Pilot Point Woman Recovers from Cancer with Help from Supporting Specialists|
DENTON, Texas — For Angela Sacarello of Pilot Point, it took all she had to survive two bouts with cancer. Treatment for her battle with stage IV ovarian cancer had left her with a stoma, something few medical professionals could even help show her how to care for, and with little hope for a return to a more normal life.
“Dealing with the changes in my body and caring for myself was difficult,” said Sacarello, who was always looking for answers online and with physicians, but had not found help. “I had already given up so much to fight my cancer, and when I started having issues with my ostomy, I felt like I just had to deal with it. For almost two years I stopped leaving the house unless I had a doctor’s appointment.”
Sacarello saw a flyer for the Living with Cancer Support Group offered by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton, and decided to attend. The busy mother of three and former child care center owner was desperate.
She had watched the full life she led before cancer slip away — grateful that she had survived, but dealing with her “new normal,” which included an ostomy even her home health care nurse had been unable to show her how to use properly. Sacarello needed support.
More than a Number
Rebecca O’Shea, cancer program coordinator and oncology navigator at Texas Health Denton and co-facilitator of the Living With Cancer Support Group, knew immediately that something was wrong upon meeting Sacarello. O'Shea set about to help Sacarello get the resources she needed through the hospital's Wound Care and Ostomy Center.
“When you are fighting cancer, all that matters to you is getting better,” said O’Shea. “After successful cancer treatment, many just like Angela feel like they have to accept the changes that treatment have caused, even if they have negatively impacted their quality of life.”
O’Shea co-facilitates the group with Chaplain Trish Williamson, who makes sure the spiritual and emotional aspects of living with cancer are addressed, in addition to recommending resources that may help improve patients’ quality of life. Sacarello had received treatment in Houston for cancer but had felt isolated back home in Pilot Point, a small town in Denton County. O’Shea and Williamson were able to connect her with a center that could help Sacarello with the complications she was having with her ostomy.
“Texas Health Denton is committed to addressing the needs of our community members, and having highly-trained nurses and physicians on the medical staff in our Wound Care and Ostomy Center to provide comprehensive care is very important to us,” Simone Turner, R.N., B.S.N., M.P.A., director of nursing and acute care services at Texas Health Denton, said. “Having specialized care for the treatment of chronic or non-healing wounds can have a huge impact on a patients’ quality of life.”
A Diet of Compassion
After receiving some education and helpful tips, Sacarello has been able to create a new post-cancer life that is better than she ever expected. The support group also connected her with experts in nutrition who were able to guide her to an ostomy-friendly diet. Sacarello had always eaten well and taken care of herself before cancer, but she was able to now use these additional resources to make life in remission much easier.
“Thanks to the compassionate and competent care at The Wound Care and Ostomy Center, my two-year struggle with ostomy complications is over,” said Sacarello. “They have changed my life – improved my life – forever.”
Sacarello continues to participate in the Living With Cancer Support Group, and recently attended the Bluebonnet Retreat, a three-day event designed for adult cancer patients at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford. With the support group, Sacarello shares her story of perseverance through cancer.
“I had been diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer,” Sacarello remembered. “I didn’t know where to go or who to turn to — my cancer was so rare that my doctors were sending my pathology all over the country. My mother is a breast cancer survivor, and I knew I was a fighter like her, but I had never felt like I was at risk for a cancer like this.”
A fighter indeed: Sacarello’s story includes ovarian cancer had been beaten, but had returned, metastasized throughout her abdomen. That time, she needed much more invasive surgery, which included removing part of her colon where the cancer had spread. This resulted in the colostomy that Sacarello had struggled with since 2011. Additionally, Sacarello experienced grief, mourning the loss of a life that previously had included a child care center she owned and operated that she had to close to fight her cancer.
“When looking at Angela, you would never know that she is living with cancer,” Williamson said. “Angela is such a beautiful person, inside and out, and has the spirit necessary to transform her illness into an opportunity to grow and share with others.”
Sacarello now has a new mission, celebrating life with her loving husband Ralph and supporting daughter Lauren; spending time with her first grandchild, Colton, a 6-year-old with a lot of energy; helping her youngest child, Steven, 15, learn to drive and excel in high school; and serving as a regular participant in the Living With Cancer Support Group.
“It’s definitely healing to be able to offer help to people as well as receive help,” Sacarello said. “I just try to give back as I can to people who need tips on how to approach certain things. I try to keep things positive and motivating. That’s one of the secrets of battling cancer – attitude, which is greatly important in trying to fight the battle. If there is anyone who needs to talk, we are all there for each other.”
The Living With Cancer Support Group, for cancer patients and survivors, meets from 1 to 2 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month. Meetings are held in the Rio Grande room at Texas Health Denton, located at 3000 North I-35.
The Wound Care and Ostomy Center at Texas Health Denton offers specialized treatment for ostomy patients, including self-care education, product use and adjusting to life with a stoma. For more information or to speak with a nurse, call 940-898-7182.
For more information about Texas Health Denton, visit TexasHealth.org/Denton.
About Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton is a 255-bed acute-care, full-service hospital that has served North Texas and southern Oklahoma since 1987. The hospital’s services include: heart and vascular; a Level III neonatal intensive care unit; orthopedics and sports medicine; neck, spine and pain management; emergency medicine; an accredited sleep center; women’s services; and a weight loss surgery program that has been designated a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence. As one of the largest employers in Denton County, Texas Health Denton has more than 900 employees and more than 300 physicians on the medical staff practicing in more than 45 specialties. Texas Health Denton is an accredited chest pain center, and is certified by the Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center and designated by the State of Texas as a Primary Stroke Facility. Texas Health Denton is an affiliate of Texas Health Resources, one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States.
About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health systems in the United States. The health system includes 25 acute care and short-stay hospitals that are owned, operated, joint-ventured or affiliated with Texas Health Resources. It includes the Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Arlington Memorial and Texas Health Harris Methodist hospitals, Huguley Memorial Medical Center, Texas Health Physicians Group, outpatient facilities, behavioral health and home health, preventive and fitness services, and an organization for medical research and education. For more information about Texas Health Resources, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org.