Four chemo infusions, spaced out over three months, caused a range of side effects, from hair loss to overwhelming fatigue. Yet Lathan continued to work throughout her treatment. “I went in with the attitude, ‘Let’s get this done,’” she said. “Working kept me from sitting at home worrying.”
After chemo, Lathan faced more treatment—six grueling weeks of daily radiation. The saving grace was the clinic’s location, a short five-mile drive from her home. She was able to schedule the first appointment of the day, then head to work. “I was in and out in 15 to 20 minutes,” she said.
Lathan’s relationship with her providers also made treatment more tolerable. “My experience at Duke has been phenomenal,” she said. “I always felt like a person, not a number. Dr. Spiritos even gave me his email address and," her radiologist Dr. Carol Hahn, MD, "visited me at work.”
“Patients want to know that their provider actually cares for them and is wholly invested in their health and well-being so that they have total comfort with the treatment being recommended,” said Spiritos. “All of my patients can get hold of me, even on a Sunday afternoon.”
Two years later, Lathan’s life has returned to normal, though she still sees her cancer care team every few months. However, she doesn’t mind this reminder of her experience as a patient. “I love to see Dr. Spiritos and the nurses,” she said. “Nobody wants to have cancer, but having a team around you that supports and cares about you—and easy access to treatment— makes it easier.”