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June 5, 2013

Co-workers rally for woman with cancer

MORRISONVILLE — Last fall, Gail Reyell was celebrating the purchase of her new home.

But as she threw herself into renovations, she noticed a lump in her neck.

She underwent a series of medical tests and procedures, both locally and in Vermont, but doctors remained baffled about the cause.

“We did a needle biopsy, and it came back no cancer and not really an infection, either,” the Morrisonville woman recalled.

“But we decided to treat it as an infection anyway. We had been sanding walls and painting in the new house when I found it, so we thought it may be a sinus infection or something from all that going on.”

When antibiotics failed, Reyell underwent a surgical biopsy in Saranac Lake, where physicians removed three lymph nodes and collaborated with Fletcher Allen Health Care doctors to determine the exact diagnosis.

A month later, Reyell got the news — she had a Stage 3 cancer known as follicular lymphoma grade 3b.

“It’s a slow-growing cancer. If I didn’t have the lump, I wouldn’t have had any idea.”

AGGRESSIVE TREATMENT

After getting the life-changing news, Reyell immediately contacted the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and boarded a flight to Illinois for a second opinion.

“They confirmed what Burlington confirmed,” she said. “But it was just amazing how much I learned about my cancer, how to handle it and that I’m treatable.”

Doctors immediately began an aggressive treatment of chemotherapy. She has had two rounds now; she has a third soon.

After having the original mass removed, she said, doctors discovered others in her neck and spleen. Those lumps are being closely monitored, and future testing will determine how effective the treatment has been.

Every 21 days, Reyell makes the trek to Fletcher Allen in Burlington for more treatment, and she hopes by August, she’ll have good news.

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