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Retired Nurse becomes grateful patient during treatment for lymphoma

Oct 16, 2023

In mid-2022, Mary Esther Fritz of Barnsboro wasn’t feeling well and had been experiencing some dizziness. One day, after she had taken a minor fall, she asked a neighbor to take her to the ER at Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill.

Mary Esther

Mary Esther had a feeling something wasn’t right. Her instinct was accurate.

Mary Esther was seen by hospitalist Charlton Olayemi, M.D., and admitted for testing.

“Dr. O - that’s what he told me I could call him - was great. I mean, the man was unbelievable,” Mary Esther said. “The care that he gave me in the hospital was unreal. After I was discharged, he called me, at home, to tell me that a CT scan had shown enlarged lymph nodes and to refer me to an oncologist.”

A few days later, after a biopsy, Mary Esther learned that testing had confirmed the presence of a lymphoma.

“I had cancer,” she said.

Mary Esther made an appointment to see Erev Tubb, M.D., FACP, medical director of the Leading Edge Cancer Center at Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill. She said that her treatment plan was put into place immediately and seamlessly.

“By the time I talked to Dr. Tubb, he already knew all about me from Dr. O. That was amazing,” Mary Esther said.

As a retired registered nurse of nearly fifty years, Mary Esther said that her experience as a health care professional, and a personal tendency to act quickly when confronting a challenge, blended well with her care team.

“I wanted to attack this problem head on and get things going as quickly as possible. Dr. Tubb supported that,” she said.

She said that she appreciated the straightforward way in which he told her things she needed to know.

“He listens to you. He encourages you. He’s honest with you. He answered I don’t know how many questions,” she said. “I don’t always tell people I was in health care. He was patient with me, but also realistic. He’s very calm, cool, and collected and just had a way of delivering not great news in a sensitive way. I never felt rushed. Everyone in that office has the patience of a saint.”

She said that both the clinical and support staff at the Leading-Edge Cancer Center at Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill were also helpful, not only answering medical questions, but also dealing with insurance issues and getting treatment options approved.

“They made many phone calls to me and on my behalf. They explained things in a way anyone can understand. And they really kept an eye on everything,” she said.

“Even the reception area was welcoming,” she said. “Getting off the elevator, you might not be in the best mood going there. But it wasn’t dull or drab or too sterile looking. It was even decorated for the holiday season. And though everyone always protected my privacy, they also greeted me warmly and made me feel welcomed.”

When Mary Esther began chemotherapy treatment at the infusion center at Inspira Mullica Hill, she received the same level of personalized, compassionate care that she had experienced previously at Inspira.

She said all the staff members did everything they could to make her experience less stressful and more comfortable.

“They asked me, ‘Can we get you a blanket?’ Do you need something to eat?’” she said. “I had a chronic cough for a while, and they would check on me all the time. If I rang the bell, they were right there to make sure I was OK. All the nurses and techs, they know who you are. The people signing you in know who you are. They are all intertwined. They’re a team!”

Perhaps the best news is that Mary Esther’s most recent scans show she is in remission. She is following up regularly with Dr. Tubb.

She said of her experience at Inspira, “These people came into my life at a really bad time, but I was so pleased at how I was treated by everyone. They supported me. They treated me like a human, not just a patient. Every single person I met was that way. They were all professional, kind, and caring.”

Topics: Cancer Care