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“I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck.”
— Ilene Drohan

The new year of 2008 was barely a week old
when my life changed forever. It all started on New
Year’s Day when I had a lump surgically removed
from my breast at HackensackUMC Mountainside. When Doctor Alli called with the biopsy results and wanted to
see me for a follow-up appointment two days later,
my story
I knew something was terribly wrong. When you first hear the words, “You have breast cancer,” it’s like getting hit by a Mack truck. My mind was racing with all the thoughts and
stories all of us have heard about breast cancer.
How debilitating will the chemo treatments be?
Will I need surgery? Will I lose my hair? Will I
be able to work to support myself? And finally,
is it too late?

I never felt like a number
Lucky for me, I chose HackensackUMC Mountainside to help save my life. After all, they were the hospital right in my community, and I thought I’d have a better chance in a smaller, patient-focused setting, rather than
one of those big, uncaring facilities where you get treated like a number. It was the best decision of my life. I had a terrific group of doctors that included Dr. Alli, Dr. DiPaolo and Dr. Barba, who all watched over me.

They treated me like family when I really needed one
From the very first day of my diagnosis, through every chemo treatment and every appointment, the staff at HackensackUMC Mountainside treated me with the utmost compassion and respect. From the receptionist at the front desk who offered to drive me home after a treatment, to the nurses, technicians and doctors who treated me, we were all on a first-name basis. Sure, some of the treatments were tough to get through, and I did wind up losing my hair, but my team at HackensackUMC Mountainside never let me lose my hope. I even threw a party for the staff after my last chemo treatment! They truly became my family, and I can’t imagine how I could have gotten through it all without them.

Like angels all around me
Today, just two years later, I am cancer-free and live every day to the fullest. If you ask me, I think HackensackUMC Mountainside should change its name to Angel Hospital, because everyone there has certainly earned their wings in my eyes.