Why Kaiser Permanente? Members Say it Best

Prompt Attention Defeats Rare Cancer


Marcy NelsonIt was a fluke that I discovered the lump in my neck during the summer of 2011. One of my coworkers was telling me that she needed to be tested for thyroid cancer. She said that her neck was swollen, and she tipped her head back to show me more clearly. I imitated her motion as I listened to her — and felt a hard lump on the right side of my neck.

I didn't waste any time in calling my Kaiser Permanente clinic to get the lump checked out, and the doctor ordered some blood work and an ultrasound. My lab results were all normal, and I felt perfectly healthy, so it seemed a little silly going in for the ultrasound. I even told the technician at the Kaiser Permanente medical offices Capitol Hill Campus that I was probably wasting her time. But in the middle of the exam she got really quiet, and very focused on the screen. The change in her demeanor made me uneasy, but she couldn’t tell me anything until the results were read by the doctor.

The next day, John Schenk, a Washington Permanente Medical Group endocrinology specialist, called me and said the ultrasound showed that I might have cancer. After a biopsy, the diagnosis was confirmed: I had medullary thyroid cancer, a rare form of cancer that can only be treated by surgical removal.

In November 2011, John Rowland, a Washington Permanente Medical Group surgeon, performed a six-hour surgery at Virginia Mason Medical Center to remove the tumor, and most of the lymph nodes in my neck.

Despite the laundry list of possible complications that was described to me before the surgery, my recovery went pretty smoothly. Kaiser Permanente made sure I was fully screened and scanned to check that the cancer hadn’t spread to other parts of my body. Regular blood tests since then show no recurrence of the cancer. The surgical scar just looks like a fine line on my neck.

I can't say enough good things about the care I got at Kaiser Permanente. Everyone who treated me was skilled, professional, and compassionate. All my appointments were coordinated promptly and I never had to question how or where I’d be seen. And "talking" to my doctors via the e-mail system for patients at Kaiser Permanente medical offices eliminated unnecessary office visits and phone calls.

I originally joined Kaiser Permanente because it was the most affordable option. Now I can say from experience that Kaiser Permanente is the best place to be a patient, and I’m going to continue to choose Kaiser Permanente. They saved my life.

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