2018-19 Cancer Network Annual Report

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Margaret Hunt
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Margaret Hunt

Primary Care: The first line of defense against cancer

The difference keen observation and quick care coordination makes

When Margaret Hunt went in for her regular checkup with her nurse practitioner, Amanda Igata, she was feeling slightly sluggish.

“I was tired,” said Margaret, “but at my age, I didn’t pay much attention to it.” Her bloodwork came back with low hemoglobin, which led Amanda to recommend additional testing.

Amanda Igata, Nurse Practitioner

“I don’t know if an urgent care center, which some people use in place of a primary care provider (PCP), would have detected her low levels of hemoglobin,” said Amanda. “It’s not unusual for a woman her age to have this level. But I knew it was a different level for her. As a PCP, we can look at previous lab work and compare them to see if there’s been a significant change.”

Within a week, Margaret was set up for an endoscopy and a colonoscopy with Dr. Suresh Jayatilaka. When he called her to come into the office for results on a Friday afternoon, Margaret was worried. She brought along her husband and two of her adult children. Dr. Jayatilaka, gave her the news: It was Stage II colon cancer.

Suresh Jayatilaka, M.D., Gastroenterology, Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital

“It wasn’t a good feeling, but Dr. J explained everything,” she said. Soon, she had a section of her colon, a number of her lymph nodes and her enlarged gallbladder removed.

“On my seventh day in the hospital, Dr. J woke me up, excited to tell me that ‘They got it all!’” Margaret’s post-surgery lab and imaging results showed no sign of cancer.

“My first thought was to praise God, then I praised the hospital and then I praised Dr. J,” she said.

Amanda was able to follow along with Margaret’s surgery and recovery through shared computerized medical records. She saw Margaret recently and confirms she’s doing well.

Margaret did not need any additional treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy, but with her healthcare team, she continues to keep an eye on her health. She also urges people to get their colonoscopies, especially after the age of 50, when it’s recommended for everyone.