Being married to a long-time smoker, Lisa Gaines naturally harbored concerns for her husband’s health. So in May 2016, she scheduled James for a routine physical, and soon after, he was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer.
Lisa flew into action, locating a highly-recommended oncologist, Dr. Mark A. Marinella, who agreed to see Lisa and James immediately.
“We were very nervous going in for that first appointment, but Dr. Marinella and Dr. Payson, the radiation oncologist, put us right at ease,” says Lisa. “They carefully explained everything so that both of us could understand what was happening and what to expect.”
At one point, Dr. Payson asked them if they had seen James’ scans. “We just looked at her – was that actually possible? She brought out Jim’s MRI and PET scans and showed us the tumor and how his lymph nodes were involved. That was huge for us – to see what we were fighting,” remembers Lisa.
As a respiratory therapist, Lisa works every day in the ICU of a large hospital, alongside excellent yet overloaded nurses who spend a good deal of their time running from one room to the next. In comparison, “the nurses at Dayton Physicians actually stop. They take the time to truly be with you,” says Lisa. “We had the personal cell phone number of Beth, the oncology nurse, and I called her whenever I had a concern. It was such a relief to know we had people we could depend on no matter what. I feel like we never see that in any hospital situation.”
Another great advantage was that Dayton Physicians facilities are all connected by one central network, with each branch having access to all patient information. This meant that if James went for treatment at one facility, they could immediately access the results of a test done somewhere else, saving time and preventing him from being put through any needless procedures.
James lost at least 36 lbs. throughout his treatment, and one of Lisa’s greatest concerns was ensuring that he received the right nutrition.
“We met with the nutritional counselor at Dayton, and she answered any and all of our questions. I had to be sure that James received the calories and volume of fluids he needed. You’re not supposed to give vitamins, as they can boost cancer, so the help from the nutritionist was crucial for us,” she explains.
Humor also became a guiding light for the couple. “I’ll never forget when we went for chemo instruction at Dayton,” remembers Lisa. “The nurse conducting the class looked at the list of heavy-duty drugs they had prescribed for Jim’s infusion, and said, ‘Wow, looks like they’re really trying to cure you!’”
In looking back, Lisa found the support given at Dayton Physicians to be exactly what she needed. “It’s emotionally challenging to be a caregiver, and they told me that I could call any time, at any hour, if I needed anything at all – and they truly meant it. James and I feel so blessed that we were afforded the opportunity to be treated by a community-based center.”