Justin Williams

When Justin Williams, 28, walked into his local emergency room in October of 2018, he was shocked to learn that the pain he was experiencing was not from the minor car accident he was in the day before. The physicians suspected cancer.

As part of Wellforce - the health care system made up of Tufts Medical Center (Tufts MC), Lowell General Hospital and MelroseWakefield Health - emergency room physicians at MelroseWakefield Hospital referred Justin to an oncologist, who transferred him that day to Tufts MC in Boston.

There, Dr. Paul Mathew, an oncologist specializing in genitourinary cancers, confirmed that Justin had testicular and thyroid cancer, and also had a mass on one of his kidneys. Justin’s left testicle and part of his thyroid were removed, and he had a second surgery to remove his kidney. He then underwent chemotherapy.

Dr. Mathew and the Tufts MC team were successful in treating Justin’s cancer. Following active treatment, however, Justin found himself experiencing long-term side effects of therapy. He also struggled with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Everything happened so quickly that I wasn’t able to fully process it at the time,” Justin said.

Justin was referred to Tufts MC’s Reid R. Sacco Adolescent & Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program, which provides survivorship care to individuals between the ages of 18 and 39 who have ever been diagnosed with cancer. He met with Drs. Nadine Linendoll and Susan K. Parsons, having his first in-person appointment in March of 2020.

When the COVID-19 pandemic prevented a number of in-person appointments from taking place, the AYA program quickly adapted. Through telehealth, Dr. Linendoll connected with Justin monthly to provide support, education and coordination of care, which includes oncology, nephrology, urology, endocrinology, rheumatology and primary care.

With the support of Dr. Linendoll, Dr. Mathew and his entire care team, Justin is now flourishing. He recently completed a certificate program to become a pharmacy technician, and became engaged to his girlfriend. Justin is optimistic for the future and credits Tufts MC, and its partnership with his local hospital, with saving his life and helping him through a difficult time.

“Everyone has really been a blessing,” Justin said. “I know this year has been hard, but there have been a lot of positive things to come out of it too. I’m very thankful for all of the staff at Tufts Medical Center.”

Patients like Justin are the reason behind the life-saving, collaborative care that takes place every day at Tufts MC.

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