Melanoma survivor recounts treatment with gratitude

Susan Hines Cancer Survivor
Susan Hines

Editor’s note: Susan Hines was treated at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Wake Forest Baptist. She contacted the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, writing “I wish that everyone in North Carolina was able to experience the excellent care that you receive at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.” In this letter, she shares her thoughts about her treatment and care.

In August 2006, I was diagnosed with melanoma. My husband, Tony, and I didn’t really know what I was facing, but we were referred to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to see Dr. John Stewart at the Comprehensive Cancer Center.

We heard back from the CCC and were set up quickly for an appointment to meet Dr. Stewart and discuss the options for surgery. Of course, by then I had started some Internet research and was panicking! But Dr. Stewart put our fears to rest. He answered my entire list of questions and did his best to reassure us. Surgery was set for two weeks later, in September 2006.

From that very first visit throughout the blood-work visits, meetings to discuss financial arrangements and a sentinel node biopsy in Nuclear Medicine, everyone we dealt with were the nicest and most helpful people we’ve ever met. We were always seen in a timely manner near the appointment time in all departments.

The surgery went well, and Dr. Stewart made sure he got all of the cancer, even if it meant taking a bit more of me than he wanted. Here I am nearly seven years later, still around to tell people how blessed I am to have been treated at the CCC at Wake Forest Baptist.

I spent four days in the hospital after surgery, and I had exceptional care. My husband was comfortable going home at night, knowing that my nurses would take care of my every need. Tony has been treated at other hospitals and knows that most large hospitals treat you as a number. Not Wake Forest Baptist.

Once I went home, when I had concerns, I e-mailed Dr. Stewart and sometimes sent him pictures by e-mail when I felt changes were occurring that he needed to see. I always heard back promptly, and I was able to get an appointment to come in immediately when it was warranted.

I continue to receive follow-up care at the Comprehensive Cancer Center as needed. Every time I go to this hospital, I am always amazed by the kindness and helpfulness of everyone, from the janitors to the physicians. If you look lost or confused, they are quick to offer directions and help. It’s so needed and appreciated when you’re scared and facing the unknown.

Tony and I have since moved and we live almost two hours away now, but I never mind making the trip each year to have my check up. It’s always a quick and painless process. I always see the doctors and others at the time set up for my appointment.

I simply wouldn’t go anyplace else.

Susan and Tony Hines
Raleigh, N.C.

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