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Anniversaries and Recoveries

Bill and Adele Lucas, and their extended Abington family prove a perfect match against cancer.

In September of 1954, young Bill Lucas stopped to talk to Adele Jones, who was sitting on the front porch of her aunt’s house in Philadelphia. Fifty-six years later, they’re still sharing their hopes and dreams, with a little help from their friends at Abington Memorial Hospital.

Bill and Adele Lucas

In fact, Bill, 73, and Adele, 71 just celebrated their fifty-second wedding anniversary in June. Along the way, Bill worked 35 years with the postal service before retiring, and Adele spent 30 years in the Philadelphia school system. The East Mount Airy couple raised two sons and now have three grandchildren. But in 1994, their world stopped cold. Adele was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Bill remembers, "I was devastated when ‘Del’ was diagnosed. But our Abington primary doctor, who is now retired, advised Del to have her treatment at Abington. That’s when we began what turned out to be a lifetime friendship with Dr. Herbert."

Scott Herbert, MD, is chief of Radiation Oncology at The Rosenfeld Cancer Center at Abington Memorial Hospital. The Center offers a multidisciplinary approach to treating all types of cancer, combining the expertise of specialists in pathology, radiology, surgery, radiation oncology and medical oncology. It is one of the busiest centers in the area, and treats more breast cancer than any other kind of malignancy.

When it was determined that radiation was the best course of treatment for Adele, Dr. Herbert carefully directed her therapy.

Dr. Herbert explains, "Adele had an earlystage breast cancer, and our goal was to eradicate the small tumor while preserving her breast. Like most women with early breast cancer, she was an excellent candidate for breast preservation with the same favorable long-term results compared to women who have their breast removed. With her positive attitude, great smile, and support of her loving family, she sailed through treatments without any problems."

During Adele’s many therapy sessions, Bill witnessed the gentle care and precision with which the radiation oncologist carried out his work. He never imagined he’d be a patient of Dr. Herbert’s, too.

In the meantime, the couple became regulars at Abington’s Cancer Support Group meetings. "At first I couldn’t talk Adele into it, and now I can’t get her to leave," Bill says.

It was good preparation, for Bill was diagnosed in 2002 with prostate cancer. "I won’t say it was easy – with Del cancer-free and me facing the same situation. But when I knew I needed radiation, I asked Dr. Herbert to oversee my therapy, too. You won’t find a kinder doctor, and my experience with him was just like Del’s. He always told us what to expect and was available to answer any questions we had."

Bill underwent multiple radiation therapy sessions while the couple continued to be both participants and cheerleaders for the newer members of the Cancer Support Group. "It helped me so much to learn that you can continue living your life with cancer. With proper treatment, it’s not a death sentence," Bill adds.

In 2005, Adele developed a second breast cancer in the same breast and underwent mastectomy and chemotherapy at Abington Memorial Hospital. But aided by their doctors, including Melanie Nordlinger, MD and friends at Abington, the Lucases stayed strong.

Today, Philadelphia’s "power couple" remains cancer-free and continues to share their experiences with the Cancer Support Group. "Although he is much younger than us, our current primary care doctor, Daniel Silverstein, MD, is like a dad who is vigilant about seeing that we get all the necessary checkups to keep us healthy. These days, the hardest part is saying goodbye to all the doctors," Bill chuckles. "We’ve lost more Abington Hospital doctors to retirement!"

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