Robert Ward's Story
The support that we got from the hospital was so good. I personally really did not miss a beat. My life went on.
Robert “Bob” Ward went to his urologist, Dr. Lawrence Sigler, to treat kidney stones. But when Dr. Sigler requested an MRI to confirm the diagnosis, he found something much more concerning.
“He said to me, ‘There’s something here that I don’t like. Do you have an oncologist?’” Bob recalls. Bob did know an oncologist. His wife had just received treatment for breast cancer.
Sandra “Sandy” Hayes, Bob’s wife of 43 years, received a diagnosis of stage II triple negative breast cancer in 2012. Just three months before, Sandy’s sister had died from squamous cell cancer, which made her diagnosis scarier. Knowing she would be facing a potentially long and trying treatment regimen, Sandy decided she would seek treatment in their Bronxville community.
“The most fierce argument we’ve ever had in our entire marriage was about where she should go for treatment. I always thought of [NewYork-Presbyterian Westchester] as a hospital you would go to if you had something minor happen to you. But if it were something major, you would immediately go to one of the bigger New York City hospitals,” Bob says. “She absolutely insisted that she didn’t want any part of that.”
Sandy found a doctor — medical oncologist Dr. Anthony Provenzano — and hospital — NewYork-Presbyterian Westchester (formerly Lawrence Hospital) — just five minutes from their house. Utilizing advancements in genetic testing, Dr. Provenzano was able to devise a treatment plan that killed cancer cells without causing life-threatening complications.
“The treatment that Sandy received was the same protocol as any of the major New York City hospitals, and it was local. The staff — all of the doctors, the nurses, the technicians — were all just top notch,” Bob says. “So when I was diagnosed with my cancer, it was a no-brainer. I wasn't going to go any other place but [New York-Presbyterian Westchester].”
Dr. Provenzano sent Bob to the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center for a second opinion. The cancer center is one of three National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in New York State, a distinction awarded to only 49 centers in the country that demonstrate expertise in laboratory, clinical and behavioral and population-based cancer research. At HICCC, Bob received a diagnosis of stage IV non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with the disease having spread throughout his body. It was determined Bob would need special treatment considerations because he also had a history of heart problems.
As Bob received chemotherapy at NewYork-Presbyterian Westchester, he was monitored by Dr. Anthony Mercando, a cardiologist with ColumbiaDoctors, the faculty practice of Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Thanks to the personalized treatment plan Dr. Provenzano and Dr. Sigler crafted, Bob was also able to fight off the cancer without having life-threatening complications.
“I never went through any of the physical pain; I didn't lose my hair. I still worked out during my cancer treatment. I never even missed a day of work. The days that I was getting my treatment, the staff at the hospital were so understanding that they adjusted their schedule to fit my schedule so that I could get to [work] on time,” Bob says. “We have had such a wonderful relationship with [New York-Presbyterian Westchester] that we highly recommend it to all of our friends.”
Now, four years since he completed his cancer treatment, Bob has returned to his normal life — working out three to four times a week and working part-time as a ranger at a local golf course.
“When I got my cancer, I had already been through it with [Sandy]. So with my cancer [it] was, ‘OK. Well then let's get going. Let's take care of it.’ And I was in good hands,” he says. “The support that we got from the hospital was so good. I personally really did not miss a beat. My life went on.”