A year ago, Gloria Thompson, 70, visited her primary care physician to get a refill of her prescription. It was then that her physician noticed that Gloria’s lymph nodes were swollen and urged her to get them checked out.
Arnbjorn Toset, MD, a head and neck cancer surgeon at Good Samaritan University Hospital, performed an initial examination. After ordering an extensive workup, Gloria’s diagnosis became clear – metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Gloria says when she received this diagnosis, her initial reaction was to feel numb. She hadn’t seen something like this coming. “But I have faith in God,” she says, “and he gave me the best three doctors someone could ask for. I had faith that I would be okay.”
Dr. Toset performed a tonsil resection on Gloria, placed an Infusaport for chemotherapy and referred her to radiation oncology and medical oncology. Gloria was to receive six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. “Head and neck cancer is very complicated, and the treatment is very hard on patients,” says Dr. Toset. But Gloria trusted in him and the team at Good Samaritan University Hospital.
Of Dr. Toset and his colleagues, John Loscalzo, MD, Ashish Sangal, MD, and Johnny Kao, MD, Gloria is effusive with her praise. “They’re the dream team,” she says. “There wasn’t a thing they wouldn’t do for us. They made sure every test and every procedure were done perfectly.” Gloria successfully completed her course of treatment, her metastatic cancer responding well to chemotherapy and radiation. She reports feeling better every day and credits the care she received.
But as fate would have it, the team at Good Samaritan University Hospital would be called upon again. Ronald Thompson, 73, had accompanied his wife Gloria to her 3-month follow-up at Dr. Toset’s office. Though it wasn’t Ronald’s appointment, Dr. Toset noticed and inspected a lesion on Ronald’s ear that turned out to be a basal cell skin carcinoma. “I knew it was cancer before any testing was even done. This is a very common, treatable condition,” says Dr. Toset, “but Ronald was having more symptoms and mentioned having what he called ‘sympathy pains’ in his neck and some trouble swallowing food.” Acting quickly, Dr. Toset ordered additional tests and found a tumor in Ronald’s throat similar to the one Gloria had. After a more extensive workup, the diagnosis came in. “Crazy enough,” he says, “he had the same unusual head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.” Ronald received the same course of treatment, which he has just recently successfully completed and is doing well and recovering.
Gloria shared some final thoughts about the care she and her husband received now that they are both in recovery: “I wouldn’t go anywhere else. They were more like family than doctors – kind, caring, and considerate. Whenever I speak with them, I tell them ‘I love you.’ I have great faith in Jesus, and he put us in the right hands.”