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Moments That Matter: Karen's Story

“You can tell people about it, but no one has any idea of the reality,” Karen V., 55, says in discussing her emotions after a diagnosis of breast cancer. She quickly reached out to the team at Hackettstown Medical Center – who knew exactly what she needed, both medically and emotionally.

“Some of my fears were pretty devastating in the beginning,” Karen confesses. “It was numbing.” But the team at Hackettstown “made a great difference in helping me through everything… To a person, starting with the people at the front desk, everyone was unbelievably friendly, caring and upbeat.”

“It’s amazing what we’ve assembled here,” says Maithili Rao, MD, medical director of laboratory, infusion and transfusion services at Atlantic Health System’s Hackettstown and Rockaway locations. “Our services, technology and care are exceptional, so patients like Karen don’t have to drive an hour or more to get the highest quality of care available.”

For months through treatment — surgery, chemotherapy, reconstructive surgery and radiation — Karen has leaned heavily on the expertise and compassion of this team. She has also developed valued friendships with both staff and other patients, even connecting with some on Facebook.


The team at Hackettstown “made a great difference in helping me through everything… To a person, starting with the people at the front desk, everyone was unbelievably friendly, caring and upbeat.”

Karen V.
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“Our patients and staff are a close-knit community,” Dr. Rao says. “We give every one of our patients the best possible experience, and I feel blessed that we have such a great team.”

Though Karen was once “numbed” by the experience, she now calls a few aspects “fun.”

“I have six wigs, all different lengths, colors and styles,” she says with a laugh. “The staff never knows which ‘Karen’ is going to walk through the door! It’s fun.”

Karen says that through the whole experience, including fears, challenges and hurdles, the new friends she has at Hackettstown helped her live up to her personal motto, “Push through. Just push through.”

“I couldn’t have done it without them,” she says.