A personal story by Lindsey Forsyth
I was over 1,300 miles from home at a seminar that I had dreamed of attending for years when I got “the call.”
I had just seen my OB-GYN for a routine check-up during which he suggested we do a routine ultrasound to look for endometriosis. I had the ultrasound the day before I left for the seminar. I remember looking at the ultrasound monitor and thinking “that doesn’t look right” but I tried to put the thought out of my head and went about my day.
When I got the call three days later, I knew I hadn’t been imagining things and that my intuition was right. My doctor let me know the good news that there was no evidence of endometriosis. Then he gave me the other news. “You have a mass in your bladder. You need to see a urologist.” In a moment of shock, I asked my doctor, “What are the chances that this is cancer?” My doctor provided me with a name that I quickly jotted down in the notes app on my phone.
When I hung up, my heart sank. “I’m 29 years old and I might have bladder cancer.” I thought of my five and a half year old daughter and my husband as my mind went to the worst case scenario. I was frozen in fear and I had no idea what to do next.
I reached out to Summus as a member to get help. In less than four hours, on a Friday night, I was on the phone with a Summus MD. During the initial intake call, she let me know that she would find several high quality doctors in my area who specialized in bladder masses and cancer. She gave me clear instructions on what information I needed to request from my doctor’s office and reassured me that once we knew what we were up against we would develop a plan.
On Monday, the Summus MD followed up to share the names of two physicians in my area who specialize in bladder masses and cancer. I selected the doctor that was able to get everything done in one appointment as opposed to having to come back for a second follow up appointment.
One week later, I was at my appointment with the urologist who confirmed that it was a tumor. Though rare, the doctor had seen similar cases in people my age where these tumors were low grade cancers. We made a plan to surgically remove the tumor and I would have chemotherapy directly inside my bladder and close follow up for the rest of my life. What was so remarkable about this was that I was so young, had no known risk factors and had no significant symptoms before this diagnosis.
The following week, I had surgery to remove the tumor and chemotherapy injected directly into my bladder. If the cancer was low grade, as anticipated, I was advised that it was possible this would be potentially curative. While I was at the hospital for surgery, the staff kept reiterating that the doctor we had selected is the best, including many stories of family members who had received treatment from him.
When the pathology results came back, it was good news. My bladder tumor was a rare, benign tumor that occurs in less than 1% of all bladder tumors and generally occurs in men over the age of 60. Thankfully, it was not cancer but follow up would still be needed to monitor my risk of developing bladder cancer in the future.
I wanted to make sure my husband and I had all of the information we needed about my diagnosis and that we were on the right treatment path so I reached out to Summus again. I was connected with an expert urologist from Duke. The Summus team helped me upload my pertinent medical information and prepared a list of customized questions to guide me through the discussion so that I could make the most out of this consultation. During our call, I was reassured by his knowledge of my condition, his confirmation that we had followed the right treatment path and his ideas of how I could monitor myself for symptoms between check-ups with my urologist. This call helped me feel empowered that I had the best information and resources to be an active part of my own care journey.
Seven months before my tumor diagnosis, when I started to work at Summus, I could see the value of what we provide to our members on a day-to-day basis. But when I personally needed Summus, I experienced something far beyond the value I could initially see. Summus showed up for me and my family during our time of need. I remember everyone I spoke to at Summus about my case reassured me that they would help me in any way that they could. All of a sudden, my husband and I weren’t trying to navigate a potential cancer diagnosis on our own. We knew that Summus would provide us with all of the guidance we needed on this very scary and unexpected health journey, and with hope and peace in knowing that I was receiving the best quality of care.. My only focus at that moment was getting better.
I now know firsthand the value of what Summus provides to our members on a day-to-day basis is priceless and is simply beyond words. I am so thankful for the way that my colleagues show up and support our members in the moments that matter most. I’m very proud to be part of our mission to restore human connection in healthcare.