On the 20th of every month, Nancy Engel celebrates life. At first, she counted the months that had passed since her lung cancer diagnosis. Now, she counts the years.
A Lung Cancer Diagnosis
January 20, 2016 is the day that changed Nancy’s life forever. It was the day she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer—cancer that had spread to her bones, lymph nodes, spleen and brain.
Nancy is an active, healthy woman who had never smoked. Involved in her church and community organizations, she loves to sing and especially loves spending time with her three children and five grandchildren.
As the then 58-year-old Christiana woman began to process the journey placed before her, she found it particularly challenging to deal with the trauma of being what she describes as “the healthiest sick person I know.”
A Community of Support
Family, friends, and co-workers rallied around her. An acquaintance who had also battled lung cancer led Nancy to the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute and to Dr. Randall Oyer who Nancy says was “the perfect doctor for me in my first few years of this journey.” To Dr. Samuel Kerr and the entire Green Team of caregivers. And to Amy Jo Pixley her “nurse navigator, confidante, #1 cheerleader, and friend.”
Nancy will never forget Dr. Oyer’s words of encouragement in a phone call during her initial testing: “Nancy, I think we can make you well.”
Nancy began taking a targeted therapy drug that put her in remission for a year. When her cancer progressed, a new targeted therapy drug was then available that has allowed her to remain in remission for two years.
Gratitude and Hope
Citing everyone from the greeters, housekeepers and Image Recovery Center cosmetologists who made her feel more like herself, to the Infusion Center nurses and entire medical staff, Nancy describes the atmosphere at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute as one of “healing, hope and peace.”
“For me personally, the chaplains have been so helpful, because this cancer journey is not just a physical one; it’s a very real spiritual battle. I battled daily the challenge of living in faith over fear,” says Nancy. “I could not have had peace in this journey without a close relationship with God.”
The Journey Continues
A scan in fall 2019 showed that Nancy’s lung tumor had grown slightly and she began receiving radiation treatment.
“I’m so thankful that the medicine I’ve been taking for two years is still working everywhere else. And I’m thankful for this option of treatment,” she says. “It’s because of all the resources available in Lancaster County that I can receive excellent care while I’m at my favorite place—home.”