Esophageal Cancer

Strangers No More

bob and olga are esophageal cancer patientsHe loves horses. She loves the theatre. He lives in the winding fields of Glocester, RI. She lives in Hopkinton, MA. He is most at home in the country. She proudly states her roots are in Boston. He is Bob Novick. She is Olga Melnick. Until recently, it would appear they had very little in common. Until last year, that is, when Bob went to his doctor for indigestion. Olga had the same complaint seven years prior. That’s when their connection became bigger than all their differences. Bob had esophageal cancer. Olga had it too.

From this point forward, Bob and Olga’s stories are remarkably similar. They both came to Community Cancer Care in Milford for treatment. Bob was under the care of Michael Constantine, MD. Olga was treated by Mona Kaddis, MD. Their admiration and gratitude toward their respective physicians is undeniable. “Dr. Constantine was like a father to me,” Bob stated. “I needed a lot of reassurance. He took me under his wing and guided me through everything.”

Olga echoed Bob’s sentiment. “Dr. Kaddis was always available. She was always there. She always had the time. She was very compassionate and thorough.”

Both of their treatment plans involved chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. It wasn’t easy. However, Bob and Olga were quick to point to the oncology staff as their anchor during this difficult time. Bob referred to them as “family.”

“The oncology staff was that outside friend, that outside sister, your counselor, your psychologist,” Olga expressed. “I could share the way I felt with the staff here; they see so much of it. They were my salvation. Their strength gave me strength. They kept me going.”

We brought Bob and Olga together to discuss the recent opening of the new Cancer Center at Milford Regional Medical Center–an exciting collaboration with Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DFBWCC). Drs. Kaddis and Constantine, along with their staff, have moved across the street from Milford Regional’s main campus into a new 54,000 square foot, comprehensive cancer care facility which includes radiation therapy. Tremendous care was taken to garner input from cancer patients in the design of the structure. While the chemotherapy bays have grown from seven to 22, the architects ensured that patients have a choice of semi-private, private and extremely private surroundings based upon their individual preferences. A quiet, tranquil, beautifully landscaped area called the Healing Garden can also be viewed from the facility’s glass façade and accessed by patients and loved ones for a time of respite.

Bob and Olga are extremely excited about the partnership between DFBWCC with Milford Regional. Since both had to travel to other facilities for radiation therapy, they understand the significance of having all cancer services in one location. Bob had radiation therapy for 28 days consecutive days. “It was cumbersome,” he said. “Traveling is very difficult when you are being treated. It would have been so much nicer to have all my care at the same place.”

Olga was so ill, she needed her daughter to drive her to radiation therapy in Framingham five days a week for 30 days as well as transport her for ongoing appointments to Dr. Kaddis in Milford. She knows better than anyone how taxing travel can be at this time to both patients and their loved ones. “Having all cancer services in one location will give patients more quality time with their family rather than spending it driving in a car,” she said. “Plus having the staff you are familiar with around you for all phases of treatment will make it an easier experience.”

In their own words, Bob and Olga are doing “great” and “fantastic.” Though their backgrounds are hugely different, during this brief encounter, their bond was immediate. They are strangers no more. And when it comes to their decision to choose Drs. Kaddis and Constantine for their care, Olga speaks for both of them when she stated quite simply, “We’ve got the best here, and that’s why Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s have come to join us. It reaffirms what I already knew.”

See Bob’s video | See Olga’s video

To make an appointment with Dr. Constantine or Dr. Kaddis, call Dana Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center at Milford Regional Medical Center at 508-488-3700.

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