Story by: David Steen Martin on May 26, 2020
Like many cancer patients, Misty Aubrey’s calendar is filled with appointments. She meets regularly with her oncologist, behavioral oncologist and neurologist.
To be safer during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she stopped meeting her doctors face to face whenever possible and started visiting with them by video.
“I think this has been one of the best inventions for medical science,” Misty said. “I think this is super easy. It doesn’t put any pressure on patients to get up, get dressed, because some days you just don’t want to. You just want to lie back in your chair.”
Misty said communication with oncologist Michael F. Driscoll, M.D., and other specialists at Norton Cancer Institute has been just as effective as in-person visits.
“I think it’s just as personal because he’s in his office and he’s talking directly to you. He isn’t distracted. He’s focused on what you’ve got going on,” she said.
In October 2017, Misty was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroendocrine carcinoma, a hormone-fueled cancer that began in her pancreas and has spread to her lymph nodes and other organs.
Before she started using Norton Telehealth, Misty would travel to a Norton Cancer Institute location on the Norton Audubon Hospital campus every three months for new scans. She’d return three days later to get the results of the scans in person. She’d also meet with her behavioral oncologist every month.
You can get the same quality care you need from your Norton Healthcare provider without having to leave home. Telehealth is billable through your insurance.
When Dr. Driscoll proposed switching to virtual visits because of COVID-19, Misty was intrigued.
“I was like, ‘Does this mean in my pajamas with coffee?’” And he was, ‘Yeah,’ and I was like, ‘I’m in,’” Misty said.
Dr. Driscoll’s office called ahead of the first meeting to make sure she could log in successfully to connect online.
Misty, who has three children and two grandchildren, says telehealth makes her life much easier.
“Through telehealth we go over CT [computed tomography] scan results, how I’m feeling after procedures, how my medications are working — because as a cancer patient you generally have issues getting the nutrition you need and the rest you need,” Misty said. “They help you come up with a plan and how to work through it.”
If the scans showed something serious, Misty noted, she and Dr. Driscoll would meet in person.
Misty said she keeps in touch with her providers using MyNortonChart.
“They email me back within the same day, or I get a phone call, or their assistant emails me or calls me,” Misty said.
Misty still needs to get iron infusions and her monthly shot of lanreotide to lower the body’s hormone production.
“Everything else, med changes, prescription refills, mental health checks, all that kind of stuff we can do virtually,” Misty said. “It’s been a godsend. I would encourage people to give this a try.”
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