In her more than 30 years as an X-ray technician at St. Anthony Community Hospital, Lori Lade has learned what it means to work in the close-knit Westchester Medical Center Health Network.
Over those three decades with the hospital’s radiology department, the 66-year-old Warwick resident has made compassionate care a priority: greeting patients warmly, explaining procedures, encouraging questions and offering reassurance. Lade said she takes special interest in helping trauma patients receive the empathy and support they need.
Her career has also reminded her to safeguard her own health. With a deep family history of gynecological cancer — ovarian, uterine and cervical — Lade was diligent about getting annual checkups.
In 2014, Lade received potentially concerning, though inconclusive, results following a blood test to detect early signs of ovarian cancer. The follow-up abdominal and pelvic CT scan did not diagnose her condition because the image was masked by advanced abdominal changes caused by diverticulitis. An abdominal laparoscopy was ordered and showed the presence of malignant cells of ovarian origin in the abdomen and pelvis. During surgery to remove her ovaries, uterus and nearby lymph nodes, surgeons detected scar tissue, called surface adhesions, in the bowels, which gave them pause. Further testing revealed the ovarian cancer had spread “like a veil” over her adjacent organs. This kind of cancer, known as serous carcinoma, has such low spatial resolution that it eludes diagnostic imaging tests such as CT scans.
A difficult diagnosis
Dr. Lidia Koulova, medical oncologist at St. Anthony, said Lade’s serious cancer was classified as Stage 3, since it had spread in her body locally, to the lining of her bowel and abdomen.
“It was not confined to its organ of origin, the ovary, but it hadn’t become a distant metastatic disease. Ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognize early on. Initial symptoms may be vague, such as abdominal pain or bowel discomfort; a CT scan may only hint of problems in the abdominal cavity or even a pelvic mass.”
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