Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Emma Love and VA Care
“This entire process was a challenge for me,” said Emma Love with tears in her eyes. “A mental and spiritual challenge, it was. I have always been a praying woman. Nothing is too big that my God and I can’t handle, but I definitely had a battle going on inside.”
Love, an AOD Health Administrator at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center and United States Navy Veteran, said being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last August was the ultimate shock. She went from being treated for severe heartburn one day, to lying on a CAT scan machine with unbearable back pain the next.
Pancreatic cancer is currently the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States and is anticipated to become the second by 2020. It is one of the nation’s deadliest cancers with a five-year relative survival rate of just six percent.
Fortunately for Love, the surgery she underwent in November at the Charleston VAMC was a success and she is in remission from the cancer. She said care she received from the staff at the Charleston VA was more than good. It was fantastic.
“The people caring for me were awesome and I thought at first it was because everyone knew me as an employee, but when I was on the patient floor a very helpful nurse asked why so many people around the facility seemed to know who I was,” said Love. “Then and there I knew that it wasn’t just special treatment. It was special care. It was amazing. I received better care than I would have gotten in the private sector.”
With women Veterans being the fastest growing demographic at the VA, this brings about the increased need for general services for women as well as specialty care. Love started receiving her healthcare from the VA in the early 90s and said she has seen a complete restructuring of how women’s care is handled at the VA overall.
“Care at the VA has broadened for females,” said Love. “We have so many more services available to us. The biggest thing that bothered me when I first started coming to the VA, as a young woman, was sitting in the waiting room surrounded by older male Veterans. I was a little uncomfortable in the beginning, but I also knew I was receiving top-notch professional health care.”
“If a woman Veteran doesn’t know what her options are at the VA, I recommended they talk to their primary care provider and find out what is out there,” said Love. “If they come to the VA for their care, everything is kept private and the care is exceptional.”