One Year Later, a New Mother Talks About the Cancer that Threatened Her and Her Unborn Child | White Plains Hospital

One Year Later, a New Mother Talks About the Cancer that Threatened Her and Her Unborn Child

6/9/2014

Every cancer survivor has a story to tell, but Rebecca Schmidt's experience stands out. Seven months pregnant, Schmidt, 36, walked into the White Plains Hospital Emergency Department with a painful cough. An X-ray showed a mass in her chest pressing on blood vessels near her heart, and it was suspected that she had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

 

Rebecca Schmidt Says Without White Plains Hospital's Comprehensive Cancer Program and Obstetrical Team, She and Her Son Might Not Be Here Today

Schmidt Tells Her Remarkable Story at White Plains Hospital's 21st Annual Cancer Survivors Day Program June 8th

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (June 9, 2014) – Every cancer survivor has a story to tell, but Rebecca Schmidt's experience stands out. Seven months pregnant, Schmidt, 36, walked into the White Plains Hospital Emergency Department with a painful cough. An X-ray showed a mass in her chest pressing on blood vessels near her heart, and it was suspected that she had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. With her pregnancy and heart at risk, the course of cancer treatment wasn't obvious. However, one thing was clear. Her oncologist, Dr. Mark Fialk, and other specialists recommended she spend the last eight weeks of her pregnancy at White Plains Hospital, where she could get the cancer, cardiac, obstetrical, and neonatal care she needed. Happily, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy on July 1, 2013, and today is cancer-free.

"At first I was shocked," says Schmidt, who lives in Rye Brook with her husband and two young sons. "All the thoughts went through my head: 'I don't want to die; I have family.' Then I tried to think of it in a positive light. Doctors had found the tumor while something could still be done. From that moment on, I told myself, 'As long as good things happen, I will be positive.'"

A Celebration of Life

On Sunday, June 8th, Schmidt told her remarkable tale as the keynote speaker at White Plains Hospital's 21st Annual Cancer Survivor's Day event at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in White Plains. Approximately 300 people attended the luncheon, which was deemed a "Celebration of Life." "Cancer Survivors Day encourages survivors to connect with each other, celebrate milestones, and recognize their supporters," explains Dr. Mark Gordon, Chairman of White Plains Hospital Cancer Committee, and Surgical Director of the Cancer Program, who spoke at the event. "In turn, it's a way for us as healthcare providers to reflect upon our work and celebrate our achievements with our patients."

Deciding on Where to Go for Treatment

Guests learned why Schmidt chose to be treated at White Plains Hospital instead of going to New York City. "I wanted to be where I trusted and knew my doctors," explains Schmidt. She was assured that she would receive excellent treatment by a White Plains Hospital multidisciplinary team of specialists and nurses, which in her case included a thoracic surgeon, obstetrician, oncologist, radiation oncologist, perinatologist, and neonatologist.

Dr. Randy Stevens, Director of Radiation Oncology at White Plains Hospital, recalls: "The day of the first multidisciplinary cancer conference discussing Rebecca Schmidt's case, the whole room was full. Part of the OB/GYN Department had come to listen and provide their opinion on what the best treatment option would be for her and her baby. At White Plains Hospital, patients can expect excellent oncology care in a community setting, with no compromise when it comes to leading-edge treatments and outcomes, and Rebecca's case is a prime example of that."

Chemo, Delivery, and Radiation – In That Order

The cancer committee recommended chemotherapy alone during the pregnancy, and then chemotherapy plus radiation treatment after delivery. After two rounds of chemotherapy, the tumor had shrunk by 86 percent, relieving the pressure on the blood vessels near the heart. The obstetrical specialists decided they could safely induce labor at 35 weeks. Tyler Mark was born on July 1st and treatment resumed soon after. On December 31st, Schmidt was declared in remission.

"From the emergency room physicians, to the doctors and nurses who became like family to me—the people at White Plains Hospital went above and beyond to care for me and my son," Schmidt says. "If it weren't for them, we might not be here today."

Cancer Can't Wait

White Plains Hospital CEO Jon B. Schandler explains that Schmidt's experience highlights the best of what White Plains Hospital has to offer: world-class medicine that's close to home. "Cancer doesn't wait until you can get an appointment—or until you deliver a baby," he says. "We were able to quickly assemble the right team and start treatment right away."

Schandler adds that the organization has built a leading-edge cancer care program, and is one of only 79 hospitals to receive an Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer in 2013. "Over the past three years, we've attracted surgeons and oncologists from leading institutions that are enabling us to bring more complex care to the community level," he says. "With construction underway on our new cancer facility—nearly doubling the size of our cancer treatment program—and with our new alliance with the Montefiore Health System, we are poised to provide world-class medicine and exceptional care to Westchester residents."

About White Plains Hospital's 21st Annual Cancer Survivors Day

National Cancer Survivors Day is an annual worldwide "Celebration of Life" to honor those living with a history of cancer—and there are more than 14.5 million in the United States alone, according to a new American Cancer Society report. In addition to Schmidt's keynote speech at the June 8th event, the audience heard from Jon B. Schandler, Chief Executive Officer of White Plains Hospital; Dr. Una Hopkins, Director of the Cancer Program; J. Michael Divney, Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Dr. Gordon. The Hope Players, a performance group that supports breast cancer research, provided entertainment.

Dr. Gordon points out that people have a greater chance today to survive cancer than in times past because of early detection and advances in treatment, and that's his goal. "At White Plains Hospital, we're committed to growing the number of cancer survivors, and that's what drives us to deliver exceptional care, everyday," he says.

About White Plains Hospital

White Plains Hospital (WPH) is a 292-bed voluntary, not-for-profit health care organization with the primary mission of offering high quality, acute health care and preventive medical care to all people who live in, work in or visit Westchester County and its surrounding areas. Centers of Excellence include the Dickstein Cancer Treatment Center, The William & Sylvia Silberstein Neonatal & Maternity Center and The Ruth and Jerome A. Siegel Stroke Center. The Hospital's Flanzer Emergency Department is the busiest in Westchester County, seeing over 55,000 visits a year. White Plains Hospital is the only community hospital in Westchester County licensed to perform emergency and elective angioplasty. The Hospital is fully accredited by the Joint Commission and earned its recognition as a Top Performer for Key Quality Measures® in 2013. The Hospital is also an eleven-time winner of the Consumer Choice Award, an honor given to the nation's top hospitals by the National Research Corporation, and received Magnet® designation in 2012 from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). For additional information, visit http://www.wphospital.org.

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