Beating the Odds

Surviving three bouts of ovarian cancer is almost unheard of, but that's what this West Orange grandmother did.




OVARIAN CANCER IS A DANGEROUS disease. Surviving one battle with this aggressive cancer is hard enough, and fighting through one recurrence is even more challenging. But if the cancer pays a third visit, the chances of survival are exceedingly slim. That’s what makes Linda Shoobe’s story truly remarkable. 


Shoobe, 77, is a widowed mother of two and grandmother of three, who lives in West Orange. In 2008, a routine gynecologic exam discovered suspicious growths on her ovaries that turned out to be Stage 3 cancer. She had no symptoms before the exam, which is not unusual for this type of cancer. She was referred to Thad R. Denehy, M.D., a surgeon specializing in gynecologic oncology at Saint Barnabas Medical Center. He removed both of her ovaries, her uterus, her cervix and a portion of the right side of her bowels, where the cancer had spread, and there was no remaining cancer. “She had a huge surgery, and she did well,” says Dr. Denehy. That was followed by chemotherapy, delivered under the care of Jennifer A. Wagmiller, M.D., a hematology and medical oncology specialist at Saint Barnabas Medical Center.


The cancer reappeared on the left side of the pelvis about two and a half years later. “That is pretty routine,” Dr. Wagmiller says. “Unfortunately, most Stage 3 cancers will recur. It’s just the nature of cancer.” 

Dr. Denehy adds that it is rare for a patient to survive after a recurrence of ovarian cancer. In January 2011, he removed all of the new malignant tissue from the left side of Shoobe’s pelvis and colon, leaving her cancer-free. Then she underwent another round of chemotherapy.

Sadly, that still wasn’t enough to rid her of the disease, and in 2012 she faced the daunting prospect of going through the battle again. The odds were tough, and her doctors did not sugarcoat them. “They didn’t say, ‘Don’t worry, everything will be fine,’ because that was not the outlook,” Shoobe recalls. 

“But they were hopeful, and I had hope that I was going to get better.” She understood that at the very least there was a risk of complications.

In August 2012, she was treated with radiation on the left side of her pelvis. Three months later, serious complications developed which required additional surgeries and different treatments.

Shoobe has now been cancer-free for six years. The rarity of that happening cannot be overstated. “It is very unlikely you get two recurrences and get cured of this disease,” Dr. Denehy says. “She had radical surgery by me twice, lots of chemo, then radiation, then all the complications you can have from all this, and she was able to get through it all, which is wonderful.”


“She really went through a lot to get to these remissions,” Dr. Wagmiller says. “At this point, it has stuck—thank goodness.”

Her case is rare, they both say. “When her cancer recurred a second time, she fell into a small group of women who  are usually incurable. But by following this very aggressive treatment plan, we hoped we could treat her,” Dr. Wagmiller says. “She went through a tough, tough treatment, three different surgeons, a radiation oncologist, me and a long recovery. Thank God it was worth it. She has no evidence of cancer, which is miraculous. We all hedge around saying anybody is cured, but six years in remission is so rare, she is cured as much as anybody can be cured.”

Only a facility like Saint Barnabas  Medical Center has the expertise to  pull off such a miracle, Dr. Denehy  says. “We have the people who can  take care of these complex issues. Her  case required challenging and intense  treatments, and she beat the cancer, which is essentially unheard of. She’s  out six years now, that’s a long time. It’s  something to celebrate.”

Shoobe is celebrating by playing a lot,  both with her grandchildren and with  her card-playing partners in passionate  bridge games. “I have wonderful friends  who are like my family,” she says. “I have  three wonderful grandchildren. Two  are in the area—they both play hockey,  so they are very busy. The other is in  upstate New York. I don’t see her often but we text every day.”

Shoobe still takes oral medication  daily and continues to see Dr. Denehy and Dr. Wagmiller once a year. “The doctors are wonderful,” she says. “They saved my life—what else can I say?” It has been 10 years since her initial diagnosis, and she hopes that 10 years is a kind of marker. “With ovarian cancer you never say you are cured,” she says, “but for right now, and hopefully for however many years I have left, things will be as they are now, and I am extremely grateful.”

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CANCER CARE AT SAINT BARNABAS MEDICAL CENTER, CALL 973.322.2929, OR VISIT RWJBH.ORG/SBMCCANCER. TO SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH A FRIEND OR TO RECOMMEND IT ON YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE, VISIT MSXHEALTHANDLIFE.COM.

Edit Module

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Find Events

March 2019

Speakeasy Art Gallery will be celebrating their 10 year milestone with the exhibit, "These Walls Can Talk" opening Friday, February 1st. The exhibit will showcase one piece of art from...

