.
"It was the shock of all shocks," says Pat. "I called home and all I could say was, 'I have cancer.'"
For the next 5 days, Pat went through 7 biopsies, an MRI and surgery, and learned she had stage 2 large B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It wasn't until after surgery that she felt the full weight of the diagnosis, just as a food service worker brought her ice for her throat.
"She asked if I was doing okay and I said, 'I'm going to die,' and I just started sobbing," remembers Pat. "She put her arms around me and said, 'Miss, here we're in the business of helping people live, not letting them die.' That was so powerful to me."
They gave me reason to hope. – Pat Gaunce
Pat's treatment included 5 months of chemotherapy and 2 months of daily radiation. She had a bone marrow biopsy, a spinal tap and, after overestimating her own progress, had to make a trip to the emergency department for a blood patch. And through it all, she was met with a true commitment to patient care.
"I never met anyone who didn't continually reassure me that I was going to leave that treatment with a cure. Their focus is in excellence in patient care and it shows — from techs to nurses, from food service workers to the specialists," says Pat. "They gave me a reason to hope."
Today, Pat is in full remission.
"I've come out of it with a new hairdo and a mission to be there for someone else, like so many people were for me," she says.