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Lindita Peposhi

New Chemo Treatment Leads to Good Prognosis

Lindita Peposhi had a weird pain on the right side of her abdomen. It wasn't sharp like appendicitis and it wasn't debilitating, but she wanted it checked. A doctor prescribed an antibiotic and it went away for the most part, but occasionally she would get twinges.

Although Lindita had been a nurse in her native Albania, she wasn't qualified for the position in New Jersey so she was working two jobs as a health-care aide before finding one that offered medical benefits. Once she had insurance, she wanted a more thorough exam and found a different physician. Tests showed that at 45 years old, married and with two boys ages 17 and 21, she was facing ovarian cancer.

"Being a nurse didn't help - I was still really scared," Lindita said as she sat with her youngest son and rubbed his knee while her eyes filled with tears. "I just kept thinking about my family."

But as Lindita tells her story, she immediately brightens when she explains how someone recommended Dr. Sharyn Lewin, Medical Director of Gynecologic Oncology at Holy Name Medical Center, who treated her disease.

"She is my angel - I can't say how thankful I am that she took my case," Lindita said. "Everyone at Holy Name, the nurses, the staff, the anesthesiologist, they are all so wonderful and took such good care of me."

Dr. Lewin performed a complete hysterectomy and then prescribed chemotherapy. She also encouraged Lindita to have genetic testing, which ultimately showed a genetic mutation called Lynch syndrome. This is an inherited condition that increases the risk of colorectal and other types of cancer such as ovarian, endometrial, stomach, breast and pancreatic, among others.

With this condition, follow-up care is essential, and Lindita was faithful about keeping her appointments. A little more than a year later, Dr. Lewin found a mass in Lindita's pelvis. The cancer had returned.

She was devastated until Dr. Lewin told her about a treatment that is available at Holy Name and only a select few other hospitals across the country. It has shown remarkable success in treating cancers that have spread to the abdominal cavity. Dr. Lewin joined with Dr. Steve Kwon, a surgical oncologist at Holy Name who specializes in the procedure, known as hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) to treat Lindita.

After her surgery to remove all visible signs of cancer, Lindita was given HIPEC, sometimes called a chemo bath. It is a heated chemotherapy solution that is put directly into the abdomen and continuously circulated for about 90 minutes. HIPEC is designed to kill any remaining cancer cells before the medication is removed and the incision closed.

"Everything went really well with the surgery and treatment," Lindita said. "And I was so happy to hear I didn't need regular chemotherapy again. I feel good now and am taking care of myself. I've changed my diet - only eating organic, no meat or dairy - and rest when I'm tired."

With a good prognosis, Lindita and her family returned to Albania to visit extended family before her sons went back to school. Then she was taking some quiet time for herself before returning to work.

"Dr. Lewin and Dr. Kwon gave me back my life and I am so thankful," she said. "I just want to enjoy my family and take a bit of a rest."

Learn more about Lindita Peposhi's gynecologic oncology doctor today