Back to Work After Cancer

Patient Access Project Coordinator
Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 5:27pm

Laurie Page of Cheektowaga, NY, was diagnosed in the summer of 2016 with a rare carcinoid tumor in her abdomen. The prognosis wasn’t good.

“They didn’t give me long to live,” she said. “I was down to 92 pounds.”

Page was referred to Roswell Park and received treatment under the care of gastrointestinal surgical oncologist Dr. Moshim Kukar, whom she calls a “miracle worker.”

“No one would even operate on me because it was a ‘towel tumor’ that wraps around the organs,” she said. “So Dr. Kukar performed surgery and got all the tumor out. He was fantastic.”

Page was on the mend almost immediately. She walked a mile around the hospital the day after her surgery. She eventually made it back up to 120 pounds.

At just 56 years old, Page is a woman who prides herself on her independence. She was determined to return to work and get back to normal. And what helped her pick up where she left off before her harrowing ordeal with cancer were her support system, a commitment to staying healthy, determination and a positive outlook.

“My doctor said, ‘You really have to want it,’” she said. “And I wanted my life back.”

And so, she took it back. Once she was able, she returned to work three days a week as a server at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens after not working for six months. And on the days she doesn’t work, she hits the gym, because being a server requires energy, strength and stamina.

“It was phenomenal,” she said of returning to work. “It wasn’t hard getting back into a routine. The biggest challenge is trying to keep weight on, so I eat and work out in the gym several days a week to keep my strength up.”

Her employers and coworkers were beneficial in her recovery, as well, sending cards and flowers and reassuring her that her job would be waiting whenever she was ready to return to it.

“The Salvatores have been very good to me,” she said. “I’ve been an employee there for 24 years, and they were all so helpful and supportive. It’s like my home.”

Between her family, friends, and “work family” being so supportive, Page said recovering enough to go back to work was all about balance. She keeps her energy up but also takes the time to rest, so she doesn’t overdo it.

There are other things Page says helped her transition back into her regular routine and work schedule after cancer.

“Pray,” she said. “You just can’t give up hope. Ask for help if you need it—I finally realized you need some help sometimes. Have a pet—they do wonders for you.”

Staying positive and maintaining a good sense of humor also helped Page immensely in her overall recovery.