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The Power of a Positive Attitude

April 29, 2022

When it comes to fighting cancer, is there more you can do for yourself than complete your course of treatment? Bob Windsor thinks maybe there is.

Windsor believes in the power of a positive attitude. He puts that belief into action every day and each time he visits GBMC's Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute for care. He cheerfully greets those he meets and makes the effort to get to know them. “I’m interested,” he said. “I joke around a lot and I ask people about themselves.” After 16 years of treatment – and conversations – he has a genuine fondness for the staff at GBMC that appears to be mutual. They have been through a lot of ups and downs together.

Surviving Stage 4 colon cancer has required seven surgeries, multiple radiation treatments and many infusions. “There were times where things got rough and I probably shouldn’t have had a good attitude,” Windsor recalled. Beyond his cancer, Windsor has also had to deal with grief. He was in the middle of a round of chemotherapy years ago when his wife died, having been ill with myasthenia gravis.

Through it all, Windsor has felt the support of the oncologists, nurses and just about everyone involved in his care. After all, he has been building those relationships, asking about them, their families and interests. They’ve gotten to know him, as well.

He considers his medical oncologist, Dr. Robert Donegan, Chief of GBMC’s Division of Medical Oncology, to be something like a brother. Dr. Donegan has seen him through a lot. Each time they meet, he says, the two spend nearly as much time catching up and sharing stories as they do discussing his condition.

A few years ago, perhaps thanks to his positive spirit, lightning struck a second time and Windsor fell in love again. He married Nancy, who accompanies him to every one of his appointments. She is a dedicated partner in his care but he jokes at another motive: "She's in love with Dr. Donegan."

In 16 years, Windsor has had to make a lot of decisions about the best course of treatment. Each step along the way, he has been guided by one principle: trust your doctor. And the doctors he trusts, including Dr. Donegan and Drs. Francis Rotolo and Laurence Ross, his surgeons, are at GBMC. “I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else,” he said. GBMC earned his trust, and he is confident relying on the staff there to give him the care they would want for their loved ones has worked in his favor.

“The nurses, the aides, everyone bends over backward for you,” he said. “They’re fantastic!”

Windsor knows he can continue to rely on GBMC. He is still getting periodic PET scans to keep track of a tumor. Removing it poses a greater risk than does leaving it in place. And, so far, it is safe to leave it alone. So far, his “trust your doctor” instinct has served him well, so he’ll do that in this case, as well.

While no one wants to be a cancer patient, he is positive he’s getting the best care possible. And he is glad to know that at GBMC he’s among friends.

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