At first, Betsy Soule thought she had a case of food poisoning.
She was vomiting and had severe stomach pain.
But the mysterious illness didn’t go away, entirely at least. This was November 2011. Fast forward two months and Betsy was relayed the devastating news that no one wants to here: she had cancer.
“My primary care provider called me into her office to tell me I had colangiocarcinoma – liver cancer of the bile duct.”
Betsy, an attorney by trade, is the executive director of Metro West Legal Services, a legal aid office helping low-income, elderly, or disabled people who can’t afford a lawyer. This time, however, it was Betsy who needed help.
The following week, she met with surgeon Roger Jenkins, MD, of Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, who started a proactive regimen of care.
To start, Dr. Jenkins asked Betsy what she knew about this cancer.
“I said I looked it up and saw it’s rare and incurable,” she said. “He said to me, ‘Well, it’s not that rare. And it’s not incurable, either.'”
The conversation was a “game-changer.” Betsy went from thinking she might die to focusing on her treatment.
Still, the joy following the success of her treatment was short-lived, as less than three years later Betsy was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
“My immediate reaction was you have got to be kidding me. Wasn’t once enough?” she said. “But it was comforting to know I had the same team with me that I had at the start.”
This team included LHMC oncologist Francis Nugent, MD.
“Dr. Nugent has been with me the whole way. It’s calming to know you’ve got somebody you can call when you need them,” Betsy said. “The Lahey folks, they’re the experts. When there are different choices or decisions to be made, I look to my doctors.”
Among her confidants is a group of close friends. For Betsy, an only child with limited family in the area, friends are like family and now they were more important than ever.
“They just gathered around and took over,” she said.
Any cancer survivor will say it’s a life altering experience, by any stretch of the imagination. Now, Betsy has been cancer-free for two years.
She said of beating the disease not once, but twice, “It gives me a lot of hope for the future.”
Check out the Lahey Health Cancer Institute for more information on our cancer care services.