'A Second Chance at Life'

Second opinion at RUSH helped Lynn Stewart overcome advanced heart failure, return to the activities she enjoys
Lynn Stewart smiles alongside Santa Claus

Lynn Stewart was cancer-free and full of life once again. But the very treatment that saved her life nearly killed her.

“It was all so sudden,” said her son, Bill Stewart. “To see her go — just over a span of a couple weeks — from being healthy and having a really good prognosis to being told she’s got maybe weeks to live; it was shocking.”

Lynn, 72, who had recently completed chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, began to experience unusual symptoms, including swelling in her legs that prevented her from walking, loss of appetite, and fading in and out of consciousness.

Doctors elsewhere said there was nothing left to do for Lynn. A minister was even called to perform her last rites.

Not wanting to give up hope, her family sought a second opinion at RUSH University Medical Center, which specializes in not only treating patients’ cancer but also addressing other health issues and complications that may arise among survivors.

Cardiologist Tisha Marie Suboc, MD, quickly admitted Lynn and diagnosed her with advanced heart failure. Cardiac side effects, including high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms and heart failure, can be caused or exacerbated by chemotherapy and other forms of cancer treatment. The cardiology care team launched a comprehensive treatment plan for Lynn, with all testing and appointments conveniently taking place at RUSH.

Within months, Lynn was able to transition from the hospital to assisted living and then back to her home in Southern Illinois, where she is now back to volunteering, going to the pool for water aerobics and enjoying country line dancing.

“I think that’s one reason I got better,” Lynn said. “I danced every day.”

RUSH also played a big part, Lynn said, doing an excellent job both with her immediate treatment and finding a combination of medications that are perfect for her day-to-day life. She is back to not only walking but also running up and down the stairs.

“I can do just about everything I did before I was sick,” she said. “I can’t believe I got better. I think about it every day. It’s amazing. I got a second chance at life.”

Her family is glad, too.

“It was like a miracle,” Bill said. “The team at RUSH did such an amazing job and saved my mom’s life. It was such a remarkable transformation. She went from being weeks away from death to enjoying her grandchildren and doing all the things she loves.”

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