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Surviving in Style

While it’s true cancer can impact otherwise healthy people, the disease can accompany other diagnoses like high blood pressure, diabetes, developmental disorders and other conditions. That’s why the Cancer Center’s oncologists and team members treat every patient uniquely based on their individual needs, ensuring the best possible outcome. Jonathan Griener faced his own set of challenges when he was diagnosed with mediastinal B-cell lymphoma, but confronted his disease with courage and determination, beating it on his own terms.

Like all patients, Jonathan had been looking forward to completing treatment since he was diagnosed with his disease. He knew that on his last day of radiation therapy, he would ring a special bell signifying this phase of his journey was over and a new one was just beginning. But when the survivor showed up for his last treatment, he did so in style, donning a chic tuxedo. And he enthusiastically rang the bell with all his heart.

It was a joyous time for him, his family and his treatment team. This survivor extraordinaire now anticipates moving out on his own and completing special career training.

Special Care for Special People
Jonathan had been diagnosed with ADHD and Asperger’s Syndrome at ages 3 and 10, respectively. This meant the Cancer Center team had to adjust their communication style and explain things to him a bit differently, taking extra steps to ensure he was comfortable at all times as he underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Jonathan and his sister.

Every patient who walks through the Cancer Center’s doors experience is different based on their disease and many other factors. In Jonathan’s case, his mom Ruth said that throughout his journey, his caregivers provided loving care and attention.

“In the radiation area, they had Jonathan lay down on the table where the treatment would be administered and told him how he’d need to be positioned; they had practice sessions,” said Ruth. “They explained the sounds he’d hear, how the machine would move and that even though the radiation therapist and doctor couldn’t be in the room with him when the treatment began, they could see and hear him the whole time, and he could speak to them as well. All of the teams, including the surgical and chemotherapy areas, were wonderful to him.”

Extra TLC for Everyone
Radiation oncologist Dr. Kate Castle said Jonathan is fun, loving and pleasant and she felt privileged to care for him. She said he surprised everyone when he showed up on his last treatment day dressed to the nines. Dr. Castle explained how the medical physics team and many other staff members played a role in making sure Jonathan felt confident with everything happening around him.

“Besides the treatment teams, services such as survivorship, patient navigation, nutritional services and more all play a role in adding that extra layer of support for patients like Jonathan and many others,” said Dr. Castle.

Dr. Castle also explained the importance of constant communication, “Jonathan’s mother couldn’t always accompany him to appointments so providing written reports to his mom when she couldn’t attend treatments was key in making sure she was kept up to date. It’s awesome to be a part of a team effort when it comes to caring for our patients.”

Learn more about how we conquer cancer differently by visiting marybirdlake.org.