Commitment and Coordination: How the Lung Nodule Center Team Helped Lynne Rebyak Beat Cancer
“Being cancer-free is a weird feeling,” said Lynne Rebyak. “It’s hard to shake the whirlwind of emotions that was with you for so long. You’re happy, but you’re still depressed. It takes a while to break that and accept what you’ve been through. I feel so fortunate to have made it out alive, when so many people don’t.”
Rebyak, 54, was diagnosed with lung cancer this past winter. A lifelong smoker, her breathing had become impaired, and her doctor spotted something suspicious on her lung.
Rebyak was advised to call the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center – Washington Township and visit Dr. Jay Steinberg, Medical Director of Thoracic Surgery, for further diagnosis and treatment.
“When we first met, Dr. Steinberg was fairly certain what he saw was inoperable. This was difficult to hear, to say the least,” said Rebyak. “I just wanted it removed. By ‘it,’ I mean the entire upper, left lobe of my lung, along with the cancer.”
Following doctor’s orders, Rebyak quit smoking to improve her breathing, as well as the accuracy and safety of procedures. She underwent many tests, some of which she wasn’t sure she’d make it through, before finally hearing those words – “Good news. You can have the surgery.”
“Dr. Steinberg kept pushing tests. He knew he was going to find the answer,” said Rebyak. “I can’t say enough about him. He has a wonderful bedside manner, he’s caring, and has answers to every question.”
“There was one test they couldn’t do at the cancer center,” Rebyak continued. “Zach Frazier, LPN, went above and beyond trying to find someone who would take me. At first, there were no openings until April 24, which was dangerously far away. He succeeded in getting me in sooner, and there I was, ready for surgery!”
On April 1, Rebyak had her lobectomy at Jefferson Washington Township Hospital and stayed in recovery for five days.
“As a whole, Jefferson Health was so good to me, especially during such a transition in my life,” said Rebyak. “They were incredibly thorough, thoughtful, and considerate the entire time I was there.”
At first, recovery was trying for Rebyak. She was discharged on oxygen, not knowing if she’d ever be able to live without it, and she was in a considerable amount of pain. Her sister, Lisa, helped care for her for six weeks, as she built up the strength to live on her own again.
“I knew that I needed to persevere if I wanted to feel better,” said Rebyak. “You have to start with ‘baby steps,’ such as walking to the bathroom, and slowly progress to taking walks around the neighborhood.”
By June 4, Rebyak was healthy enough to go back to her physically demanding job as a waitress. She’s experienced no problems since.
“My breathing has improved! I feel better, and I have a better attitude, too,” said Rebyak. “It was a hard year, but I made it through with the help of my friends, family, and Dr. Steinberg.”
“My advice for others – be your own advocate!” said Rebyak. “If you are uncomfortable where you are, search for that second opinion. You also need to ask questions. It helps to write them down before going to your appointment, and bringing someone along with you who can take notes.”
Rebyak also expressed how much online forums helped her, even though they could sometimes act as a “double-edged sword.”
“Testimonials can be frightening, but it’s important to remember that every cancer case is different. Every person is different,” said Rebyak. “You can’t predict what will happen to you, but you can find peace of mind when you have a great team by your side.”