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Jeni Foley

What led me to Northfield Hospital & Clinics

Jeni Foley faced her cancer diagnosis calmly – thanks to her surgeon, Dr. Jose Fulco.

When a blood test and ultrasound at another clinic revealed a golf ball-sized lump on Jeni’s thyroid, she contacted her primary provider, April Fitzloff, PA-C, at the Farmington Clinic with her test results. Fitzloff referred Jeni to Dr. Fulco for a biopsy.

It was thyroid cancer.

Dr. Fulco was calm when he called Jeni with her biopsy results. “The sincerity in his voice moved me, and he was just so nice,” Jeni recalls. “His demeanor set the tone for our relationship throughout this.”

Jeni needed to have her thyroid removed. A thyroidectomy – removing the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck – eliminates the cancer. Medication replaces the hormones produced by the thyroid to regulate metabolism.

Jeni wanted to know what to expect so she wouldn’t be anxious – and she wanted details. Dr. Fulco met with Jeni and her husband Tom. “He explained everything so well. He drew pictures and explained what the thyroid is and what he’d be doing during surgery,” Jeni recalls. “He told me every detail, so there were no surprises.”

“I tend to be high-strung,” Jeni adds. “When I get with Dr. Fulco, I relax and calm down, and I know I’m in great hands.”

Jeni had surgery at Northfield Hospital’s Surgery Center, about 25 minutes from her Farmington home.

“The day of surgery is when everything started to hit me,” Jeni says. “I wasn’t worried about the cancer part, but I felt very unsettled about being sedated. In the operating room, Dr. Fulco could tell that I was really nervous. He grabbed my hand as I fell asleep and said, ‘Jeni you’re going to be okay.’ That's the last thing I remember. He has this calmness about him. I found that very reassuring.”

Dr. Fulco was “phenomenal” to Jeni’s husband Tom, “who was more nervous than I was,” she adds.

After her surgery, Jeni stayed overnight. “The nurses were so attentive, and gave such great care. I never had to wonder what was happening for me.” Her room – and on-demand room service dining – were “absolutely great,” Jeni recalls.

One nurse was a reassuring presence throughout Jeni’s experience: Jill Thelen, RN, who provides a steady hand to Dr. Fulco in the Northfield Clinic.

With her thyroid removed, Jeni will take daily medication for the rest of her life to regulate her metabolism. After surgery, Dr. Fulco referred Jeni to an endocrinologist to continue her care – then followed up to make sure she was being treated well.

“It’s a cancer, but the success rate is so high,” Jeni says. “I never once was scared about diagnosis or treatment, thanks to Dr. Fulco and the great staff at Northfield Hospital. He set the tone right away that everything is going to be fine.”

With Dr. Fulco’s experience – as a board-certified general surgeon with 25 years of experience and special expertise in surgical oncology, thyroid and parathyroid surgery – “I trusted him from the very beginning,” Jeni says. “If I ever need general surgery done, I will request Dr. Fulco without a doubt. He is truly watching out for the patient.”

“I feel so fortunate to have had my care at Northfield Hospital,” Jeni adds. “If you have any anxiety, this is a great place to be. It’s a very calm place, with calm doctors and staff.”

And calm patients.

Learn more about General Surgery and Cancer Care.