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Severe hiccups lead to cancer diagnosis
When David Kershaw, a 71-year-old retired South Jersey teacher, felt mild to moderate chest discomfort that didn’t resolve the weekend before Christmas last year, he knew he needed to act.
“As we get older, there’s a tendency to just live with aches and pains,” David said. “We think we’re still in our thirties and maybe pulled a muscle or something. But I have a family history of cardiac issues, so I went to Inspira in Mullica Hill.”
That decision may have saved his life.
“They took me in immediately and did an EKG. Within less than ten minutes I was in a private room in the ER, connected to a heart monitor and being seen by Dr. Gué [cardiologist Jean B. Gué, M.D., a member provider of Cooper and Inspira Cardiac Care].”
David was admitted to the hospital and the next morning, he had a stress test, under the care of interventional cardiologist Ashfaque Ali Unwala, M.D., also a member provider with the Cooper and Inspira Cardiac Care network.
“I only got about six minutes in when I started to become short of breath,” David said. “Doctor Unwala didn’t like what he was seeing and scheduled me for a cardiac catheterization the next morning.”
Two of David’s arteries were nearly completely blocked. He had angioplasty and two stents placed and was sent home to recover, with follow-up care scheduled for the next week. As part of his recovery plan, David began cardiac rehabilitation at Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill.
“It is a beautiful facility. I am already receiving excellent care and concern for my rehabilitation by everyone involved,” he said.
David said he has made lifestyle changes and is feeling well.
“I hike, I walk the dog more, I bike. I’m more conscious of my breathing and not dismissing any symptoms I might have. My wife, Linda, has done a great job with our nutrition.”
David believes this is the second time that Inspira has saved his life.
In early 2015, David started to have hiccups that wouldn’t stop.
“We were trying to paint a few rooms in our house and the hiccups got so frequent and intense that I was having trouble holding a paint roller still,” he said. “I went to Inspira in Woodbury.”
David was seen by emergency physician Marc Flores, D.O., who then consulted oncologist Tami Bach, M.D., and a general surgeon.
“I wasn’t quite comprehending what was happening! I thought it was just hiccups. But I was admitted to the hospital and, after more tests over the next few days, I got a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I had cancer. It turns out that a tumor was compressing my diaphragm and causing the hiccups,” David said.
After successful surgery and six months of chemotherapy, David said he felt lucky that he didn’t ignore the symptoms he was having and that the care team at Inspira had acted so quickly.
“I’m a two-time winner,” David said.
But David’s connection to Inspira, where he had been receiving regular health care for many years, had taken an interesting turn; one that he wasn’t even aware of, at first.
In mid-2022 David had been having casual conversations with someone he described as “just a nice person sitting next to me in church” in Mullica Hill.
“For a number of weeks, I had been chatting with a woman I had just met,” he said. “Eventually someone asked me if I knew who I was talking with. I said, ‘Yea, her name is Amy’.”
It was then that he learned that for more than a month he had been talking with Amy Mansue, president and chief executive officer of Inspira Health.
“She never said a word about it until I brought it up and told her about my 2015 experience. Of course, at that time, in mid-2022, I had no idea I was about to have a second go-round with Inspira!”
David told Amy how thankful he was for the care he had received at Inspira during his cancer treatment years earlier. He then took the time to send her a note that read, in part:
“For the second time, the team from Inspira saved my life. The experience from start to recovery has been flawless. The care from doctors, nurses, techs and support staff has been amazing. Communication to me concerning test results, as well as planned procedures, was continuous and up to date. Every member of the team and staff were courteous, caring and available. My room was clean and well attended. Support staff were ready to help in every aspect of my care. (Food service was great, love the new process and menu). Under your guidance the Inspira Health [system] has grown to be a regional health [provider] that the people of south Jersey are lucky to have available. From the bottom of my repaired heart, Thank you for your leadership.”
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