You Inspire The Best in Us.

With the many advances in cancer treatment, today’s cancer patients have more and more reasons for hope. Portraits of Hope are the incredible stories of our patients and their journeys of hope and survival. Click on a thumbnail and scroll down to view each story.

  • Betty Board
    Our orthopedic surgeon gave her sure footing to get back to life
  • Edwin Branch
    Back in Full Swing
  • Lorenzo McFadden
    Every Second Counts
  • David “Shawn” Graham
    Enjoying Life Again
  • Wanda Blue
    A Return to Active Living
  • Cathy Oakley
    Thumbs Up for a Healthy Lifestyle
  • Will Williams
    In Excellent Hands
  • Betty Board

    Betty Board looks forward to her daily strolls through the neighborhood. After a serious ankle injury, she experienced severe pain and swelling that made it difficult to simply walk. Betty met with McLeod orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jason O’Dell, who determined that her entire ankle joint had deteriorated. To give Betty the best chance to maintain movement of the joint, eliminate pain, and preserve surrounding joints, Dr. O’Dell recommended a total ankle replacement. “I have never regretted going through with the surgery, and I am so glad that Dr. O’Dell was able to replace my ankle,” said Betty. Dr. O’Dell’s expertise and skill enabled Betty to get the total ankle replacement she needed and she’s back to walking with her loved ones.

  • Edwin Branch

    By Julia Derrick

    In January 2014, Edwin experienced a strange tingling in his left arm and sought medical treatment.

    Edwin started with physical therapy, but the sensation grew worse the more he exercised his upper body. Finally, the tingling subsided, only to be replaced by pain between his shoulder blades that radiated down into his back at times. He eventually could not play golf since the pain limited him to chipping and putting. Edwin lived with the pain for months, but after speaking with Dr. David Woodbury at a local American Legion meeting in Manning, he decided to schedule an appointment. He had been a patient of Dr. Woodbury’s with a different orthopedic condition a few years earlier and knew that he would receive excellent care.

    A Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon with McLeod Orthopaedics, Dr. Woodbury cares for patients in the Florence and Sumter offices. He also has additional qualifications in Sports Medicine. Dr. Woodbury ordered an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and discovered Edwin had a torn rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is comprised of four muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder. A tear can not only cause pain, but mobility issues.

    Dr. Woodbury recommended arthroscopic shoulder surgery to Edwin. “Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that involves a tiny camera called an arthroscope. The arthroscope is inserted through a small incision in the skin and is connected to a video monitor in the operating room allowing us to examine the tissues inside and around the shoulder joint. The amount of stiffness a patient experiences and the amount of muscle pulled away is significantly less with arthroscopic surgery.”

    Edwin understood that the condition would not heal by itself over time. Since his shoulder affected his quality of life, Edwin decided to follow Dr. Woodbury’s recommendation to undergo surgery. “I wanted to delay the surgery even more, but I missed playing golf,” said Edwin.

    He underwent surgery in February 2015. Once in surgery, Dr. Woodbury found bone spurs on Edwin’s shoulder blade and also torn labral cartilage that had to be repaired in addition to the rotator cuff tear. Post-surgery, Edwin had very little pain and healed fairly quickly. He completed physical therapy twice a week for six weeks and performed stretch band exercises in a home exercise program.

    Dr. Woodbury monitored Edwin’s range of motion and his strength during his post-operative appointments. At his last follow-up appointment two months after surgery, Dr. Woodbury informed Edwin that he could begin playing golf again as both his strength and range of motion were restored.

    In early June, Edwin reported that he was able to fully swing the golf club. “I worked hard to get back into the swing of things after not being able to play for a long time, and it was all worth it,” he added.

    For appointments with Dr. Woodbury, please call McLeod Orthopaedics in Sumter at (803) 433-5633 or (843) 777-7900 in Florence.

  • Lorenzo McFadden

    By Julia Derrick

    On October 16, 2015, the Georgetown High School football team hosted Lake City High School during what seemed to be a typical Friday night under the lights. An intense contest of athleticism, Lake City beat Georgetown by one point to win the game with a final score of 34 to 33.

