In 2011, Robin Poole was diagnosed with breast cancer, went through a mastectomy, chemotherapy and 33 radiation treatments. Then, three years later, she felt a lump on her neck—the cancer was back two places, a lymph node and near her mediastinum.
Her doctor flatly told her she had two years to live.
“My mom and dad were sitting there,” Poole says. “I just fell into my dad’s arms, and we all cried.”
The lymph node was removed surgically, but she didn’t want to go through chemo again—particularly because she had also been diagnosed with hepatitis B.
“If you have chemo and you have hepatitis B it can cause you to have a relapse,” she says. “I was mad. It’s like the universe was picking on me.”
Formerly from Knoxville, Poole, who now lives in Decatur, Ala., knew about the Provision Center for Proton Therapy going up in her former hometown and wondered if she might be a candidate for treatment.
Her sister called Provision and Poole sent her scans, but the answer came back: no.
At the invitation of a minister she met during her consult at Provision, she attended a local church service where members prayed for a miracle.
The next week she got a call saying Dr. Allen Meek, medical director for Provision Medical Group and breast cancer specialist, had personally reviewed Poole’s case, and she had been accepted for treatment.
Although there was a little burning because of the tumor’s proximity to the esophagus, Poole says after her experience with chemo, proton therapy turned out to be a breeze.
“I loved going to Provision,” she says. “It’s nothing like going to the hospital for treatment. I got my bottled water and chit-chatted with other patients in the lobby. It was just fun.”
Provision’s hospitality team also arranged for some outings, including a University of Tennessee Orange and White football game, viewed from the company skybox, where she ran into former UT football coach Johnny Majors.
The experience has given Poole a new lease on life.
In late June, a PET scan showed her tumor was completely gone. She has returned to Alabama to hang out with her niece and nephew. She hopes to leave behind her accounting career for work that involves animals and the elderly.
“I’ve realized how short life can be,” she says. “Once you’ve been through what I have, every day means something. You don’t sweat the small stuff.”
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