Mother, Personal Effectiveness/ADHD Coach and Cancer Survivor
In addition to working with individual clients at her practice in Hopewell, NJ, Linda Sepe coaches organizations in how to maximize their potential. As one of the first full time coaches to be trained by the American Coaching Association on the east coast and after 15 years of coaching experience, Linda says her experience as a breast cancer survivor at the Capital Health Regional Cancer Center allowed her the opportunity to witness firsthand what she calls an example of “great camaraderie and a great culture of communication.”
Prior to her cancer diagnosis, Linda had become familiar with Capital Health since she and her family moved to Hopewell from Baltimore, MD in 1990. Before she became a coach, she worked with many at-risk families at the Millhill Child and Family Development Corporation in Trenton. She says the families spoke of the great care they and their families received from Capital’s Pediatrics Department. She became a patient of Dr. Robert Remstein in Pennington, and after he left to become vice president of Medical Affairs at Capital Health, she remained in the care of the doctors at Mercer Internal Medicine, who are members of the Capital Health Medical Staff. When her son had injuries from playing baseball, she took him to the Capital Health Emergency Department where she says the care was second to none.
“I’ve been going there for years, but I never knew that the Capital Health Regional Cancer Center existed until I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Linda said. She was diagnosed in September 2009 after a routine mammogram and received confirmation after a follow-up breast biopsy by her surgeon Dr. Joseph DellaCroce. Dr. DellaCroce performed a partial mastectomy, which she says is now hardly noticeable thanks to his work.
“After the surgery, I began researching where I should go for my radiation and chemotherapy treatment, so I asked many of my friends and they suggested I look out of town at some of the hospitals in Philadelphia and New York. But during my follow-up visit with Dr. DellaCroce, he told me that the great care that I would get at any of those places was already available right here at Capital Health…the excellent medical care first and foremost, but also the intimate staff, the great physicians, and the close proximity to home which was particularly important to me because I had no one to bring me back and forth for my treatment.”
So with Dr. DellaCroce’s recommendation and all of her past experiences with other Capital Health services, she chose the Capital Health Regional Cancer Center. She began to see an oncologist, Dr. David Schaebler, and shortly after began her first course of chemotherapy. Between the effects of the chemotherapy and the resulting lack of nutrition in her body, Linda had to be admitted to the Capital Health Regional Cancer Center’s inpatient unit, known as the 6 East unit at Capital Health – Mercer hospital, until she recovered. It was there that she began to see what she calls the “fabulous medical care” that would become a recurring part of her treatment.
“Everybody was so nice and attentive to my needs. If I needed water, somebody was right there to get it for me. Everyday, the housekeeping staff would stop by to take care of my room and every time they would ask me how I was feeling. Everybody scrubbed and washed their hands, taking every precaution to make me feel safe and cared for, but they also would talk to me and show me such great kindness.”
“I, like many other people I guess, assume great medical care when I come to a hospital. The kindness I found at Capital Health was extra, and when you’re sick like I was, it really heals you.”
After Linda’s recovery from chemotherapy, she began receiving radiation therapy from the Radiation Oncology Department at Capital Health Regional Cancer Center.
“I began my treatment and soon after with my radiation oncologist Dr. [Shirnett] Williamson. In radiation oncology, they use very large machines that can be intimidating. But Dr. Williamson was so great at explaining to me what each machine does and why it does it that I felt very calm. I had complete faith in the care I was getting. I was completely confident in my physician and the staff at Capital Health, who are all artists of their craft and very well trained in what they do.”
Linda and Dr. Williamson started the treatment planning in January 2010 and finished in mid-March. In total, Linda received 33 radiation treatments during the two and a half months.
“With as much as they do everyday, the staff could’ve been abrupt, but not one person was ever short with me or too busy to help me. They are so incredibly lovely and wonderful—I felt surrounded by love.”
Linda says that even the people she met in the waiting area were extremely nice and very supportive during her tough times.
“Before I was diagnosed, I didn’t know how many women had breast cancer. I met people in radiation that I never met before, and in four minutes or less, we were exchanging stories and talking about ways to help each other get through the treatment together,” Linda said.
Since her last radiation treatment, she has received a follow-up CT scan and PET scan to make sure that the cancer has not metastasized (spread to other parts of the body). She will come back for another follow-up CT scan in October.
“What I’ve learned after having cancer is that you never have the same confidence in your body again. When you get the flu, it eventually heals and you’re ready to move on. But with cancer, you never feel confident in you body to say ‘I’m good.’ But that being said, I’ve learned that life, for me, is about living day-to-day and living life to its fullest. And you look at every day differently and live each day with gratitude and delight. When someone asks, ‘How are you doing?’ you can say ‘I’m good.’ and you really mean it,” Linda said.
Linda had many decisions to make about the care she would receive after she was diagnosed, and today, she is very confident in the choice she made when she picked the Capital Health Regional Cancer Center over other out-of-state hospitals for her care.
“Not one minute have I ever doubted the choice I made to come to Capital Health Regional Cancer Center,” said Linda.