    Immediately after the game, as coaches, athletic trainers and athletes were preparing to leave, Lorenzo McFadden, the Lake City High School Defensive Line Coach, began feeling dizzy and collapsed.

    McLeod Sports Medicine Certified Athletic Trainer Heide Burgin, along with several healthcare professionals, rushed to Lorenzo’s aid. They quickly determined that he was in sudden cardiac arrest.

    The team began CPR, and Heide prepared the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) that all McLeod Athletic Trainers carry with them at sporting events.

    AEDs are critical lifesaving tools that can assist in the event of sudden cardiac arrest by administering a shock to an individual’s heart to reestablish a normal rhythm. Users of the AED must act quickly. Each minute the heart is not pumping blood the individual’s survival rate decreases by ten percent. Attaching an AED within three minutes of cardiac arrest increases the individual’s survival rate to nearly 70 percent. Although AEDs have become more user-friendly for the public, CPR must be performed after an AED shock to keep blood flowing to the heart.

    For Lorenzo, the combined efforts of CPR and application of the AED saved his life. “It was a blessing to be surrounded by people who knew what to do. Although an ambulance was there that night, they were almost out of the parking lot. By the time they made it back through the crowds to get to me, it could have been too late.”

    “Having access to an AED was a matter of life and death for Coach McFadden. I am grateful I was close by with one when he collapsed,” said Heide. “While you hope you never have to use it, you are certainly glad that you have it.”

    “The need for Athletic Trainers in high schools and on the sidelines is crucial,” explains Adam Ploeg, McLeod Sports Medicine Athletic Training Supervisor. “Athletic Trainers are highly skilled and trained healthcare professionals who are able to prevent injuries from occurring, assess and treat injuries when they do occur, and also perform rehabilitation to assist in recovery.”

    Certified Athletic Trainers are state licensed and board certified. They are required to keep up-to-date lifesaving certifications such as CPR, and they are trained to handle all types of injuries and emergencies. While some injuries can be treated with ice, tape, or other modalities, there are times, like in Lorenzo’s case, when an Athletic Trainer must apply an AED.

    McLeod Certified Athletic Trainers provide medical care to 23 facilities in Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Horry, Marion, and Marlboro Counties. Clients include 18 high schools, Francis Marion University, Florence Darlington Technical College, the Florence Red Wolves, and McLeod Health and Fitness Centers. The trainers also serve as a source of information in the region by providing resources and education to athletes, parents, coaches, administrators and community members.

  • David “Shawn” Graham

    By Jennifer Beverly

    Throughout his life, David “Shawn” Graham, always noticed that his left hip would “pop” or “snap” during routine activities such as walking, running, biking or even getting up from a chair. When he reached his late 40’s, the pain became so unbearable, that Shawn decided it was time to seek help.

    “It got to the point where I was unable to do the activities that I loved like fishing, riding four-wheelers, boating or hiking,” said Shawn. “I could not bend down to pick anything up or get onto the floor to play with my children and grandson.”

    When it came time to choose a physician for his hip pain, Shawn immediately sought the counsel of McLeod Orthopaedics Seacoast. The physicians with McLeod Orthopaedics Seacoast offer an extensive range of orthopedic care, including general orthopedics, joint reconstruction, sports medicine, and hand and upper extremity surgery.

    Shawn was familiar with the team at McLeod Orthopaedics Seacoast because Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. David Lukowski had performed carpal tunnel surgery on his right hand in 2015.

    “Dr. Lukowski specializes in hand and upper extremity surgery,” said Shawn. “Since the carpal tunnel surgery, I have not experienced any numbness in my hand or fingers.”

    Because Shawn’s pain was related to his hip joint, this time he received care from Orthopedic Physician Dr. Peter Lukowski. Dr. Lukowski performed x-rays and determined that Shawn’s hip was too damaged for pain injections. Because of the severity, Dr. Lukowski referred Shawn to Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Eric Heimberger, a specialist in hip and joint replacement.

    Dr. Heimberger examined Shawn and determined that he was in need of a left total hip arthroplasty or replacement.

