Healthcare 360: Finding Community After a Cancer Diagnosis

February 14, 2024

Podcast: A Patient's Perspective to Finding Community

On this week’s episode of Healthcare 360: Patient Perspective, a new subseries of Healthcare 360 focusing on patient stories, Dr. Rob Fields sits down with Dr. Marisa Kearney, a physician at Winchester Hospital, to discuss her experience as a cancer patient.

An Unexpected Diagnosis

Dr. Kearney had just finished a night shift in the emergency department when she went to get a routine MRI scan for dense breast tissue. She had no family history of breast cancer and didn’t give the test a second thought before going about her day per usual. However, when her test results appeared in her patient portal, the word “malignancy” caught her eye and her world came to a stop. She let herself have a good cry before contacting her breast surgery specialist, Dr. Kelly Cornell, to gather her resources and arrange for a biopsy.

Kearney’s husband flew home from a work trip right away and accompanied her to an appointment with Dr. Cornell where they discussed next steps and Dr. Cornell wrote everything down because she knew it was a lot of information to process.

“I still have that piece of paper,” Kearney says, “And I kept a really detailed journal of everything along the way, but that piece of paper told me everything that I didn’t hear about what was going on.”

Next on her journey would be waiting for the results of the biopsy and going from there.

A Safe Place in Winchester Hospital

Though Kearney had been to other hospitals to get second opinions, once her breast cancer was diagnosed, she found real community at Winchester Hospital.

“Whether or not they know me as a physician or just any other patient, I think we treat patients like they’re our family,” she says. And they did exactly that.

“That hand holding literally, like putting their arm around you as you’re crying or holding your hands going into anesthesia, all of those connections just put you at ease.”

The personal connection she received from her providers at the hospital was what helped her find safety during that tumultuous time in her life. These days, Kearney is in remission and tries to lead with positivity, easing herself back into work and filling her life with “energy givers.”

Bi-monthly, we’ll chat with patients to hear their stories and learn more about their experience with the healthcare system. Listen to the full conversation with Dr. Kearney here, and check in regularly for new episodes of Healthcare 360: Patient Perspective.

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