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When Beth Brendlinger of Pottstown received a diagnosis of metastatic colon cancer to the liver in 2007, she was shocked but determined to take the diagnosis head on and face the challenges that faced her.
“I was feeling fine, but a routine blood test showed that one of my liver enzymes was elevated,” explained 59 year-old Beth. “My family doctor suggested an ultrasound of my liver, and I am glad she did.”
An ultrasound followed by a biopsy performed at Pottstown Memorial Medical Center (PMMC) revealed a very large tumor in her liver. Oncologist Ronald Swaab M.D. explained that her case was difficult because the mass was pressing on her inferior vena cava, a large vein that returns blood to the heart from the lower part of the body and would make it difficult to operate until the mass could be shrunk. This could be achieved through chemotherapy treatment.
“Dr. Swaab was wonderful and spent a lot of time with me prior to treatment,” said Beth. “A staff nurse also provided patient education materials and answered all of my concerns and questions and put my mind at ease.”
Beginning June 2007, Beth received 21 months of chemotherapy at the Pottstown Memorial Regional Cancer Center (PMCC). Her side effects were mild and included a bit of fatigue, hair loss and a little nausea. “I can’t say enough about the staff at the cancer center…they became like family to me,” Beth commented. “You also develop friendships with the patients that are going through treatments; there was a bond that formed. Everyone was so hopeful, which made the whole cancer journey much easier for me to go through.”
Although Beth admits she was scared when she learned of her cancer, she had to stay strong for her family. “I wanted life to be as normal as possible. I wanted to care for my family and my house and have a normal routine each day. I set my mind to that and for the most part, was able to stick with it.”
The tumor shrunk to a degree which made her a surgical candidate for a right hepatic lobectomy. Beth proceeded with an embolization of the right portal vein to reduce blood loss during surgery, followed by the surgery at Fox Chase Cancer Center (FCCC), of which PMCC is affiliated . The surgery was successful, and she has been home growing stronger every day with no evidence of disease.
Beth is happy she was able to get the care she needed close to home and that PMMC had a relationship with FCCC where she had her surgery. “I felt that both hospitals were partnering in my care and I got the best of both. I was able to drive myself to chemotherapy because I lived so close by, which made things easier for both me and my family.”
Beth will continue to be closely monitored by her docs at both PMMC and FCCC. She attributes her strength to her faith in the Christian religion and the support of her family. “Through medicine, prayer and love, I am here today to talk about this experience and it has made me a stronger person.”
During her chemotherapy treatments she became a grandmom three times. Now she is able to take photos of her grandkids and show them off at her doctor’s visits. She enjoys vacations in Ocean City, NJ. “Life goes on and you make the best of what is handed to you. The doctors and nurses never gave up hope and neither did I. We made a great team.”