    “Shawn’s left hip was so deteriorated that he was at least four years overdue for this procedure,” said Dr. Heimberger. “As we age, our joints and the connective tissue degenerate over time, causing inflammation and pain, which sometimes will lead to surgery.”

    Shawn was immediately open to the idea of undergoing surgery desiring to heal his hip pain and restore his quality of life.

    “Dr. Heimberger is well-known in the region for his expertise in joint replacements,” said Shawn. “He assured me that having the left total hip replacement was the best option for my condition and that I would be better than ever after the surgery.”

    Before his operation, Shawn attended the McLeod Seacoast Total Joint Replacement Program. This one-day class, specifically designed for total joint replacement surgery patients, educates the patient and caregiver on what to expect during surgery and recovery.

    “Attending the Total Joint Replacement Program prepared me for my brief hospital stay,” said Shawn. “I knew what to anticipate before the procedure and the expectations of my recovery.”

    During surgery, Dr. Heimberger removed the damaged cartilage and bone of Shawn’s hip joint and replaced it with an artificial joint. He also removed a bone spur and two cysts that were adding to Shawn’s discomfort.

    A few hours after the surgery, Shawn was up and walking with a McLeod Seacoast Physical Therapist.

    “I had my surgery on Wednesday, and I attended church on Sunday,” said Shawn. “I continued physical therapy for three weeks at the Center for Health & Fitness in Loris and returned to work a week earlier than expected.”

    During his recovery period, Shawn planted a garden, hiked the mountains in North Carolina and spent quality time with his family.

    “It feels great to be enjoying my life again,” said Shawn. “I no longer struggle to move or ache from hip pain. Undergoing the total hip replacement was the best decision for me and my family.”

    In addition to his two experiences with McLeod Orthopaedics Seacoast, Shawn also received treatment for atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm, six years ago from McLeod Electrophysiologist Dr. Rajesh Malik with McLeod Cardiology Associates. He said he has not suffered any heartrelated problems since the procedure.

    “I feel like a walking poster child for McLeod Health,” added Shawn. “I have been treated by a number of McLeod Health physicians and all of my surgical procedures have been a success. I cannot thank the McLeod Health physicians and staff enough for their wonderful care.”

  • Wanda Blue

    By Rachel T. Gainey

    “When I come to see physicians in Dillon, South Carolina, I feel like I am visiting family,” says Wanda Blue of Fairmont, North Carolina. “It makes a difference when you walk into a practice and are greeted by name.”

    Wanda sees providers at Dillon Internal Medicine for her primary care needs. She has also been under the care of Dr. Michael Sutton, McLeod Orthopaedics Dillon, since 2011.

    “I was having pain in my knees and was under the treatment of another orthopedic physician for years, but the pain was not getting better,” said Wanda. “I was talking with a relative one day and shared that I needed to find another orthopedic physician. She worked at McLeod Dillon and told me about Dr. Sutton’s great reputation. I’m so glad she recommended him to me.”

    Dr. Sutton identified the pain that Wanda was experiencing as arthritis. “Arthritis is an inflammatory disease that causes pain, stiffness and swelling in the body’s joints,” explained Dr. Sutton. “More than 31 million people of all ages suffer from some form of arthritis. Pain and stiffness can affect a person’s life, sometimes making daily activities impossible.”

    A retiree, Wanda was no longer able to participate in the activities she most enjoyed, such as coaching a little league baseball team, walking on the Fairmont Community Park Walking Trail, or fishing.

    “To relieve pain and stiffness,” said Dr. Sutton, “Wanda tried pain relievers and steroid injections, which involves injecting a steroid directly into the problem area. These are often very effective ways for treating the inflammation that causes pain.”

    During a visit with Dr. Sutton in December of 2012, Wanda informed him that she was ready to have knee replacement surgery on her right knee, which was in worse condition than her left knee. The surgery was scheduled for January 15, 2013.

    “Dr. Sutton’s staff was very helpful in talking me through the procedure,” said Wanda. “I was at ease with my decision. I knew from my experiences that the staff at McLeod Dillon was going to take care of me, and they would do all they could to help me.”

