East Jefferson General Hospital

Teri D'Gerolamo

"I took control over breast cancer, and I am glad I did."

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Teri has lost both her mother and her sister to breast cancer. She has taken control and wants others to do the same. She urges women to know their risks, be proactive and seek the very best and innovative care. At EJGH, credentialed members of the MD Anderson Cancer Network consult with MD Anderson Physicians in Houston to determine the best possible course of treatment for their patients. That affiliation is important...

As a nurse for more than twenty years, Teri D'Gerolamo has learned how to help patients and their families prepare for the worst that disease can offer. She has seen how optimism and fortitude can help patients win their fight, and she has sat at their sides providing comfort when the disease has taken the upper hand. But nothing could prepare her for the loss of both her mother and her sister to breast cancer. Teri and her family carry the gene identified as BRCA1.

BRCA1 and BRCA 2 are genes that have been linked to the hereditary carrying of breast and ovarian cancer. A simple genetic test can confirm whether your family carries BRCA 1 or 2. Some may not want to know if they have a gene that puts them at risk for certain cancers. Teri makes a strong argument against that stand, "Knowing helps you make so many decisions regarding prevention, screenings and awareness." In Teri's case, awareness led to the decision to have preventive prophylactic surgery. That is a decision she has not regretted once. "I am no longer in fear of breast cancer, I have removed that fear from my life. I promised my sister that I would do all I could to help others become aware of breast cancer, BRCA and the fact that each of us must take control of our own health." Today, Teri belongs to a small but growing number of people the American Cancer Society has named "pre-vivors". She realizes not everyone will undergo genetic testing and certainly understands that many who have the gene will not take the steps she has taken. But she does want everyone to know that they can take control of their cancer journey and not let the disease control them.

Billy Daunoy

"Today, I consider myself a survivor."

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Billy's cancer fighting physicians are members of the MD Anderson Cancer Network. That gives them access to direct consultation with physicians at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston along with the latest treatment pathways developed there as well. In our region, only credentialed EJGH physicians have that access. Those doctors working together is important because...

When he was diagnosed with esophagel cancer, Billy Daunoy had only been on his new job at Jesuit High School a few months. He was stunned when the school responded by telling him that they would stand behind him throughout his ordeal. They immediately brought in another worker to work alongside Billy explaining that when anything became too much to handle, now he had an extra set of hands. A long-time heating and air-conditioning repair man, Billy has always been strong and active. To undergo cancer treatment meant entering a world of new terminologies, physicians and even worse, fatigue. But as each stage of treatment passed, he could see that victory was possible.

Billy had known that others when they were diagnosed in the past had traveled to Houston for treatment. That was not something that appealed to him. The time away from his support team, the expense and just being in a strange setting would have all made treatment more difficult for Billy. "I didn't know I could get top care right here, but I did." He went on to add, "I got all my treatments and support right here at East Jefferson, and I am glad I did."

Now, Billy considers himself to be a survivor. He credits much of his recovery to the support he enjoyed from his family, friends and of course his employer. "Everyone here has been so good to me. I didn't know how to react when I first got diagnosed but everything worked out just fine." In fact, the only problem he faces now is that his son played football at Rummel. "I gotta bet against him now when the two play."

Cheryl Mathis

"With EJGH and MD Anderson, I had a plan, and I won."

Cheryl's battle with leukemia involved treatments both in Houston and in Metairie. But from the start, she was confident. "My doctors had a specific plan, and once we had that plan, even when things weren't going well, I was confident we would win." As an affiliate of MD Anderson Cancer Network, credentialed EJGH physicians can consult with leading cancer fighters in Houston. They also gain access to MD Anderson treatment pathways. Working together, we are creating new survivors like Cheryl. That teamwork is important...

Always athletic and active, Cheryl Mathis had always been a picture of health. Even though she had a family history of cancer, her own eating, exercising and lifestyle habits had led her to believe she would be one of the lucky ones who would not have to face that dire day when they learned they had cancer. A persistent sinus infection and fever blisters were the only warning signs that anything was wrong. Unable to shake these symptoms after a few days, Cheryl went to the doctor for what she was sure would be a routine visit to get rid of an ongoing infection. When her doctor called her and told her to come in and bring her husband Bob with her, she suspected this was no ordinary infection. "Sweety, you have leukemia." was what her doctor told her. Cheryl was stunned.

Within the week, Bob and Cheryl were in Houston at MD Anderson Cancer Center undergoing treatment. They lived there for three months. Cheryl endured one solid year of chemotherapy and other treatments. On at least one occasion, Bob was fearful that she was going to lose her fight. But throughout, Cheryl maintained a strong fighting spirit. To make matters worse, during one trip to Houston, Bob's best friend was only a couple of floors above Cheryl. He was losing his cancer fight and had undergone the very treatment the doctors were now recommending for Cheryl. Much soul searching went into their decision to continue treatment.

Once treatment resumed, there were still many days that tested the Mathis' faith in their treatment plan but they held steadfast in their commitment to the process, their physicians and their own strength. Cheryl says she took strength in having a plan, "My doctors at EJ and MD Anderson gave me a plan and as long as I had a plan, I knew I could win, and I did."

