Survivor helps to refurbish Lancaster Cancer Center chemo room in memory of her husband.
By Sally Melcher Jarvis, Correspondent
Pat Deitz sits in her living room, a picture of her late husband hanging on the wall.
"I was supposed to die first," Deitz says.
In 2005, Deitz and her husband of 50 years, Charles D. Deitz Jr., decided to take a cruise. She had been scheduled for a mammogram appointment but postponed it because she was feeling fine.
"I had no idea anything was wrong," she says.
A mammogram would eventually yield a diagnosis of breast cancer. With the help of radiation treatments, Deitz is now cancer free and faithfully keeps up with her checkups.
"Mammograms saved my life," she says.
Her husband was not as fortunate.
In 2009, Charles was diagnosed with an aggressive asbestos-related cancer. He was referred to Lancaster Cancer Center.
Over a period of four months, Deitz sat by her husband's chair in the LCC infusion room, where he received chemotherapy. ("Very strong doses. The strongest they make," Deitz says.) The treatments were hard on him.
The Deitzes met with LCC oncologist Dr. Tracy DeGreen, who said it would be "inhumane" to continue the chemo.
"That touched me the most," Deitz says. "He said he had taken a pledge to 'do no harm.' "
Seven months after his initial diagnosis, Charles Deitz died.
During those long months, DeGreen became "almost like a son to us," Deitz says, and last fall she went to visit him to discuss the possibility of giving something back to LCC in memory of her husband.
"He would have done the same for me if I had gone first," Deitz says.
She wanted to donate funds to redecorate the infusion room, where they both had spent so much time. With patients spending up to seven or eight hours at a time receiving chemo, she wanted to make the place a little more homey: some color on the walls, a blanket warmer, more snack trays, comfortable furniture and different pictures.
LCC nurse manager Lori Gerhart and the staff set about making Deitz's vision a reality.
The infusion room now has warm sandstone-brown walls, wooden blinds and plush furniture bought from local vendors. The handsome photographs on the walls show mountains and seascapes, and there are more than enough snack trays.
"(The room) has had a much needed face-lift," DeGreen says. "The whole environment is more appealing. The patients appreciate it, too. All we hear are thank yous."
The infusion room will be dedicated with a ribbon cutting and a catered reception from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday.
DeGreen is grateful for the improvements, and especially for Deitz, whom he describes as generous and loving.
"I am blessed to be part of her life," DeGreen says.n