Cancer patient begins treatment in Boston

·4 min read

PORT DUFFERIN/BOSTON – Dale Pye’s first experience flying was from Halifax to Boston on Feb. 9 to deliver him to the city for life saving cancer treatments. In May 2020 Pye was diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and if the 59-year-old didn’t make the trip to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston doctors told him he only had two-three months to live.

The first visit at the hospital for Pye consisted of consultation and blood work, EKG and X-ray. The Friday of their arrival Pye’s cells were collected. “This is where they get sent to California to become super cancer fighting cells…” said Shelly, Pye’s daughter, “…or as Dad’s nurse says ‘the cells go to boot camp’.” The wait becomes approximately 17 days for them to come back. Shelly explains, “Before the cells get transfused back in - Dad will receive three days of chemotherapy.”

Predictably the flight to Toronto for Pye and his daughter Shelly - who has accompanied him on this journey - was a full flight, while Toronto to Boston had only eight guests aboard. Shelly said her father took the window seat and enjoyed the flight. “Dad loved flying and kept looking out the window. He couldn’t understand what the fuss was about flying. We circled the runway in Boston for 45 minutes due to a snow storm.”

Surprisingly the two were not given a COVID-19 test upon arrival and were not required to isolate. “When we arrived we were so exhausted - tired and just overwhelmed,” Shelly told The Journal via email.

The father and daughter found the first day extremely difficult as they discovered how busy a city Boston is. “We got to the room - with no food - and had no understanding of where things were and how we were gonna get everywhere,” said Shelly. “The hospital is within ten minutes of the hotel. They have a shuttle driver, named Billy, who is amazing and he has even taken me to the grocery store and taken us back and forth to the hospital. The hospital is massive and our room is very cozy.”

Upon arrival to Boston Pye’s leg was painful and bothering him so doctors prescribed a steroid medication. Shelly updates, “The pain is currently gone and things are going much better now that we have made a few trips to the hospital and he doesn’t have much pain.”

The first shopping experience Shelly took on caused her stress and made her experience unusual nervousness. “As everyone knows I’m a big ‘people person’. It was just being in this new place and not being able to interact with people - COVID and all. I even cried.”

Communication from the hospital is going well and Shelly is being kept well informed. Nurses call her regularly with updates and the hospital has an online website to view her father’s test results as well as upcoming appointments. “You can even message the doctor on this online portal or let them know of any issues that may arise,” she explains.

Using technology Shelly has been able to keep herself and her father connected with loved ones back home in Nova Scotia. “Every single night I FaceTime my mom and my fiancé. Every few nights we FaceTime my sister, Melissa, and nephew, Jackson. I’ve been trying to message my aunts and uncles…and also Facebook updates.”

The two have faced a few logistical challenges but have developed a routine. Shelly describes the size of the hospital as massive and “… nothing like I’ve seen before. The hospital staff is awesome. Due to COVID I can’t go to Dad’s appointments …so they transport him to and from his appointments and I call to make sure he made it there - and also to let him know I made it back to the hotel.”

Shelly speaks praise for the assistance the international office is providing the visiting Canadians. “The International Office has been amazing. If Dad needs anything while he is here – like medication - it’s all taken care of. If he needs a drive to an appointment that falls out of the shuttle hours of operation - they arrange a pick up and drop off!”

On-going fundraising to support the Pyes on this life saving journey continues through Scotiabank in Sheet Harbour.

Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal