Nancy McGarvey

Thyroid Cancer Patient Stories, Breast Cancer Patient Stories

Nancy McGarvey

During the night when most people are fast asleep, Nancy McGarvey is on her feet, caring for newborn babies at one of the area's busiest hospital delivery rooms. "I have loved being a nurse for the past 20 years," said Nancy. During her 39 years of raising 4 children, many of the healthcare decisions revolved around them.

When the time came for Nancy to make critical healthcare decisions for herself, she weighed her options carefully.

Nancy chose Fox Chase Cancer Center, where she was treated for thyroid cancer in 1978 and bilateral breast cancer in 1994.

"It's critical that the healthcare provider you choose at the beginning is the best in the field - and for us, it was Fox Chase."

"The most critical decision you make is your first decision; where should I go for diagnosis and treatment? You need to anticipate the unexpected when dealing with cancer. Diagnostic studies and treatment protocols may differ from hospital to hospital," explained Nancy. "I tell people to expect the worst by way of complications and go to the hospital that can handle it the best."

Nancy developed thyroid cancer - a proven result of the radiation she had as a child.

When Nancy McGarvey was only 4 years old living in the mid-west, she was exposed to radiation treatment following a tonsillectomy. Twenty-three years later, Nancy developed thyroid cancer - a proven result of the radiation she had as a child. At 27, with a toddler and an infant at home, Nancy went to a community hospital and a general surgeon for treatment. There she had a partial thyroidectomy, which was initially successful. Without follow up studies and medication for the next three years, Nancy had a recurrence of the thyroid cancer.

By this time there were 4 children at home and the news that the thyroid cancer had returned was devastating.

This time it was more complicated and had spread to her lymph nodes. Nancy's pediatrician suggested she go to Fox Chase Cancer Center.

"My husband, Brian, and I immediately felt a connection at Fox Chase."

Fortunately, the surgery and follow up treatment over the next 2 years was a success and Nancy returned to motherhood without additional worries.

20 years later - a second diagnosis of cancer

Nancy would face cancer again 20 years after her initial diagnosis of thyroid cancer in 1975. She found a lump on her left breast. Her physician sent Nancy for her first mammogram at age 47, which showed several suspicious areas.

A biopsy later confirmed that Nancy had bilateral breast cancer with two different types of breast cancer. 1n 1994, Nancy underwent bilateral lymph node dissection and lumpectomy at Fox Chase. After she recovered from surgery, Nancy began a course of radiation therapy.

"I think the best part of Fox Chase was the doctors' ability to accommodate us."

"The doctors and nurses went out of their way to help us," said Nancy. "The staff keeps you will informed of what to expect along the way. They are upbeat and happy in spite of the patient's situation or diagnosis."

"Dr. Bergman is wonderful."

Dr. Cynthia Bergman, a surgical oncologist at Fox Chase, provides follow-up care for Nancy. She explained, "Dr. Bergman is wonderful."

"As a nurse, I am very aware of the nursing care at other hospitals. The Fox Chase nurses are fabulous."

"The nurses are caring and certainly dedicated to the people they help every day. That is why I brought my husband to Fox Chase when he was diagnosed with lung cancer." read Brian's story

"If anyone asks me where to go for cancer treatment, I always recommend Fox Chase. When you want the best, you have to go to the best."