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.
Combatting the onset of a sudden fever and infection, Phillip Caulder, a recently retired funeral home owner and lifelong Chesterfield resident, found himself on a ventilator and battling for his life in critical care.
It was a normal weekend for Phillip and Yetive Caulder, a little over one year ago. They had just arrived at home from a birthday party and Phillip felt fine. The evening played out as usual -- Phillip falling asleep in his recliner while watching television as his wife went to bed for the night.
When Yetive heard her husband making strange noises in the other room during the early morning hours, she just assumed that he was up early getting ready for church.
As she entered the living room, she was startled to find Phillip curled up in the fetal position, unresponsive, feverish to the touch and gurgling. Every one of the blankets he had fallen asleep under were thrown all over the floor during the night.
Knowing that something was obviously very wrong with her husband, Yetive quickly called her daughter to come pick them up and take them to the Emergency Department (ED) at McLeod Health Cheraw.
“When we arrived at the ED, Dr. Gabe Simpson knew exactly what was going on as soon as he saw my husband. Phillip was showing signs of sepsis, and they immediately started working to save his life.”
Later that day, he was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit by McLeod Hospitalist Dr. Benjamin Weston and then intubated which allowed him to breathe.
Phillip was diagnosed with pneumonia, acute hypoxic respiratory failure and sepsis all while being in remission from Lymphoma, a rare form of cancer.
His body was about to endure an uphill battle with an already weakened immune system.
Phillip remained unconscious for the next five days while the ventilator breathed for him. His doctors worked to fight off the pneumonia and sepsis with powerful antibiotics and administered medication to keep his blood pressure up at a healthy level.
“I do not remember any of my time in the Intensive Care Unit, but my wife certainly does,” said Phillip. “Soon after our family posted about my condition on social media, prayers started coming in from all over, and I believe they went straight to heaven.”
The Respiratory Therapy team at McLeod Health Cheraw worked daily to help him breathe. On the third day, they attempted to remove Phillip from the ventilator, but to no avail.
“We had always made our wishes clear to the medical teams that Phillip never wanted to be put on life support, but if the situation arose where there was a chance that he could improve in the short term, we would go that route,” said Yetive.
With their window of opportunity quickly narrowing to meet this goal, the medical teams were doing everything they could to get Phillip breathing on his own as fast as possible.
On day four, they tried removing Phillip from the ventilator again with no success.
However, on the fifth day, the Respiratory Therapists weaned him off of the ventilator completely and Phillip was finally able to breathe on his own.
The first thing Phillip remembered after regaining consciousness was telling the doctor that he wanted to go home. Though Phillip was not ready to leave the hospital, Dr. Weston transferred him to a regular patient room on the Medical/Surgical floor.
“We could not have asked for more attentive nurses,” said Yetive. “They were willing to answer any of the questions that I had about Phillip’s condition and the doctors were wonderful. Dr. Weston was extremely nice and even prayed with us at the bedside during our time at the hospital. Dr. Simpson was wonderful as always and our family physician Dr. Travis Novinger was there working alongside them as a team to help Phillip recover.”
Phillip added another aspect of his care that blew him away were the Patient Sitters at McLeod Health.
An often overlooked role, Patient Sitters are invaluable as they provide a much-needed respite for weary family members waiting alongside their hospitalized loved ones. This service allows them to go home, rest and take care of obligations outside of the hospital with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their loved ones are in excellent hands.
“Yetive and I were unaware of this service until we needed their help during my hospital stay,” recalled Phillip. “I was never alone during the whole time I was there.”
Phillip’s hospital experience far exceeded their previous expectations for care in Cheraw. From the Emergency Department to the ICU and Nutrition Services to Security, the Caulders enjoyed a consistently excellent and compassionate experience for the duration of their stay.
Finally, Phillip’s condition began to improve. After being hospitalized for nearly two weeks. Phillip received the good news that he was going home on September 19, 2019.
One year later, the Caulders continue sharing the story of their excellent experience at McLeod Health Cheraw.
“We were blown away with the outpouring of love, support and prayers from our community, friends, family and the caregivers at McLeod Health Cheraw,” said Phillip. “We really had no idea how many people truly cared about us and how connected we are to each other in our tight-knit communities.
“I thank God for hearing the numerous prayers from all over the county and working through fine physicians like Dr. Simpson, Dr. Novinger and Dr. Weston, to heal me.”
Today, the Caulders have been enjoying their much-deserved retirement with their grandchildren between Chesterfield and their vacation home on Lake Tillery in North Carolina. They are grateful for every breath that Phillip takes and are looking forward to a healthy future together.