Overview of Loretta's cancer story

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Overview of Loretta's cancer story

Loretta O'Donnell, 59, of Mount Laurel, a former journalist and public information officer for Burlington County and the State of NJ, was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer three years ago in March coincidentally during Colon Cancer Awareness Month. She was assistant press officer for the County for six years at the time of diagnosis. After surgery for a colon resection and to remove tumors on her ovaries, she began chemotherapy at Cooper University Hospital and began volunteer writing for their cancer newsletter about her experiences and complementary guidance such as nutrition, exercise and perseverance.

Her first six-month round of chemo was successful but two small spots remained in her liver. After six months of targeted maintenance therapy, cancer activity resumed and she started a second round of new chemo in 2011 for her liver and abdominal lymph node. Loretta also attended educational workshops and joined a meditation support group through her Cooper cancer center and the LiveStrong exercise classes at the Burlington County YMCA for cancer survivors. The support group developed into a close knit group of women who meet weekly at members' homes.

The chemo kept the cancer relatively stable until November 2012 when tests showed progression in her liver and she started a new chemo pill Stivarga just approved by the FDA. She had learned about the new pill by joining the Colon Cancer Alliance and attending its national conference in Baltimore. She also met a radiologist from the area who spoke of treatments including Sirs Spheres, where many tiny beads are injected into the liver to shrink cancer lesions with little damage to healthy tissue. Shortly after the conference, Loretta and her husband Bill and daughter Laura, a physical therapist, participated in the Alliance's 5K fundraiser in Philadelphia.

She began volunteer writing for the American Chronic Pain Association newsletter about what she had learned regarding physical therapy, yoga and meditation. She explored integrative medicine options and traveled to specialists in New York and Chicago. She also joined and participates in national online cancer information networks such as COLONlistserv@acor.og.

In January, tests showed that the pill was not working and the cancer had progressed further. Following up on what she had learned about liver interventions, she joined another support group, Say YES to Hope, BeatLiverTumors.org that helped her learn more about the options and decide to try Sirs-Spheres which is not performed at all medical centers. She participated in a fundraiser for the organization in February in New York where she modeled a designer gown with other survivors in front of a few hundred people including life-long friends and her son Mike. Two Columbia University journalism graduate students who had seen a newspaper article about her online filmed her throughout the event and interviewed her for 2 broadcast videos.

A photographer who saw one of Loretta's articles and photo in the cancer center newsletter contacted her to photograph her for a book she compiled about women breast cancer survivors. She photographed Loretta in her Mrs. Incredible costume to be the last page of her book and Loretta wrote her story with the goal to inspire others. Loretta is now volunteering to edit the other women's survey responses.

Loretta had the first Sirs Spheres procedure for the right lobe on Feb. 26 at Pennsylvania University Hospital, and will return for the left lobe on April 2. On March 7, Loretta attended Katie Couric's show Katie, which was devoted to cancer , wearing a T shirt stating "In the Fight." Loretta met healtheo360 reps there and hopes to share that experience with others as further inspiration. She maintains a page on www.caringbridge.org/visit/lorettaodonnell to share information and connections.


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Loretta - The Sirs Spheres Procedure is truly remarkable. I it was so good to see you and Bill at the Katie Couric Show and you looked great. Healtheo360 is so happy you have joined our community to help us support others just like you who are fighting the good fight. This year Relay For Life is going to host the first ever event in Manhattan on June 1st and 2nd and Team healtheo360 will be there to support the event. You can read more about it in our Support Group section of this site by clicking on the Relay For Life Sponsor Page. This is going to be a wonderful event and one I am really looking forward to. If you and Bill would like to join our team at the event, we would love to have you. We are a small team but working to make a difference with this community and attending events. I hope to read more about your journey on this site and hope to see you at the Relay For Life event. As Always - Be Well. Dave

Mar 09, 2013 - 2:27 PM by David D

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