From OHC, Specialists in the Treatment of Adult Cancers and Blood Disorders
July 16, 2021
If there was an OHC fan club, Pat Roettger would be the President. Since 2002, Pat has received four different cancer diagnoses, but that hasn’t stopped her from being a beacon of optimism to the OHC community since her introduction to it in 2015. A loyal OHC Facebook fan, Pat frequently comments on posts to congratulate patients on a final chemotherapy treatment, offer words of encouragement to someone receiving a new treatment, or thank a donor for an act of kindness.
Pat’s glass-half-full outlook jumps off the Facebook page, but to meet her in person is a special treat. During a recent OHC visit, she wore a sequined facemask and shoes, freely gave out hugs, and sung OHC’s praises. To help others, she shared her story.
Originally from the Cincinnati region, Pat was living in Florida in 2002 when her routine gynecological exam revealed possible ovarian cancer. Receiving her care in Florida, she had a hysterectomy, and four years later, she had a lower colon resection to remove colon cancer.
Multiple myeloma has been Pat’s most challenging diagnosis. In 2014, her primary care doctor was concerned about the results of her bloodwork and recommended she be evaluated at Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida. That October, she had a stem cell transplant for multiple myeloma followed by a regimen of Revlimid, an oral therapy. She moved back to the Cincinnati area in 2015 so her daughter could care for her. After receiving recommendations from friends, she began to see OHC’s Dr. Paula F. Weisenberger, MD, a well-respected medical oncologist and hematologist in the Butler County community.
“After my transplant, I was tired and didn’t have an appetite, but I needed to motivate myself to get going and set long-term goals,” said Pat. While she remained symptom-free for three-and-a-half years, Pat’s blood counts became concerning again. Dr. Weisenberger recommended Pat see her colleague, OHC’s Dr. Edward A. Faber, Jr., DO, MS, a medical oncologist, blood and marrow transplant specialist, cellular therapy expert, and principal investigator for OHC’s multiple myeloma clinical trials. Dr. Faber hoped to administer a second transplant for Pat; however, her myeloma did not respond well to established therapies that normally prepare a patient’s myeloma prior to transplant.
“I felt safe with Dr. Faber,” said Pat. “He always had so many options for me. OHC has so many tools. I was confident that they’d use whatever resources they had to help me.”
“Oncology today is a two-way street,” said Dr. Faber. “As providers, we learn from our patients as much as we should be able to instruct our patients. Pat’s trust, optimism, and openness to new therapies has contributed to better than expected outcomes. For Pat, participation in clinical trials was not the last hope. It allowed for control of her myeloma longer, while extending the use of other therapies into the future. She is now on a treatment regimen using a combination of three therapies that is normally used earlier in the treatment of myeloma patients. The benefit is additive. Sequencing new promising therapies among standards of care allows patients to live longer with good quality of life.”
A pillar of strength, Pat never gave up hope despite a diagnosis of thyroid cancer in 2018. Both lobes containing the cancer were removed. Pat’s fight is now to gain complete remission with her multiple myeloma.
While Pat does suffer with neuropathy in her hands and feet as a side effect from her treatment, this doesn’t stop her from staying active. “It’s important for me to keep moving, eating, and drinking,” said Pat. While she emphasizes the importance of exercise, Pat is keenly aware that she is lucky because she can get out of bed and does not have pain. She resides with her mother in what she lovingly refers to as a “granny pod” on 26 acres in Hamilton that her daughter owns. She’s never lonely and discovered that staying social helps her healing process. “I always recommend that other patients remain social,” said Pat. “Getting a transplant is overwhelming. When I share my story on Facebook or with patients I meet, I show them that they aren’t alone. We help each other with our stories. Staying connected with others is so important.”
Pat can sum up what OHC means to her in one word: HOPE. “They are trying to give patients more time and working towards a positive outcome,” said Pat. “I know they always have a new treatment available. Now, I can be a source of hope to others seeking a different way to help themselves by telling them to go to OHC for a second opinion.”
Her long-term goals have become a bucket list. One of her aspirations was to see her first granddaughter graduate from high school, and she did that this past spring. “Don’t lose hope,” said Pat. “Feel blessed when your doctor gives you options for treatment. Trust in your medical team is 90% of the fight.”
Top picture: Pat Roettger (right) and her daughter, Connie McDulinComments (0)