2018-19 Cancer Network Annual Report

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Ralph Sampson, Sr.

With the help of his healthcare team, Ralph Sampson, Sr. stays strong

Sentara RMH Medical Center aids in prostate and lung cancer treatment and recovery

Ralph Sampson, Sr., 80, was admitted to the hospital on a twisting health journey in Harrisonburg. As part of a team that included his wife, son Ralph, Jr. (a retired professional basketball player) and two daughters, Ralph, Sr. was assisted in dealing with challenging health decisions.

Prostate issues brought him to the hospital, but that was only the beginning. His urologist referred Ralph to the Sentara RMH Hahn Cancer Center’s radiation oncology department after learning he had prostate cancer. First Ralph needed to undergo previously scheduled hernia surgery. Due to complications afterward, X-rays were taken, and doctors discovered a spot on Ralph’s lung.

Robin Atwood, Clinical Dietitian, Sentara RMH Hahn Cancer Center

With this new information, the Sampsons had more decisions to make. A biopsy revealed that the spot on his left lung was cancerous. The doctors recommended chemotherapy, followed by surgery. It took a team effort to get him through treatment and to improve his nutrition and exercise. Luckily, Ralph’s family was knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the process. Working with a nutritionist from the Sentara Cancer Network, they reminded Ralph to drink more water, gave him nutritious juice smoothies and got him moving.

“Good nutrition during treatment can help patients maintain strength and energy, promote a stronger immune system and help the body heal after treatment,”said Robin Atwood, clinical dietitian with Sentara RMH Hahn Cancer Center. “The goal is to consume healthy foods and drinks to supply the body with fuel for repair and healing.” Registered dietitian nutritionists can help patients make dietary changes based on the side effects of treatment that can help them feel more comfortable and as strong as possible.

Heather Morgan, M.D., Radiation Oncology

Dr. Heather Morgan, a radiation oncologist, was impressed by Ralph’s stamina.

“The fatigue that often results from radiation depends a lot on the patient’s level of fitness,” Dr. Morgan said. She cites studies that show patients who exercise experience much less fatigue than those who don’t. She applauds Ralph’s family for helping him regain his health.

Today, Ralph is doing well and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. He wants to retire soon, but he has no plans to sit in a rocking chair. Instead, he’ll do more volunteer work.