Thursday, March 15, 2012

In Sickness and In Health

A honeymoon filled with chemotherapy and radiation wasn’t exactly what Phil Kenney had hoped for himself and his new bride, Linda. However, that’s exactly how they spent the weeks following their wedding.

It all started in March 2010, when Mr. Kenney was diagnosed with stage IV tonsil cancer. After learning of his diagnosis, Mr. Kenney proposed to Linda, his girlfriend of more than 20 years. On April 17, 2010, one short month after the proposal, the couple was married in a full Catholic wedding. Instead of taking a tropical honeymoon, the following six weeks were spent at GBMC as Mr. Kenney began treatment. He had been referred to GBMC’s Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute, where he could seek the help of head and neck specialists at the Milton J. Dance, Jr., Head and Neck Center. Though it was 300 miles round-trip from the couple’s home in Frostburg, Maryland, they knew that GBMC is where Phil could best receive the comprehensive care he needed.

“I was first seen on a Monday and had a complete care plan by Wednesday,” says Mr. Kenney. After that, he knew he wasn’t going anywhere else. “GBMC offered me all the care I needed under one roof. As a patient, it’s very reassuring to know that all of your doctors and nurses are coordinating your care to help give you the best results possible.”

During  the weeks of  Mr. Kenney’s treatment, he and Linda stayed at the Hope Lodge, a low-cost residence run by the American Cancer Society for cancer patients undergoing treatment more than 40 miles from their homes. Once he had recovered from surgery, his schedule consisted of radiation therapy twice daily on GBMC’s state-of-the-art RapidArc Linear Accelerator and chemotherapy at the Infusion Center once a week. Like all of GBMC’s cancer patients, he also had access to the support of his surgical team, along with other extensively trained oncology professionals like speech pathologists, social workers, voice and swallowing experts, patient navigators, radiation and medical oncologists and a specialized oncology dietitian.

The Kenneys left every Friday afternoon for a brief stay at their home in Frostburg before returning to Baltimore on Sundays. “Being able to stay at the Hope Lodge was a lifesaver,” says Mrs. Kenney. “We knew that GBMC had the best services for head and neck cancer, and being able to stay nearby made our decision even easier.”

Mr. Kenney is back home in Frostburg after completing his treatments, but the care he received at GBMC has made a lasting impression on him and his wife.

“It’s been quite a journey, but everyone at GBMC has made it as pleasant as could be,” says Mrs. Kenney. “Every step of Phil’s care was laid out for us, and all our questions and concerns were addressed. The care he’s received has been a true blessing.”

For more information about the Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute, call 443-849-GBMC (4262) or visit

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