    During her pre-admission visit, Wanda attended the joint education class led by the physical therapy team at McLeod Dillon. “The class was very helpful,” said Wanda. “It covered all of the information in the patient guide I received from Dr. Sutton’s office. It also helped get me ready for every aspect of the experience -- from preparing for my upcoming surgery through recovery. I knew what to expect when I arrived at the hospital the morning of my procedure and during my hospital stay."

    “The morning of surgery, the staff made sure I knew everything I needed to know about what was going to happen. Dr. Sutton also visited with me that morning and told m e he was going to take care of me. He was very reassuring,” said Wanda.

    After surgery, Wanda said the nurses were excellent and kept her pain under control. “I actually walked down the hall the first day. The nursing and therapy staff cheered me on as I walked and told me that I did well.”

    Wanda remained under Dr. Sutton’s care as she recovered from her right knee replacement and received treatment for the pain she was experiencing in her left knee.

    As time went on Wanda realized over-the-counter medications and steroid injections only offered minimal relief and the swelling was noticeably worsening in her left knee. Wanda’s left knee would also lock up and give away on her. After falling, Wanda knew surgery was the next logical step.

    “I was very happy with the results of my right knee replacement. I knew others that had traveled out of the area for knee replacement surgery who were not having the same positive results that I was experiencing. I felt very comfortable with Dr. Sutton’s recommendation, and I underwent knee replacement surgery on my left knee in December 2015,” said Wanda.

    Wanda explained that she had the same excellent outcome and recovery as she did during her previous surgery at McLeod Dillon. The reassurance of Dr. Sutton and the staff also meant a lot to Wanda. “I loved my nurses, both in surgery and those that cared for me after surgery.

    “Zipporah Farmer was one of the nurses who prepared me for surgery and made me feel at ease. The next day, Zipporah visited me and said, ‘I had to come by and check on you Mrs. Wanda.’ That made such an impression on me. I would not trade anything for the staff at McLeod Dillon,” Wanda said.

    Today, Wanda continues to recover from her left knee replacement surgery. She is also helping coach a little league baseball team of nine and ten year olds in Fairmont. Additionally, she can now go fishing or walking by herself without worrying that her knee will lock up on her.

    Besides sports, Wanda finds the most joy in spending time with her seven grandchildren.

    “I thank Dr. Sutton and McLeod for helping me get back to the things that I enjoy doing most,” said Wanda. “I also tell everyone about my experiences in Dillon, and I have highly recommended Dr. Sutton to many of my friends and family members.”

  • Cathy Oakley

    By Jennifer Beverly

    When Cathy Oakley was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in 2007, she decided to retire from her teaching position in Colonial Heights, Virginia, and move to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with her husband to enjoy the beach life.

    Following a mastectomy and reconstruction along with chemotherapy, Cathy decided to focus her efforts on keeping a healthy lifestyle. She began working out three to four times a week.

    “I joined the North Myrtle Beach Aquatic and Fitness Center to help stay active and fit,” said Cathy. “My fitness routine includes cardio, weight training and group classes.”

    Over the course of time, Cathy began noticing a sharp pain in her right hand starting at her thumb. She was also having difficulty gripping the machines and weights during her work-outs. One day, before leaving the aquatic and fitness center, Cathy stopped by to see Brian Lowe, a McLeod Sports Medicine Athletic Trainer, for a sports injury screening.

    Brian checked over Cathy’s hand and recommended that she see an orthopedic surgeon who specialized in hand and upper extremities.

    Cathy took Brian’s advice and made an appointment to see Dr. David Lukowski with McLeod Orthopaedics Seacoast the following week. Dr. Lukowski specializes in hand and upper extremity surgery and is board certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery. He has also earned an additional Subspecialty Certificate in Surgery of the Hand.

    Dr. Lukowski examined Cathy’s right hand and di agnosed her with osteoarthritis of the carpometacarpal (CMC) joint of the thumb. The cartilage at the base of Cathy’s thumb joint was wearing away to where bone was rubbing against bone causing her severe pain.

    “When I first began treating Cathy, she received cortisone injections to help control her pain,” said Dr. Lukowski. “She was hoping that the injections would be the answer, but my experience has shown that injections are usually only a temporary solution.”

