At age 41, Amy Lennon was diagnosed at Lankenau with a rare, slow growing osteosarcoma in her femur. Limb salvage surgery spared her leg. Amy’s surgery with Dr. Richard Schmidt successfully rid her of the cancerous tissue with no need for chemotherapy or radiation therapy. She continues to make the 90-minute commute to check in with Dr. Schmidt every six months.
I was training for a 10 mile run when I felt a persistent pain in my knee. When an X-Ray revealed a large dark shadow in my leg, my doctor in Trenton, NJ recommended Dr. Schmidt at Lankenau, saying he was “the best of the best.” That convinced me to drive the 90 minutes from my home to Lankenau to see a doctor I’d never met before.
I was in to see Dr. Schmidt within a week of my X-Ray. Initial biopsy testing came back as benign, but Dr. Schmidt insisted on further testing just to be sure.
To call a patient and break the news that they have cancer is bad enough. Dr. Schmidt had to tell me I had cancer after initial testing had detected none. I could sense how hard it was for him to make that call and I felt his compassion. When he told me the news, he made it personal; he maintained a sense of confidence that we could beat it – as a team; he managed to put me at ease even over the phone. I was fully confident in him from the start, knowing he was steering me in the right direction. I felt no need for a second opinion.
Dr. Schmidt had a wonderful bedside manner. He is serious in that he gets down to the details and wants to take care of you as soon as possible, and in the best way possible. But despite all that seriousness, I still felt his empathy and kindness in all that he said and did. If I needed him, he was there. I never felt rushed, it was like I was his only patient.
After surgery I was an inpatient at Lankenau for a few days. From beginning to end everyone was, to put it simply, extremely nice. From the woman at the desk who took my insurance information, to the pre-op nurses and the surgical and anesthesia team, I felt prepared and confident for my surgery. As an inpatient, regardless of the time of day, and no matter who my nurse or caregiver was, I was attended to and cared for with sincere compassion. I never felt like I was a burden. Every call was quickly responded to, every question answered. I was treated with kindness by everyone, from the person who delivered my meals, to the person who cleaned the room and brought supplies.
Because of Dr. Schmidt I can ride my bike, I can play basketball with my kids, I can have a normal life. If he hadn’t pursued deeper tests and investigated further, my cancer could have been missed, and when eventually found, it might have been too late for my leg...or my life.
I think you can tell a lot about a person by who they surround themselves with. Dr. Schmidt’s office is full of some of the warmest, personable and caring staff I have ever encountered. He is a pioneer who will continue to save lives, like he saved mine.
Originally appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of Lankenau Leaders