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Lois Garner

​​​​​How Supportive Medicine ​​Became Cancer Patient’s ‘L​ife Saver’

When Lois Garner’s breast cancer metastasized to her bone marrow 12 years after completing treatment – and pain medication prescribed by her oncologist didn’t bring relief – she asked for a referral to Supportive Medicine. It made a world of difference.

“I was having a lot of pain, because having it in the bone marrow is like having it in the bone. My oncologist tried different pain medications, but they weren’t much help,” Lois said.

She and her husband Bill scheduled a consultation with Supportive Medicine physician specialist Dr. Shira Amdur.

From a hig​h level of pain to none

“On my first visit with Dr. Amdur, she spent about an hour with my husband and me. She doesn’t look at her watch. She’ll spend all the time you need. After talking with us and answering our questions – and we had a lot of them – she ordered new pain medication. Within a couple of weeks, I had zero pain, whereas before, my pain was anywhere from a 6 to an 8. It has been a 0 ever since,” Lois said.

In addition to helping Lois manage her pain, Dr. Amdur is also helping her manage her blood pressure and neuropathy in her feet.

“She’s been my life saver, and I tell her that every time I see her,” Lois said.

The value Supportive M​​edicine brings

In addition to Supportive Medicine, Lois continues to be treated by her oncologist, Dr. Guiying Hu, who also cared for her the first time she battled breast cancer.

“Supportive Medicine isn’t there to take over my care or take me away from my regular doctor. Under Dr. Hu’s c​​are plan, I’ve been treated with chemotherapy and radiation twice. I’m currently receiving infusion on a quarterly basis to strengthen my bones,” she said.

She urges others to seek the help of Supportive Medicine.

“I think every person diagnosed with a chronic illness, whether it’s cancer, liver or pulmonary disease, or something else – curable or not – should have a Supportive Medicine consult. You may not need it then, but just knowing what Supportive Medicine is and the ways it might help you or those caring for you is extremely valuable. If you start having more severe symptoms, that’s the time to see them again because that’s their area of expertise,” Lois said.

Lois sees Dr. Hu and Dr. Amdur quarterly and says at her last oncology appointment, her lab results looked better than in the entire past year.

Help​​ing patients cope with tough diagnoses

“My friends who’ve seen me in terrible pain, now say I’m like a different person,” she said, crediting Dr. Amdur with controlling her pain and improving her quality of life. “When I started seeing Dr. Amdur, I was in a wheelchair because I couldn’t walk. Now I’m walking again with the help of a cane. I’m also able to go to the gym again – my husband and I go four days a week. I’m not doing anything close to what I was before, but I’m happy I’m able to lift a few weights and walk a little on the treadmill,” Lois said.

She and her husband were even able to travel to Florida for Mother’s Day to enjoy four days with their daughter and three young grandkids.

“My prognosis in June 2016, when I learned the cancer had come back, was two to five years. I was in such pain I wondered if I’d ever see my grandchildren again. When you’re diagnosed like this, it’s like, wham it hits you. That’s why Supportive Medicine is so important.”

Lois knew she’d made the right decision to seek out Supportive Medicine when she and Bill first sat down with Dr. Amdur.

“I liked Dr. Amdur from the first time I met her. She came across as knowledgeable, and I felt she was really listening to me. I like that she’s honest and doesn’t beat around the bush. She also makes my husband and me laugh. I think that’s a really good quality. Not everyone with a diagnosis like mine wants to laugh or sees any reason for humor, but she’s good at reading people and connecting with the patient in the manner that will work best. She takes her cues from her patients.”

Lois hopes sharing her story helps other patients with serious illnesses by making them – and their doctors – aware of the benefits of Supportive Medicine.

“My family and I take every day as a blessing,” she said. “We’re thankful for the care from all my Kelsey-Seybold doctors, but especially for the added support by Dr. Amdur and the Supportive Medicine team.”​