A Brief Intermission: Lester Woody's Colon Cancer Story

Fifty-three-year-old Lester Woody prefers nature to cityscape and solitude to company. So, when his stage 2 colon cancer diagnosis forced him to spend time in the city surrounded by care teams, Lester was selective with the city in which he would receive his treatment and the company who would provide it.

Although nearly an hour from his wooded home in New Jersey, The Endo Center at Voorhees and Virtua Hospital was his home for cancer care. The small but capable team of oncology specialists led by Dr. Alan Mushnick provided the intimate experience Lester needed to feel comfortable while fighting his disease.

“Thank God for Dr. Mushnick. There isn’t a better doctor,” Lester said. “He scheduled my colonoscopy; found the tumor in June, coordinated with the surgeon to remove it in July and connected me to the chemo doctor, which I started in August and finished in January.”

Dr. Mushnick, similar to everyone who engages with Lester, recognized his patient’s desire to be self-reliant – living independently on his 158 acres. Although self-reliance is not always possible when being treated with and recovering from various cancer therapies, Dr. Mushnick was able to make Lester’s treatment a brief intermission in his independent life-style. Lester’s relatively fast course of treatment, six months in total, catered to his fierce autonomy. The skilled clinicians at Virtua seamlessly and efficiently coordinated Lester’s care to get him in and out of the hospital and city as quickly as possible.

“Set me off in the back of the woods and I’m happy,” Lester says. “I don’t like being around people and I don’t bring my problems to anyone else.”

Lester is currently in remission. His treatments have been successful and, although he is quick to dismiss most people, he can’t say enough good things about Dr. Mushnick and his care team at Virtua. However, he is happy to report he won’t have to see any of them for another year.

As far as his diagnosis affecting his perspective or attitude, there is little evidence this experience was anything but a brief flicker in his expansive life of nature-filled solitude.

“I had it and now I don’t,” Lester says of his cancer. If anyone carries a fitting surname, it’s Lester Woody who is back to roaming his woods with the only company he really cares for, himself.

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