    Eventually the injections were only lasting two to three weeks. Dr. Lukowski explained to Cathy that the best option was surgery. He recommended performing a Ligament Reconstruction and Tendon Interposition (LRTI) procedure which is the most common surgical technique to treat thumb arthritis.

    “Most patients achieve complete pain relief and mobility equal to that of a healthy thumb,” said Dr. Lukowski.

    Cathy knew she would have to wear a cast for four weeks and attend occupational therapy after the cast was removed. She left Dr. Lukowski’s office that afternoon to think about her decision and how it would affect her lifestyle.

    “I had decided not to have the surgery,” said Cathy. “I thought I could deal with the pain, but after thinking about it overnight, I called McLeod Orthopaedics Seacoast and scheduled the surgery.”

    Cathy said her outpatient surgery and recovery at McLeod Seacoast was an exceptional experience. After the cast was removed, Dr. Lukowski referred Cathy to the McLeod Occupational Therapy Hand Center for rehabilitation.

    “I did not realize how limiting it is to not be able to use your hand,” said Cathy. “After my husband tried to fix my hair for me, I was even more eager to attend occupational therapy to speed up my recovery.”

    Cathy and her therapists focused on therapeutic exercises and manual therapy to help her regain motion, strength and ability.

    “I went twice a week for 10 weeks to the McLeod Occupational Therapy Hand Center,” said Cathy. “The therapists were very supportive and were always a delight to be around.”

    After completing occupational therapy, Cathy eagerly returned to her normal routine of working out and staying healthy.

    “As a breast cancer survivor for more than nine years, it is important for me to take care of myself, exercise and stay active,” added Cathy. “Today, my hand is pain-free, and I’m thankful to Dr. Lukowski and the staff at the McLeod Occupational Therapy Hand Center for guiding me through this process. I had a wonderful experience and would definitely recommend Dr. Lukowski to all of my family and friends.”

  • Will Williams

    By Julia Derrick

    Will Williams always enjoyed running and racing with his sons. But on May 4, 2016, the father of three lost his balance and landed on his left pinky finger. Hearing a loud cracking noise, Will knew he had broken his finger.

    A trip to an urgent care facility confirmed a fracture in Will’s finger. He was advised to make an appointment with Dr. Christopher Litts, a board certified and fellowship-trained Hand Surgeon with McLeod Orthopaedics. Dr. Litts treats all disorders of the hand, wrist and elbow such as carpal tunnel, trigger finger, hand arthritis, ganglions or cysts, tendonitis, fractures, sprains and lacerations.

    An Information Technologist for Florence County in the Clerk of Court office, Will uses his hands to perform various computer tasks.

    “I depend heavily on the use of my hands and wanted the best treatment available,” said Will. “I found this level of expertise in the compassionate and quality care of Dr. Litts and McLeod Health.”

    Fractures of the metacarpal bone that lead to the little finger account for about one-third of all hand fractures in adults, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Without treatment, a broken finger may remain painful and stiff, limiting mobility and function.

    Dr. Litts determined that Will needed surgery and scheduled him for a procedure called CRPP (Closed Reduction Percutaneous Pinning) on May 9, 2016. During the surgery, Dr. Litts placed two pins in Will’s finger to straighten the bone.

    A week following surgery, Will returned to work on light duty. He wore a cast on his hand until the bone healed, at which point Dr. Litts removed the pins. Pleased with Will’s progress, Dr. Litts referred him to the Occupational Therapy Hand Center at McLeod Outpatient Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine.

    “Successful rehabilitation of many hand disorders relies on both the expertise of the hand surgeon and the hand therapist,” said Dr. Litts.

    Guided by the Occupational Therapists at McLeod, Will learned how to perform therapeutic exercises to regain motion, strength, and ability in his hand.

    Will has enjoyed his hand therapy experience and is nearing the end of his treatment. “The therapists are extremely helpful and encouraging. It really makes a difference when everyone involved in your treatment cares about you and your progress,” said Will.

    “Thanks to Dr. Litts and my therapists, I can now perform all of my job duties. I was truly placed in excellent hands with the team at McLeod,” added Will.