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Finding Support Through a Difficult Diagnosis

Apr 12, 2021

Finding Support Through a Difficult Diagnosis

Thasha Kuntz needed support when she received her cancer diagnosis.

She had her husband Nick. But because of the ongoing pandemic, he couldn’t always attend appointments with her. Her doctors and nurses had to play an integral part in her support and treatment.

Dr. Joseph Lavelle, DO, oncologist, and his support became especially important to Thasha. His encouragement helped Thasha complete treatment, even when it got difficult.

The start of the journey

Thasha was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection (UTI) and prescribed two rounds of antibiotics. Neither worked. Then she noticed her neck was swollen on the right side, from chin to shoulder blade. Nick thought it was a response to the infection.

Thasha’s doctor sent her to an ear, nose, and throat specialist. She was informed it was either a cyst or cancer. She was devastated.

After additional follow-up, Thasha started seeing Dr. Lavelle for treatment. He broke the news that she had Double-Hit Lymphoma, which is an aggressive type of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

She finally had an answer for what was wrong. She was ready to start her treatment.

A bump in the road

Her treatment spanned months, often complicated by COVID-19 restrictions. The individual treatments were going well, but around the third treatment, Thasha started to fear the worst.

“I did not realize how bad I really had it until my third treatment,” she says. “The more I researched, the more I realized I was in a lot of trouble.”

She was experiencing extreme pain, skeptical if she was beating the cancer. She felt terrible and worried that wasn’t normal. She made the difficult decision to stop treatments. She feared she wouldn’t survive.

“I wanted to give up because I had a lot of pain. I knew I shouldn’t feel the way I did after my fourth treatment,” Thasha says. “I was just sick. I was like, if this is what it is going to be, and I have to go through this again, I am just done.”

This terrified Nick, who wanted her to continue treatment. But Thasha was set in her decision to stop treatments—until Dr. Lavelle got involved.   

“When she wanted to give up, I was at a loss. I really wanted to force her to go on, but Dr. Lavelle was the one who convinced her to finish treatment,” Nick says.

Dr. Lavelle decided to run tests to see what was causing Thasha’s increased symptoms. He learned she had acute diverticulitis. She ended up hospitalized for four days. Her health started to improve after antibiotics, and she was released.

 Thasha decided to continue her treatments.

A happy ending

Following her treatments, Thasha went into remission. She and Nick were thrilled. But they couldn't help but be a little nervous and skeptical.

“I know I’m in remission. I’ve been told I’m in remission, but I need that PET scan to be sure. I want to see it for myself,” Thasha says.

Finding support in a difficult time

Nick and Thasha went through a difficult journey with her lymphoma diagnosis. But they reached the other side with the support and care of the healthcare teams devoted to her care.   

“There are some nurses in there that mean the world to me,” Thasha says. “Mentally and emotionally, they are the ones who got me through it for the five days I was confined to the hospital.”

 “I felt very confident in the standard of care she was receiving,” Nick says. “I was very thankful for them doing what I thought was above and beyond. The whole cancer team was just amazing.”

Thasha is visiting Dr. Lavelle every three months for checkups. She will continue to see Dr. Lavelle for years to come, knowing she will receive the same care that helped her fight for her life.  

“It is just amazing to me that within seven months I can go from not being sure I’m going to make it to planning trips,” Thasha says. “It’s amazing to me what the cancer team can do.”

Cancer care you can count on

The cancer team at Kettering Health Network is here to support you when you need it most. To learn more about our services, visit Cancer Care.