The Lahey Health Cancer Institute (LHCI) offers uniquely personal care from a team that supports you through each step of your cancer treatment and recovery. We are pleased to introduce you to some of the team members you may meet on your journey, as well as others who contribute to patient care “behind the scenes.”
Some experiences in life define who you are and set the path for what you will become. Sandra Areias knows this firsthand. Sandra was always the caretaker in her family and was always interested in nursing, but her fate was sealed when she witnessed a loved one’s battle with cancer.
“That was a paradigm moment for me,” Sandra recalls. “It made me a better nurse.”
Not only did Sandra grow up in the role of caregiver, she says she also grew up at Lahey. She joined Lahey Hospital & Medical Center as a nursing assistant in the inpatient oncology unit before attending nursing school, and has been here ever since — all the while obtaining her associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing.
No one knows until it happens how they’ll react to hearing they have cancer. It’s a diagnosis that brings about a lot of questions. The first questions oncologist Saritha Bolla, MD, hears most often however, aren’t about the disease specifically, or side effects of the treatments; they’re about how cancer will impact the patient’s family, or their travel plans, or their job. Will their entire world be about treating their cancer?
“I don’t want their life to revolve around their diagnosis,” says Dr. Bolla.
“I tell my patients that you don’t need to worry about everything right away,” says Bolla. “I tell them that we’re going to walk them through this. That they’re gaining a team.”
For Karin Leppanen, RN, nursing is truly an inspired path.
Pre-med when she started college, Karin switched her focus to nursing after being inspired by her aunt, a nurse. Her aunt’s motivation to study nursing? Karin. Whose childhood illness resonated with her and drove her to pursue health care.
But inspiration wasn’t just the impetus for Karin to begin her career — it’s what motivates her every day.
“I’m humbled every day by the oncology patients,” Karin says. “It’s truly an honor to work with a patient and their family. It’s amazing to me how much trust they put in the staff from the moment they meet us. They really open their arms and see us as an extension of their family.”
Janet Gallant Wood, MSN, ANP-BC, Nurse Practitioner, Gynecologic Oncology at the Winchester Hospital Center forCancer Care, has never questioned her choice to work in health care. She did wonder at one point, though, whether to become a doctor or a nurse. She ultimately chose nursing because, at the time, it allowed her to treat people as a whole rather than just the specific disease they were facing. A lot has changed in medicine in the 30+ years Janet has been practicing, but nursing remains the best fit for her.
“Nursing is the perfect blend of loving the science of medicine and the art of healing,” she says.
If you ask Shakeeb Yunus, MD, about being a doctor, he’ll talk about family — and the importance of human connection.
Dr.Yunus comes from a family of physicians and was struck early on by the power of the doctor-patient relationship. That is what drove him to study medicine and what motivates him every day.
Corrine Zarwan, MD, has an office full of photos. Pictures of family and loved ones and places she’s traveled line her walls and shelves. One image differs from the rest: it’s of clocks — taken by a patient and given to Dr. Zarwan as a gift.
“She said it’s because I gave her the gift of time,” says Zarwan, Director of the Women’s Cancer Program at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center and Associate Director and Clinical Research Director of the Lahey Health Cancer Institute. The patient is battling breast cancer, but thanks to treatment is feeling well enough to go back to school, where she’s enrolled in a photography class.