For Linda Mason, a trip to Florida was more than a vacation, it was a place of sanctuary during a grueling battle with colon cancer. Living in Louisiana at the time, Linda was receiving weekly chemotherapy treatments and it was the support from her husband, Alan, that got her through. Whenever Linda needed a break, a trip to Florida was her escape.
Five years post-treatment and cancer-free, Linda and Alan decided to move to Florida in early 2002. The couple sold their house and moved to Clermont, Florida, excited about the lakes, hills and nature the area provided.
“We started a new life,” says Alan.
Now settled in Florida, in November of 2002, Alan went to a regular well-check with his Family Medicine Specialist at Orlando Health – Health Central Hospital. His new physician picked up on an irregular heartbeat and referred Alan to see a heart specialist.
At Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC), a stress test revealed Alan had a large blockage to his heart, one that often leads to what is known as the ‘widowmaker’. This blockage stops the blood supply to the larger, front part of the heart, causing a fatal heart attack.
Alan was immediately scheduled for open heart surgery the following morning, less than a week from his original appointment. “All of these doctors were right there for us,” Linda recalls. “I just can’t thank everybody at Orlando Health ORMC enough, they were just so wonderful.” Now equipped with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), Alan went back to living an active life.
Almost 20 years later, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a standard blood test screening led to a prostate cancer diagnosis for Alan. Wanting to be there for her husband in the same way he was there for her, Linda went to every treatment, even if it meant waiting in the car due to COVID-19 protocols. At Orlando Health Cancer Institute, Alan began his radiation treatment but never lost his vibrant spirit, often exiting treatment dancing and singing one of his favorite tunes, “Proud Mary.” Alan is now cancer-free and the couple is back to enjoying all of the activities their city has to offer.
“At Orlando Health, the doctors remember us and they treat us like we’re family. I can’t tell you how much that means to us. I really believe they want us to be healthy. They want us to get well and they want to do the right thing by us,” says Linda.
Along with the medical team, Alan and Linda thank their three kids, their spouses and seven grandkids whose unwavering support helped them get through each medical journey.
To learn more about how you can support cardiac care in our community, please visit Give.OrlandoHealth.com/HeartAndVascular.