As a 26- year cancer survivor of Synovial Sarcoma, diagnosed at the age of 8 years, I possess quite an extensive medical history for a young adult. Since the age of 8, I had various orthopedic issues that were related to my cancer surgery and treatment. However; beginning in 2012, doctors had a very difficult time identifying that my hip was the culprit of the pain where my hip finally needed to be replaced because of the post-radiation damage that I incurred over the years. Included in this damage not only was the damage to the hip but also a condition known as lymphedema, which is a chronic swelling condition due to an obstruction or damaged/removed lymph nodes that can be caused by radiation. Initially, I had 2 hip arthroscopies completed with the hope of being able to save my hip even longer, although it lasted a lot longer than the estimated time table we were given back in 1990. Unfortunately, those remedies did not work and I kept having my labral tears. I was at a point where nobody could truly identify that my hip absolutely needed to be replaced. After countless visits to a plethora of orthopedic surgeons between New Jersey and Pennsylvania – 9 to be exact I eventually saw Dr. Alvin Ong from the Rothman Institute. He identified the hip needed to be replaced. Dr. Ong referred me to John Abraham at Rothman Institute in Center City due to his specialty in Orthopedic Oncology since the affected hip received massive amounts of radiation from the treatment I had to destroy the sarcoma I had as a child.
From the moment I met Dr. Abraham at the Rothman Institute, I knew he was the right man for the job. His compassion for the condition I was dealing with coupled with his willingness to listen and understand what I was going through sets him apart from many doctors. Dr. Abraham never rushed me out of his office when he was busy. He always ensured that I understood everything and that all my questions were answered. If I had further questions, I was and still am always able to call his Physician Assistants; initially Kristin, then Katherine and now Melissa, who would pass the information along to him and I would receive a response in a timely manner.
The surgical procedure for my hip replacement was far from simple because of my surgical reconstruction along with having Lymphedema. Unfortunately, my chronic lymphedema posed more difficulties for me than the actual hip replacement. These difficulties did affect the actual replacement where we did have to modify the internal liner of the hip 3-months post-surgery due to a dislocation which was NOT associated with any complexities of the hardware rather it was associated with the lymphedema condition. while dealing with this difficult problem, Dr. Abraham always provided me with the utmost care a patient deserves and answered all my questions of what was going on and what we were going to do to remedy the situation.
I am currently 3 ½ years post hip replacement and my hip is doing still doing wonderful despite some simple things which we are working with in terms of muscle strength etc. which results from having the lymphedema on that side. Having this surgical procedure done with Dr. Abraham was one of 2 best choices I’ve ever made in my medical journey. The other best choice I made was with the assistance of Dr. Abraham about a surgical procedure that is currently available for lymphedema through Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. Without Dr. Abraham, I would not be where I am today physically.
Over the past 3 ½ years I have come full circle in what I can functionally due. All of this is a result of the expertise from Dr. John Abraham. I honestly would not be where I am today without his professionalism, caring and amazing bed-side manner. Dr. Abraham knew I would be able to do things I couldn’t do before once we got these medical issues under control and boy was he right. I have probably done so much more than he ever expected to the point I get told “BE CAREFUL WITH THAT HIP” after I show him pictures of things I have could do since the hip replacement and maintaining control of my lymphedema. Some of these things include but are not limited to Stand-Up Paddle Boarding in North Carolina, High Ropes Course on a cruise ship, playing in a soccer tournament, participating in a 5K to support pediatric cancer research.
I’m sure Dr. Abraham never imagined the roller coaster ride of fun he was getting himself into when I became his patient. One of my favorite memories over the past 3.5 years of working with Dr. Abraham is one that I’ll never forget to his day. It was the very first interaction I had with him when he met me at Jefferson Hospital after I was transferred from Alvin Ong at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center. “Catherine, I think there is something wrong with your medical record – are you sure you had Synovial Sarcoma 23 years ago? I think this is supposed to say 23 months not 23 years.” From that moment on, I have kept him on his toes. I never follow the typical protocols for anything. I have been told “I beat to my own drum” by several doctors and my orthopedic issues are no different. This is a very accurate statement to the point where my body has had him stumped at times with different conundrums. However, we have worked together to figure out the best course of action to get through these challenges which always end up working out in the grand scheme of things. This is something that not every physician does that sets Dr. Abraham apart from them all.
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