No need to leave McKeesport for cancer treatment, survivor says
Cancer survivor Jo Ellen Kenney said there is no need to seek treatment outside of McKeesport when diagnosed with the potentially deadly disease.
“When you hear the word cancer, stay here in McKeesport and have faith in the experts,” she told the group attending the Cancer Care Symposium at UPMC McKeesport on Friday. “They will know if you have to move on to another facility.”
Kenney, the director of the Carnegie Library of McKeesport, was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago.
“The doctors I was involved with were able to talk to me as a pretty dumbed-down person,” she said, noting it took a couple months before things started making sense. “When I was diagnosed I was pretty much scared to death.”
She said she was asked many times in those initial weeks if she was going to seek a second opinion. But she never did.
“I told them that as soon I have any doubts about what they are doing I would get a second opinion,” Kenney said. “I trusted these people very quickly and never had any doubts. During my dumb period, they kept explaining my choices to me, and the end result.”
She praised her medical team, especially those in the radiation department.
“They made such a difference in what I had to go through,” she said. “They were so patient and kind. I wanted everything to be over in a minute. The people in the radiation department were the kindest people during such a terrible time.”
On two occasions, she thought she would have to miss a treatment.
“I was devastated,” she said. “I knew it was supposed to be over in 33 days. I had that in my head and I didn't want to get my 33 days messed up.
“The first time it happened, they called at the end of the day and said I could come in for my treatment, so that my 33 days would still be good. They knew my target date and did what they could so I could keep it. I'm very grateful for the people in that department.”
A panel of six physicians offered updates on cancer care at UPMC McKeesport. Before that, attendees had a chance to talk to those involved with support services.
Dr. Kevin Kane, division chief of Medical Oncology at UPMC CancerCenter at UPMC McKeesport, said smoking cessation is key when it comes to prevention of cancer.
“We have to work with the schools to try to get kids not to start smoking, because once they start it's very, very difficult to stop,” he said.
“Smoking kills,” Dr. Ghulam Abbas, chief of thoracic surgery at the hospital, said. “There are absolutely no benefits from smoking.”
Abbas said 22 percent of the 8 million cancer deaths each year are caused by smoking.
“If you quit smoking, in 10 years you have the same risk as the rest of the population for getting cancer,” he said.
Lung cancer is prevalent here, Kane said, because of the toxins from the mills. A low-dose CT scan can detect the disease in its early stage.
“If cancer can be detected on CT scans it can be detected early,” Kane said. “This screening is meant for heavy smokers over 50. By the time cancer is detected on a chest x-ray it's too late because the cancer is large at that point.”
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of death for men and women, although esophagus cancer is quickly gaining ground in the United States and around the world.
“Esophageal cancer is a bad disease to have,” Abbas said. “Most patients are in the advanced stage when they are diagnosed.”
Radiologist Dr. Marvin Abdalah talked about the importance of mammography in detecting breast cancer. Medical oncologist Dr. Jason Bierenbaum dispelled 10 myths about cancer. General surgeon Dr. Steven Gribar discussed the “cutting edge” surgical care offered at the McKeesport hospital. Division chief of Radiation Oncology Dr. Susan Rakfat talked about advances in radiation therapy.
Carol Waterloo Frazier is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1916, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Irwin woman waives sex charges to court
- Daytime gunfire damages vehicle in McKeesport
- Elizabeth Township business forum draws a crowd
- Details emerge in North Versailles drive-by shooting
- Homeville Viaduct project should extend life of span
- Intrepid VFW post in West Mifflin earns all-state designation
- Several McKeesport party-goers arrested for hindering shooting investigation
- Golf outing wraps up successful Invitational
- Elizabeth Forward community offers support to family of drowning victim
- Narcotics officers thwart Elizabeth drug deal
- Restrictions begin on Route 51 south