When Neal Castaldo was turning 63 years old he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was scared and confused. But from the day he entered the new Cheryl R. Lindenbaum Cancer Center his fears were soothed. He was comforted, assured smiled at. Neal, a teacher for more than 30 years, says those are things you take with you… Neal’s prescription was for 44 radiation treatments, five days a week for nine weeks. The first treatment on the first week was a mock treatment so Neal could feel what it felt like to be in the tunnel.
Neal describes meeting his radiation oncologist, Dr. Chika Madu for the first time. He was amazed she knew so much about him from the minute he walked into the room. She had obviously studied his folder thoroughly. She knew his past. She knew who his urologist was. She knew when he was first diagnosed. Neal said it was as if she knew him before they met. Dr. Madu also carefully outlined everything that would happen, which he found very comforting.
Neal says he was amazed at how easy the treatments actually were. He would arrive at the hospital at 8:30, be greeted with smiles, asked what kind of music he would like to hear (Neal likes pop music.) and at 8:45 a.m. he would be in his car driving away. During his treatments Neal had to meet with Dr. Madu every Tuesday, which he called “an absolute joy”. She would check on his progress, ask about symptoms, because there are reactions that you can have to radiation. And answer any other concerns he might have, even including questions like how to tell his two grandchildren about his condition, or when he could take a vacation again. Neal said throughout his treatment Dr. Madu was always there for him.
Neal was astounded that for 44 visits he could be greeted with smiles and real concern, by every member of the staff he encountered. Whatever the weather, whatever other problems might be on their minds. Neal is now finished with his treatments, his prognosis is good, and he states glowingly:
“If I had a friend in need of any kind of medical care, I would explain to them that there is no other place they should go,'' said Neal. "In fact, I’ve already done it. At Hudson Valley every word they say, every question they answer, the thoroughness, the comforting tone in their voices, the feeling you get as a human being is all part of patientology.”