From OHC

December 1, 2023

Dealing with an autoimmune disease for the last three years, our second OHC employee reflects on becoming an OHC patient and is thankful for the care she received and the impact it has had.

Theresa Duckwall is the Revenue Cycle Supervisor and supports the new patient scheduling department at OHC.  In 2021, Theresa knew she had blood clots in her legs and lungs, but was also experiencing shortness of breath and was admitted to the hospital.  Her primary care provider referred her to OHC medical oncologist and hematologist, Mark E. Johns, MD.  “Theresa was iron-deficient and anemic after her stint in the hospital, so we put her on blood thinners and an oral iron supplement to improve those numbers, which seems to have worked well,” adds Dr. Johns.  “While reviewing her scans, we felt there was reason to perform a CA 125 blood test, which looks for proteins in the body caused by ovarian cancer.  Unfortunately, we found a mass on her ovary which would require surgery.  While we felt it was benign, it was large and we couldn’t know for sure without tests,” comments Dr. Johns.

Dr. Johns referred Theresa to his colleague, gynecologic oncologist Ajit Gubbi, DO.  With Dr. Gubbi’s expert advice, Theresa chose to have a full hysterectomy to remove the mass.  “Theresa is family and when she was in need, I was happy to be a part of her care team.  We removed the mass on her ovary and confirmed it was benign and would not require follow-up treatment at this time,” adds Dr. Gubbi.

“Dr. Johns is amazing, and I knew him from working for OHC for so long.  He is great and I was very happy to have him as my doctor,” says Theresa.   She’s also incredibly thankful for the care provided by Dr. Gubbi.  “He was so kind and compassionate to me.  The care he gave me after my surgery, I’d never felt so comfortable, secure, and just good, no pain, all because of the time he took to make sure I was taken care of,” adds Theresa.  She was so grateful she nominated him for Cancer Family Care Joslin Haggart Yeiser Unsung Hero Award.  “He gave me the best care I could have hoped for, and he deserved to be recognized for his work,” comments Theresa.

Theresa talks about the people of OHC and the compassion the doctors and nurses have for their patients.  After working here for 22 years, there’s a reason she has stayed with OHC.  “I really cannot imagine working anywhere else.  It takes a special person to take care of the sick and the way that everyone here cares for people, that’s not something you’re going to find anywhere else.  From the front desk, the nurses, the doctors, the administration, everyone cares about what they do and the mission of OHC to fight cancer.  I can’t thank the doctors and nurses enough for the care they gave me,” explains Theresa.

Theresa has realized that the experience she had has changed the way she approaches her job at OHC.  “I’ve always been compassionate and understanding when I’m speaking with patients, but I’d never really put myself in their shoes when it came to the experience.  I now look at my job, as the first point of contact for new patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer, and recognize how nervous they must be,” explains Theresa.  Since that experience, Theresa has reiterated to her team the importance of compassion when speaking with patients who are unsure of the next steps.  “I’m thankful for the ability to make a difference in patients’ lives by applying my experience to improving theirs.”

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