Cancer clinic patient shares her experience - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Cancer clinic patient shares her experience

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Elizabethtown Hematology Oncology settled an overpayment claim June 3 with the federal government for $3.7 million. Elizabethtown Hematology Oncology settled an overpayment claim June 3 with the federal government for $3.7 million.
Amber Pike Amber Pike
Amber Pike was 14 years old when she first became a patient at EHO. Amber Pike was 14 years old when she first became a patient at EHO.

RINEYVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A former patient of an Elizabethtown cancer clinic is coming forward to share her experience. Elizabethtown Hematology Oncology settled an overpayment claim June 3 with the federal government for $3.7 million.

Amber Pike is not a medical doctor so she can't say for sure the reasons behind her lengthy chemo infusions, but she does know that when she got a second diagnosis, EHO ultimately was not the place she chose to go and she wants others to know why.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Elizabethtown clinic settles claims it over billed government for cancer care]

Just after a smiling school picture was taken, Pike started treatments at Elizabethtown Hematology Oncology for Stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma.

"I was a patient there in 92, 93, 94. I started when I was 14 years old," she said.

As a teenager, she was concerned about losing her hair. Losing time with her friends, though, was also on her mind.

"I would go into the office at noon and I would be there at their office until 7 or 8 o'clock sometimes, well after the office doors had closed and everybody had gone home for the night," she said.

For close to two years, EHO battled back Pike's cancer. In what may seem an unfair twist of fate, cancer came back into her life 16 years later, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"I went back to E-town Hematology and Oncology because I had been their patient formerly," she said.

The treatment plan she was given, she says, was 18 months of chemo and radiation. Amber sought a second and third opinion.

"Both James (Graham) Brown and Norton gave me identical treatment plans as the other," she said. "They both suggested that I needed about six months worth of chemo and about six weeks of radiation."  She ultimately chose the Norton Cancer Institute, even though it meant a longer drive from her home.

Amber has seen the claims against EHO that it lengthened chemo infusion times to collect more money from Medicare and Medicaid, among other government programs. She can't say if that has anything to do with her experience. What she does know is that she learned a valuable lesson that she wants to share with everyone.

"Everybody is responsible for their own healthcare," she said. "Doctors treat you, but you make the decisions as to where you need to go and what best fits into your treatment plan, your own particular situation."

It's important to note that EHO maintains it did nothing wrong and there was never any allegation of patient harm or injury. An attorney for the clinic said via email that he was prevented from addressing Amber's specific claims because of federal privacy laws. He added illnesses, circumstances and treatments vary and that techniques for treating cancer have advanced in the last decades and even the last few years.

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