Dr. Luisa Stigol (Luisa Stigol, MD, FAAP)
I was 74 years old as a pediatric practitioner and worked in a multidisciplinary team associated with Boston Children’s Hospital. After 40 years as a doctor, I still have a passion for learning and sharing new things with patients. After that, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer-an an invisible wall suddenly formed between me and the patients who used to fight together.
My diagnosis came by accident, and it was a very difficult time. Because of busy work and caring for my debilitating husband, I postponed the annual gynecological examination. After my husband passed away, I went to New York to visit my daughter Odile. I slept on the sofa bed with my daughter’s cat. One night, when the cat stepped on my abdomen, I was awakened from sleep and screamed from the severe pain. The next morning, I checked my abdomen carefully and found lumps that shouldn’t belong there.
Cancer is not new to my family. When I was 12 years old, my 32-year-old mother died of pancreatic cancer. Decades ago, my cousin was treated for cancer, and I was guarded as a caregiver. At first, I refused the request for chemotherapy because I thought I had spent a fulfilling life. However, my daughter Odile insisted that I make an appointment with the referring gynecological oncologist Dr. Ursula Matulonis (Ursula Matulonis, MD). Dr. Matulonis is currently the Director of Gynecologic Oncology in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber.
I still remember the experience of the first visit, including the room, the corridor, the bright sunshine through the windows, and my fears. At that time, I was prepared to give a reason for not accepting chemotherapy. To my surprise, after an hour and a half after the consultation, I agreed to the treatment plan. Dr. Matulonis‘ words-“We will fight cancer together”-and his friendly face are fresh in my memory. Her encouragement to me has brought tears to my eyes so far.
Learn about the treatment of gynecological cancer from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
My daughter Odile rushed to Boston from New York to perform her duties as a caregiver diligently and accompany me through every course of chemotherapy. In addition to treatment, Dana-Farber also carried out a series of activities to assist patients in their diagnosis and rehabilitation, from which I chose to write. I know the comfort of writing, so I decided to continue writing memoirs. Whether alone or with the help of a nurse in the apartment, the computer is my support. I write something every day, sometimes at three o’clock in the morning.
The IV nurses who take care of me are like angels. The side effects of chemotherapy are unbearable, so I can’t do any activities for a long time. I used to think that the cards of “May You Heal” are a unique irrational trend in the United States, but now they have become the bond between me and my patients. The children’s drawings (on the card) make me smile all day long.
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