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Margaret Rovell

Living for Today

Holy Name Cancer Patient stories - Margaret Rovell

In the past, when Margaret Rovell saw friends or family members with cancer, she wondered what she would do if she ever developed the disease. Would she fight and go through what could be grueling treatments or would she let nature take its course?

“I’ve seen a lot of people go through cancer treatment and I wasn’t sure if I would do it,” Margaret said. “Some became very sick and ultimately passed away. I wondered if their quality of life would have been better if they didn’t go through treatment. Would I put myself and those around me through that?”

Then Margaret faced her own diagnosis. She had endometrial cancer.

“I was very scared but at that point, I realized there was no decision to be made – I was going to do whatever I had to do to fight it,” she said.

As her gynecologist, Dr. Nicole Palomar, with Holy Name Medical Center, told Margaret she had cancer she pulled out a card with information on the gynecologic oncologists at Holy Name. “This is who I want you to see,” she said.

Margaret had been born in Holy Name, and used it through the years. She didn’t hesitate for a moment and called Dr. Maria Schiavone, a gynecologic oncologist, for an appointment. Dr. Palomar forwarded Margaret’s information to Dr. Schiavone.

“When I got to her office, from the moment I met her I felt very at ease,” Margaret said. “You know when people say someone is a dream, well she’s a dream times ten-plus! She already had my history, my diagnosis and a plan on how to treat it. I was there for a few hours and she explained everything very clearly to me.”

Getting treatment

Initially, the diagnosis shocked her. Endometrial cancer occurs in the inner lining of the uterus and hers was aggressive. She faced surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

“I felt so much better after Dr. Schiavone gave me my treatment plan and I knew what each step would be,” Margaret said. “I was overwhelmed but at the same time I felt like while it wasn’t great news, it wasn’t awful news and we had a plan.”

Friends had their own opinions and were telling her to go to one of the big medical centers in New York City for a second opinion and treatment.

“I didn’t want to go anywhere else,” Margaret said. “I’m very comfortable with Holy Name and the wonderful team in Dr. Schiavone’s office. They set me up with “chemo school” – I toured the area where I would receive my treatments, got a calendar with my treatment schedule and was told exactly what to expect step by step. I was also told about other services available such as acupuncture, which I went to every week from the beginning – it was very beneficial.”

Margaret recovered well from surgery and handled the symptoms she had been warned about from chemotherapy. She lost her hair, and though she ordered a wig, she only wore it if she went out in public. “I felt like I had a beaver on my head,” she explained.

She had some pains in her legs but no nausea. “My brother had lung cancer and the treatment did him in. Mine wasn’t so bad.”

“The doctors, nurses and staff at Holy Name were just amazing,” Margaret said. “After my husband saw the kind of care I got, he switched to all Holy Name doctors. The tagline ‘This Place is Different’ is so true.”

Her role in healing

Before her surgery, Margaret lost 25 pounds from the disease and treatment took away what little appetite she had. But after meeting with a Holy Name nutritionist, Margaret started eating more and putting back some of the weight.

She also tried to do as much physically as she could throughout her treatment. She would walk every day – outside or just in her house – and she never parked in the hospital’s parking lot but rather on side streets. “I knew the walk was good for me and I know others were sicker than I was, so I left the parking space for them.”

Two years after her diagnosis, Margaret’s faith is stronger than ever. She prayed to Padre Pio, an Italian priest who had been sickly most of his life, and she said she felt “someone was watching over me through my whole journey.” She also doesn’t worry about tomorrow.

“I don’t think anyone is cancer-free but right now I have no signs of cancer,” Margaret said. “I used to worry about what was going to happen tomorrow but now I live for today.”

Learn more about uterine cancer treatment at Holy Name