March 13, 2020
Music is Joyce Drake’s passion. Whether playing the baby grand piano in her Lititz, Pennsylvania apartment, singing in her church choir, or attending local concerts, Joyce surrounds herself with musical experiences.
Several years before her breast cancer diagnosis, she remembers striking up a friendly conversation with the lady sitting beside her at the symphony. Little did Joyce imagine she would one day receive care at the place of healing that bore the lady’s name: the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute.
A Year of Challenges
Joyce faced more than her fair share of challenges as 2019 got underway. Her only sibling had just passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was in the process of selling her house and downsizing to a new home. And in the midst of it all, she began treatment for stage 1 breast cancer.
Joyce, now in her 80s, was always diligent about getting an annual mammogram. No abnormalities were ever noted and she had no reason to think her latest mammogram would be any different. It soon became clear that wouldn’t be the case.
“I was kept longer than usual,” said Joyce, “and then was asked to stay while they did an ultrasound.”
A small tumor (less than 1 centimeter) was discovered and believed to be cancer.
“I was surprised and scared,” recalled Joyce who had gone to the appointment by herself. “They brought in staff to be there to offer support as everything was explained.”
Meeting Her Team of Cancer Specialists
Joyce was referred to medical oncologist Dr. Ami Jhaveri and breast surgeon Dr. Marnie Kaplan. Both physicians carefully explained her diagnosis and all of her treatment options, something Joyce remembers with gratitude.
Dr. Kaplan performed a lumpectomy, a procedure in which Joyce’s tumor, a small amount of surrounding tissue, and four lymph nodes under her arm were removed. As is often the case, Joyce’s surgery was followed by radiation therapy to help assure the cancer was eliminated.
“I went for radiation 20 days in a row; 10 minutes each session,” explained Joyce, who said how grateful she was not only to her caregiving team at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute, but also to the friends and family who accompanied her to her every appointment and supported her throughout her journey. “They were the greatest gift,” she added.
Because of her brother’s cancer history, Joyce, the mother of two grown children, also decided to have genetic testing. The tests were negative for any genetic mutations, which offered reassurance to her children.
The Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute
Joyce is quick to sing the praises of her experience at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute. She so appreciated the knowledgeable and comforting staff, and the calming atmosphere created by special features like the reflective pool, plant wall, the art, and healing garden.
“Everything made me feel hugged,” smiled Joyce, “and it was wonderful to not have to drive far for my care.”
“Cancer is such a hard thing, but I never felt scared or depressed,” said Joyce, looking back on her diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
Looking to the Future without Fear
“I still have a lot of living to do,” said the very active Joyce who has rarely slowed down since her first job out of college, working for NBC’s Tonight Show.
Although she thinks she will always be a bit apprehensive before her mammography screenings, she said she doesn’t worry about a recurrence of cancer.
“If I have to go back, I know there are people there for me,” said Joyce, as she reflected on a place of healing very close to her heart, and the lady whose philanthropic spirit has changed the face of cancer care for thousands in the Lancaster County region.