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Lehigh Valley Hospital-Schuylkill Cancer Center Sees First Infusion Patient—and She’s a Nurse

Cathy Covach-Hale was the first infusion center patient at LVHN Cancer Center–Schuylkill

Cathy Covach-Hale success story

As her son Luke prepared to blow out the candles in celebration of his ninth birthday, Cathy Covach-Hale worried about a dull pain in her lower right side. A trip to Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH) Schuylkill–East Norwegian Street Emergency Department, where she happens to work as a nurse, would indicate something on her uterus. “It turned out to be stage 3 endometrial cancer, and I was very much concerned,” says the 56-year-old Schuylkill Haven resident. “Luke (now 10) and his 12-year-old brother, Noah, already had lost their father. What would happen to them? What was I going to do?”

What Covach-Hale would do is beat cancer and make history at the same hospital where she has worked for 34 years.

Targeting endometrial cancer

Covach-Hale had to travel to Reading for her surgery in May 2018 and to Hazleton for consultations with Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute hematologist oncologist Michael Evans, MD, with LVPG Hematology Oncology–Airport Beltway. But there would be no need to travel for radiation and chemotherapy treatments with the opening of the brand-new LVHN Cancer Center–Schuylkill, where Evans became medical director. When the cancer center opened in August 2018, Covach-Hale would be the first patient treated at its infusion center, where she received carboplatinpaclitaxel combination chemotherapy. She’s been cancer-free since January.

Care close to home

“With the opening of the cancer center, Cathy just needed to come upstairs at LVH–Schuylkill for treatment,” Evans says. “Endometrial cancer typically is not a very aggressive cancer, and Cathy has responded to her infusion extremely well. It’s not likely to recur.”

Throughout her treatment, Covach-Hale worked closely with physician assistant Abby Zimmerman, PA-C, who has witnessed how well received the infusion center has been in Schuylkill County.

“Cathy helped us in developing the efficiency of our processes early on,” Zimmerman says. “We’ve been very busy from the start. It’s heartwarming to help people touched by cancer right here in their own community.” Covach-Hale is very grateful for that help.

“I can’t say enough for how supportive Abby and everyone has been,” Covach-Hale says. “When you go through some- thing like this, you really appreciate the goodness of people like Abby. ”


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