Today, Cheryl is a survivor. She has taken the worst that cancer can offer and emerged on the other side with her full quality of life intact. Her husband was so moved by the quality of care he saw Cheryl receive that Bob agreed in late 2010 to join the Capital Cabinet for East Jefferson General Hospital's new campaign to raise funds to help EJGH expand and modernize our infusion center. In this volunteer role, Bob has agreed to spread the word about the high qualities of compassion and care that he saw on display throughout his wife's cancer battle. For anyone lucky enough to have met them, Bob and Cheryl Mathis are a constant and wonderful example that love and strength can be powerful weapons when taking on the worst ordeals of our lives. They also embody the words around which our cancer campaign is built...no one fights cancer alone.

Ed Bellevue

"When you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, your first thought is survival."

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Ed's doctors at EJGH are all members of the MD Anderson Cancer Network. Through a wide variety of effective treatments, they are setting new standards in prostate outcomes for our region. Through affiliation with MD Anderson Cancer Network, Ed's credentialed EJGH cancer fighting doctors are giving new hope to prostate cancer patients in our region.

Dr. Frank Rabito

When I refer a patient to another specialist, I take that handoff very seriously. When I refer one of my patients to a credentialed member of the MD Anderson Cancer Network at East Jefferson General Hospital, I know that patient is in great hands. That affiliation gives me and my patients tremendous peace of mind.

Dr. Sean Collins

When I first arrived at East Jefferson General Hospital, there were still blue tarp roofs throughout the community from Hurricane Katrina. Believe me, more than one friend asked if I was crazy leaving Columbia University Hospital in New York City for a suburban hospital that was dealing with hurricane recovery.

But I knew the commitment EJGH had made to being the best center in the region for the treatment of prostate cancer. This report along with our detailed reports from MD Anderson show that we are generating results that indicate that we have met, and surpassed, our original goals of excellence.

Dr. Kathleen Sullivan, OB/GYN

"My relationship with my patients means everything to me."

When one of my patients has questions or is diagnosed with cancer, I like knowing there are credentialed MD Anderson Cancer Network Doctors right here at EJ. That means they can usually stay here close to home throughout treatment and that can give them incredible peace of mind.

Dr. Stephen Champlin, OB/GYN

As an OB/GYN, I have a life-long relationship with my patients. I need to know when I refer them to another specialist that they are in good hands. Knowing that we have nearly 50 doctors at EJ who are credentialed members of the MD Anderson Cancer Network gives me tremendous confidence in knowing my patients will receive the best care possible. I have referred to these doctors in the past and I have seen them create new survivors. That gives new hope to everyone who comes after them. And nothing is more vital to a cancer fighter than hope.

Dr. Paul Monsour, Radiation Oncologist

As a physician who deals with cancer daily, I see the extraordinary amounts of fear and anxiety my patients encounter once they hear their diagnosis. Giving them access to our cancer report is one way of reassuring them regarding the quality of the hospital they have chosen for their care.

A report like this is important in giving our patients peace of mind and giving all of us a standard that we must strive to improve upon every day. As our success in fighting cancers has grown over the past few years, so has our reputation. Today, I would match the technologies, physicians and resources available at EJGH against any in the region. One example of our commitment is the combination of Novalis TX and Trilogy Stereotactic Cancer Fighting Systems. At this time, EJGH is one of only six hospitals in the nation with both of these systems. Not only does that illustrate our commitment to fighting cancer, it gives us the best weapons available against cancers of the brain and spine.

Desmond Sturges, Patient Tansporter

My job is to help get patients from one area of treatment to another. I get to engage them and know them when they are often very sick and very scared. It's amazing how many of them take the time to tell me how great their care is and how kind everyone is. I know our affiliation with MD Anderson Cancer Network is built around select doctors but I love knowing I am on the team that supports those doctors every day in creating new cancer survivors.

Renell Sherman, Environmental Services

"Your comfort is my highest priority."

"My job is to make sure your hospital stay is as clean and comfortable as possible. People may think of healthcare as being about doctors and nurses but there are hundreds of us who dedicate ourselves every day to helping you get better as soon as possible."

At East Jefferson General Hospital, select physicians are members of the MD Anderson Cancer Network. Those doctors rely on team members, like Renell, to make sure your comfort matches the level of care you receive.

Cheryl Fourcade, Community Programs Coordinator, American Cancer Society

As the liaison between East Jefferson General Hospital and the MD Anderson Cancer Network, my job is to help EJGH maximize our affiliate relationship so it can benefit the cancer patients of this region. Maximizing those efforts begins with the EJGH commitment to excellence. MD Anderson has been ranked as the nation's leading cancer fighting center. We do not add on affiliates without a great deal of scrutiny. We demand excellence every day but more importantly, we demand that our affiliates strive for constant improvement.

The MD Anderson mission statement is simple. We want to eradicate cancer in Texas, the United States and the world. Affiliation with hospitals such as EJGH is one way we can help our excellence extend beyond Texas and into this region. EJGH physicians who are credentialed members of the MD Anderson Cancer Network gain access to MDAPN treatment protocols. They also regularly confer with MDAPN doctors via video conferencing. The goal of affiliation is to give EJGH physicians the tools needed to assist in creating more survivors every day.

This report confirms that EJGH is a truly exceptional regional cancer center. We are proud to name EJGH as an affiliate and expect continued growth and excellence as our relationship continues.