UW Carbone patient’s journey with cancer ran alongside the pandemic

One Year Ago: Cancer Patient Reflects on Surgery at the Beginning of the Pandemic
One Year Ago: Cancer Patient Reflects on Surgery at the Beginning of the Pandemic(UW Health)
Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 5:39 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A woman who was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer last year has experienced her journey with cancer alongside the pandemic.

Emily Tropp, 43, was initially diagnosed on Dec. 23, 2019 at SwedishAmerican Regional Cancer Center in Rockford, Illinois, according to a news release. At this time, UW Health noted COVID-19 was emerging overseas.

Tropp started chemotherapy at SwedishAmerican in January. On Feb. 7, two days after UW Health confirmed the first COVID-19 case in Wisconsin, the health system told Tropp that she had the BRCA1 Cancer gene.

“It felt like every time I saw my medical team, they were wearing more PPE,” said Tropp. “I was hoping to have my support system of friends and family with me, but my friends ended up holding signs outside my window instead of being at my bedside.”

UW Health explained Tropp was preparing for surgery at the UW Carbone Cancer Center exactly one year ago from Wednesday. Her surgery was also just a few days after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Tropp’s surgery was long and extensive, UW Health noted, but ended with the removal of all visible cancer.

“For cases like Emily’s, it was imperative to begin comprehensive treatment, including surgery, as soon as possible regardless of the circumstances happening around us,” said Dr. Al-Niaimi, who performed the surgery. “But those early days were surreal. Things were changing by the day as we worked hard to keep all our patients safe from a virus we still knew very little about.”

Tropp continued undergoing chemotherapy through May, and in June of 2020, she received good news- doctors declared Tropp had “No Evidence of Disease” and she has held that status ever since.

“Dr. Al-Niaimi saved my life and I don’t have words to describe my gratitude,” she said. “I’m so grateful for his expertise and his care.”

UW Carbone encouraged the community to not delay screenings for caner and to schedule mammograms or colonoscopies as soon as possible. People should also reach out to their doctor if they are having concerning or unexplained symptoms.

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