Patrick Russo

Diagnosis

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Physician

Robert Christie, M.D., F.A.C.P.

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.

Virginia Cancer Specialists was recommended to me by a colleague who happens to be a highly acclaimed medical professional in the DC area. I was diagnosed on May 6th 2014 at the age of 25. My cancer was initially detected when I was getting ready for work at my new job one morning and I noticed abnormal swelling near my collar bone. I monitored it for about a week before I went into Urgent Care on Easter Sunday. That appointment triggered numerous x-rays, scans, and eventually a biopsy. There was no history of Blood Disorders/Cancer in my family.

Did you have a support network? If not, how did you overcome it or find it? Unfortunately, my diagnosis came just 5 weeks after I had moved to the DC area for a new job, and away from my hometown of Pittsburgh. After meeting with Dr. Christie, he explained to me my detailed treatment plan, and assured me that I was going to beat this. It was at that moment that I knew that I felt comfortable receiving treatment at VCS versus heading back home to be with my family. The distance proved not to be an issue as I had the strong support of my family and friends, the entire staff at VCS, and of course my dog Rooney.

What do you want others to know about Virginia Cancer Specialists? VCS is more than just an oncology practice that monitors you through your treatment and checks the boxes. The doctors, nurses, and administrators became like a family to me, and they add that personal touch that I had never received from a care provider before. Everyone is on your side, and truly does whatever it takes to ensure your overall health and comfortability.

After I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in May, 2014, I received 12 rounds of chemotherapy over 6 months. Since I had just started a new job, I continued to work through treatment, and I would work from home on days following infusions. In December 2014, I received the call from Dr. Christie that I was officially cancer free. During my treatment, I got really involved with the DC Leukemia and Lymphoma Society chapter, and now I serve as a motivational speaker for them, sharing my story at fundraising events and ceremonies. Since 2014, my personal fundraising team that consists of my family and friends has raised close to $50k for blood cancer research and cures.

Virginia Cancer Specialits won’t treat you like just another patient. Everyone at the practice is dedicated to your personal treatment plan and will be with you every step of the way. A VCS helpline is a phone call away if you ever need anything immediate during your treatment. If you need to speak with someone ASAP about an issue, that option is readily available, which is extremely comforting.

What message would you like to provide others in the community/to someone recently diagnosed?  You are certainly not alone. There are several support groups throughout the area that you can contact if you wish to speak to someone who can relate to your situation. Never be afraid to reach out for help.