Lisa Dumont, a Webster resident, had no idea she had such an extensive family history of breast cancer. But after an abnormal mammogram and biopsy, a relative filled her in that both her maternal grandmother and aunt were diagnosed with breast cancer at 56 – ironically, the exact same age as Lisa when she received her diagnosis in October 2016: a triple negative receptor (Stage I breast cancer) with negative-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Before getting a lumpectomy at UMass, she sought a second opinion at St. Vincent Hospital. But after her surgery, she was frank with her doctor about going through treatment.
“I told her: ‘I’m not a fan of the commute into Worcester. I hear there’s a Cancer Center in Southbridge,’” Dumont said.
Even though she grew up in central Massachusetts, Lisa spent many years in the Oxford area and received a lot of her medical care in the city. But since moving to Webster, she wanted an easier option.
“I had a lot of friends telling me to go to Boston, to go to Dana Farber,” Dumont said. “But I can’t even begin to explain how grateful I am that we chose Harrington.”
In fact, Dumont said, after her initial consultation with Harrington oncologist Dr. Christopher Seidler, she did seek a second opinion at Dana Farber for her lymphoma treatment.
“It was the longest day of my life,” she remembers. “I didn’t find the facility to be warm or inviting… and even though the doctor was nice, the drive took forever. And they told me the exact same thing Dr. Seidler had.”
Lisa began chemotherapy on the second floor with Harrington staff and nurses. Soon thereafter, she also began daily radiation treatments with Dr. Fitzgerald and 21st Century Oncology, which is housed on the first floor of the 55 Sayles Street building.
“I remember the first day; it would be easy to want to feel nervous. But instantly, you are put at ease. Harrington’s staff is so friendly and wonderful,” Dumont said.
She received her initial chemotherapy consultation from Chief Infusion Nurse Heather, who went over “every single detail you could have imagined!” As she began treatment, Lisa’s main nurse was Amy. “She was absolutely amazing.”
Lisa’s husband accompanied her to almost every single one of her treatments, and Lisa said the staff went above and beyond to also make him feel comfortable.
“They waited on him, they treated him like family,” she stated.
Lisa took advantage of the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good … Feel Better” program, one of the free support services offered to all patients at the Cancer Center.
“It was a small group of us and it felt intimate; they were so helpful. And they gave you whatever you needed – makeup or scarfs – for free!” Lisa explained.
As proof of the truly compassionate care the Harrington Cancer Center staff displays, Lisa said at one of her follow-up appointments she hurt her knee walking into the building – to the point where her husband ended up wheeling her into the building and exam room.
“When Dr. Seidler came in, he was so concerned about my knee, we ended up talking about it the whole time and he made a referral for me to see someone before I left,” Lisa remembered. “Later in the day, I had to call the office and remind him we didn’t even discuss what I came to my appointment for! He was genuinely so worried about this other thing that happened to me; it was really an incredible testament to the one-on-one care you receive there.”
Lisa shared a sentiment not unfamiliar to other patients who have gone through treatment at the Cancer Center.
“The last day of my chemo, I brought in cupcakes because I did feel it was a special celebration. But, I also felt really sad. It’s weird. You can’t imagine not seeing them every day; they do become family,” she said, adding she has since become Facebook friends with some of the nurses.
Lisa said she now tells everyone she can about Harrington and encourages people to go there for treatment. “From someone who has been to Worcester, been to Boston and been to Southbridge, I would choose The Cancer Center at Harrington again and again and again – no question.”