May 18, 2015

Ronda EzzEldin | Breast cancer survivor

Our friend and colleague Ronda EzzEldin passed away on Nov. 16, 2015. She shared her story below so others would have hope. She will be missed.

“I am not only a proud employee of UAMS, I am also a breast cancer survivor. In April of 2013 my breast cancer was found during a routine mammogram at another hospital. I knew exactly where to go. I work closely with the Cancer Institute on my job with UAMS. I was so scared and I picked the phone up and called the oncology department in tears and I said, “I just found out I have breast cancer and I don’t know what to do.” I was told by a wonderful, compassionate, caring person, to not worry, they would take care of me. I immediately was comforted.

Dr. Laura Hutchins is my oncologist and Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman was my surgeon. I cannot say enough nice things about these folks. They took excellent care of me. We did chemo in Infusion 1. I was lucky enough to have my coworkers handling my chemo. As far as having chemo goes, it was a wonderful experience. I was treated with professionalism and kindness. They all knew I was scared and were all so amazing and supportive and answered all my questions patiently. I had an exceptional team working with me to fight my battle. I had a bilateral mastectomy in October 2013, followed up by radiation. All went very well. I was cleared on March 28, 2014. It was a glorious day!

But then beginning in June 2014, I started feeling strange in the center of my chest. I wrote it off as anxiety and this rocked on till September when I went to see my oncologist Dr. Hutchins for a checkup. I voiced my concerns and asked for testing. They did not hesitate and took me very seriously and sent me for a CT scan. Something showed up in the center of my chest. After a CT guided biopsy, it was determined my cancer had returned.

Dr. Hutchins worked with my radiation team and Dr. Hardee. It was decided we would do radiation to this area. We began radiation in January 2015. In February 2015, I was admitted to the hospital for cancer related pain. Suddenly, without warning, my blood pressure dropped and couldn’t be stabilized and I experienced multiple organ failure. I was finally stabilized and began dialysis. My liver began working again but it took almost a month for my kidneys to begin functioning again. Dr. Hutchins was there every single day and after a week, we resumed my radiation therapy and I finished it on March 16, the day I was released from the hospital, after 24 days. However, on the scans we did while I was in the hospital, there were no signs of the cancer! The radiation therapy was working!

So far, I am still cancer free. UAMS and all the specialists from the Cancer Institute saved my life. I am happily back at work now and feeling great. I cannot be more proud to work for such an outstanding hospital with cutting-edge treatment being done by the Cancer Institute. Because of this, I am a two-time cancer survivor and look forward to a long, happy life with my husband, kids, family and friends.

How do you say thank you for the amazing work they do at the Cancer Institute, which saved my life, twice?! They provided me with wigs and literature and support 24/7. When I was in the hospital, my husband would put me in a wheelchair and we would go to the Cancer Institute and hang out because it’s such a place of comfort and healing. I thoroughly believe they helped me be strong and to fight my cancer with not only cutting edge treatment, but with the positive and encouragement from every single person who works in the Cancer Institute. I always, and still do, feel welcomed and like they are happy to see me when I come for my checkups. I can’t imagine getting that kind of care from anywhere but the Cancer Institute.

Again, my family and I thank you more than we could ever express.”

Ronda EzzEldin
Breast cancer survivor
Benton, Ark.