Cost: free

Where:
Speakeasy Art Gallery
816 Main Street
Boonton, NJ  07005
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Narrated by Gene Wilder, “EXPO – Magic of the White City” brings the Chicago World’s Fair to life. Experience the world of 1893 through a cinematic visit to Chicago’s...

Cost: 0

Where:
Montclair Public Library
50 S Fullerton Ave
Montclair, NJ  07042
View map »


Website »

More information

Narrated by Gene Wilder, “EXPO – Magic of the White City” brings the Chicago World’s Fair to life. Experience the world of 1893 through a cinematic visit to Chicago’s...

Cost: 0

Where:
Montclair Public Library
50 S Fullerton Ave
Montclair, NJ  07042
View map »


Website »

More information

Narrated by Gene Wilder, “EXPO – Magic of the White City” brings the Chicago World’s Fair to life. Experience the world of 1893 through a cinematic visit to Chicago’s...

Cost: 0

Where:
Montclair Public Library
50 S Fullerton Ave
Montclair, NJ  07042
View map »


Website »

More information

Speakeasy Art Gallery will be celebrating their 10 year milestone with the exhibit, "These Walls Can Talk" opening Friday, February 1st. The exhibit will showcase one piece of art from...

Cost: free

Where:
Speakeasy Art Gallery
816 Main Street
Boonton, NJ  07005
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join us as we share tips and tools on how to stay safe during your meal planning. What nutrients are needed as we age and how to achieve nutritious meals despite living alone or at a limited...

Cost: 0

Where:
, NJ


Website »

More information

Speakeasy Art Gallery will be celebrating their 10 year milestone with the exhibit, "These Walls Can Talk" opening Friday, February 1st. The exhibit will showcase one piece of art from...

Cost: free

Where:
Speakeasy Art Gallery
816 Main Street
Boonton, NJ  07005
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Speakeasy Art Gallery will be celebrating their 10 year milestone with the exhibit, "These Walls Can Talk" opening Friday, February 1st. The exhibit will showcase one piece of art from...

Cost: free

Where:
Speakeasy Art Gallery
816 Main Street
Boonton, NJ  07005
View map »

More information

Learn from Summit Medical Group’s Sleep Disorder Center experts about the basics of  good sleep and the physical impact of poor sleep. They will also discuss tips for improving...

Cost: 0

Where:
Montclair Public Library
50 S Fullerton Ave
Montclair, NJ  07042
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Speakeasy Art Gallery will be celebrating their 10 year milestone with the exhibit, "These Walls Can Talk" opening Friday, February 1st. The exhibit will showcase one piece of art from...

Cost: free

Where:
Speakeasy Art Gallery
816 Main Street
Boonton, NJ  07005
View map »

More information

This event will be held at our community partner’s location – St. Luke’s Church, 73 South Fullerton Ave, Montclair. Non-perishable food items will be accepted for...

Cost: 0

Where:
Montclair Public Library
50 S Fullerton Ave
Montclair, NJ  07042
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Speakeasy Art Gallery will be celebrating their 10 year milestone with the exhibit, "These Walls Can Talk" opening Friday, February 1st. The exhibit will showcase one piece of art from...

Cost: free

Where:
Speakeasy Art Gallery
816 Main Street
Boonton, NJ  07005
View map »

More information

Susan G. Komen North Jersey’s signature Pink Tie Party is a not-to-be-missed annual event that is the perfect mix of fun and philanthropy. The event raises funds to fight breast...

Cost: $400

Where:
The Grove
691 Pompton Avenue
Cedar Grove, NJ  07009
View map »


Telephone: 908-277-2904
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Green Brook Country Club Summer Camp Open House Saturday March 23rd 9:00am-11:00am Tuesday April 9th 4:00pm-6:00pm Saturday May 11th  9:00am-11:00am Light snacks and beverages...

Cost: Free

Where:
Green Brook Country Club
100 Greenbrook Road
North Caldwell, NJ  07006
View map »


Sponsor: Green Brook Country Club
Telephone: (973) 228-1800
Contact Name: Nicole Moore
Website »

More information

Miller made her Broadway debut in 2011’s Sister Act, for which she earned a Tony nomination, and later won for her role as the Leading Player in Pippin. She made her feature film debut in The...

Cost: $45-$65

Where:
Enlow Recital Hall
215 North Avenue
Hillside, NJ  07205
View map »


Sponsor: Kean Stage
Telephone: 908-737-4081
Contact Name: Steve Cochran
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit Module