Teaming together for Beverlys treatment

Living in Baltimore, Maryland, Beverly Ott was eager to explore the scenic views and slow pace of life offered on the other side of the Chesapeake Bay. She and her husband Charles moved to Delaware about three years ago. Little did she know that her move to the first state would bring about a long-overdue cancer diagnosis.

Ott always knew about a lump on her neck and was adamant about getting it checked. Over the years she saw countless doctors while still living in Baltimore, but each appointment ended with Ott being told it was nothing to worry about. “I had a lump on my neck for years, and it kept getting bigger. I never felt right but I was always assured by my doctors it was nothing to worry about,” said Ott. “Once we moved to Delaware I started seeing Dr. Gupta, and at my first visit she said something wasn’t right about my neck.”

Bayhealth Primary Care Physician Preeti Gupta, MD, immediately noticed Ott’s thyroid was enlarged and asymmetrical.

Dr. Gupta sent Ott in for testing, including an ultrasound followed by a biopsy, which revealed it was in fact thyroid cancer. “I’m so glad Beverly came to see me when she did,” said Dr. Gupta. “If this had gone undetected for any longer, it could have spread. Beverly was such a compliant and diligent patient. From the beginning we knew she was taking this seriously and was listening to everything her care team was telling her.”

It’s not surprising that Ott took on her diagnosis ready to fight. She was ready to do whatever it took to get better in order to be with her husband, children, and grandchildren. It’s been a journey — filled with different doctors and different procedures. Ott used Bayhealth for her entire diagnosis and course of treatment — and credits the team effort with getting her cancer-free so quickly.

“After we knew it was cancer, I learned I would need surgery, and began seeing Dr. Wright,” said Ott. “I knew I was in good hands with her.” Bayhealth Otolaryngologist Catherine Wright, MD, performed the surgery to remove Ott’s tumor. Dr. Wright noted that many patients become fearful and almost shut down when they learn surgery is part of their treatment plan, but not Ott.

“Beverly was never intimidated or scared when we began discussing her surgery,” said Dr. Wright. “Beverly was ready to do whatever necessary to have the best outcome for her health, even if that meant surgery. Having the right attitude is so important.”

Dr. Wright also noted that since Ott stayed within the Bayhealth Medical Group, she truly had a team approach to all of her care. “Beverly’s care was streamlined because all of her physicians were on the same page,” said Dr. Wright. “Thanks to our new electronic health record Epic, we never had to do any repeat testing, and there was no redundancy in the treatment plan from doctor to doctor. This helped tremendously to ensure we were treating Beverly as quickly and effectively as possible.”

Following her surgery, Ott went to Bayhealth Radiation Oncologist John Lahaniatis, MD, for radiation treatment. Dr. John, as patients fondly call him, treated Ott with radioactive iodine therapy. The treatment is used to destroy any thyroid tissue not removed with surgery. Ott says while she was nervous about the treatment and the isolation that comes after, Dr. John immediately put her at ease. “Not all doctors are made the same,” says Ott. “The one thing I loved about my doctors was the way they treated me. From start to finish, every doctor I saw put me first and made sure I was comfortable with everything.”

Following the radiation treatment, Ott immediately began hormone therapy with Bayhealth Endocrinologist Nira Madisi, MD. After someone has their thyroid removed, the body can no longer make the thyroid hormone it needs, so patients must take thyroid hormone pills to replace the natural hormone.

“Beverly had challenges, like all patients do,” said Dr. Madisi. “Instead of focusing on the negative, Beverly also highlights the positive and doesn’t let anything prevent her from living her life. She is doing very well and has had stable progress — all thanks to her determination.”

Ott continues to see all of her doctors on a follow-up basis, and says she credits the whole team with coming together to care for her. “I feel safe now. My doctors are a team. If I have an issue, my doctors are always right there for me,” said Ott. “If not for Dr. Gupta, my cancer could have spread. I’m so thankful for her; she was the first step of many in my treatment.”

“Beverly is such a good example of the importance of being your own advocate. She always suspected something was wrong, but was always told in the past it was nothing to worry about,” said Dr. Gupta. “In coming to my office and voicing her concerns, she put her health first and made sure she received care. I hope others feel as empowered and will do the same with any concerns they have.”

Ott lives in Felton with her husband. Her two children and five grandchildren still live across the bridge, but she jokes she sees them more now than she did when they lived near each other. While she’s not a Delawarean by birth, Ott sings the praises of the first state. “By moving to Delaware, I finally got the diagnosis I suspected all along and the healing process could really begin. I’ll never forget the day I was told I had cancer, much like I won’t forget the day I was told I was cancer-free. I don’t take life for granted anymore.”

“At times I joke with Beverly that she’s just about seen our entire team at Bayhealth,” said Dr. Gutpa. “It’s been a journey for her. While it may have felt long and challenging, she has always listened to her doctors and she is on the right path now.”

Ott says she’s never been happier, and feels like a new person. “I know in my heart if I hadn’t moved to Delaware I wouldn’t be alive. I was walking around under a doctor’s care with cancer and I didn’t even know it. I have a whole new lease on life now. I know I’m here for a reason,” said Ott. “It feels wonderful to be cancer-free and to know I took it on with a fight. I’m a strong woman — my kids always tell me that’s what they love most about me.”

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