Home Infusion Helps Grateful Cancer Survivor Reclaim Her Life

By on September 6, 2019

After overcoming ovarian cancer in 1995, retired nurse Lydia Zwilling realized that her battle to reclaim her health was far from over. Nearly a quarter-million women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year and for most, treatment goes according to plan. Unfortunately, some like Lydia, experience complications that last a lifetime.

Radiation therapy saved Lydia’s life, but it burned her small intestine. For over a year, she was in healing mode, unable to have the surgery she needed to remove the damaged portion of her intestine or take anything orally. This contributed to complications that ultimately caused her kidneys to fail. She had to be put on dialysis for two years before she received a kidney transplant in 2006.

Doctors eventually removed the burned portion of her small intestine, leaving her with just three functioning feet of her bowel (the small intestine is normally 20 feet). Diagnosed with short bowel syndrome (SBS), Lydia started to experience dramatic weight loss because her body could no longer absorb adequate nutrition. At 72 pounds, she was emaciated and unable to regain the weight. She became home-bound.

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“I felt deeply frustrated,” Lydia said. “After beating life-threatening cancer, I still had no strength or energy. I decided it was time to take some action to see what could make me better.”

In 2006, Lydia was introduced to Option Care, a home and alternate site infusion service company that treats a broad range of complex and acute conditions. Her physician recommended she give it a try. They decided to put her on total parenteral nutrition (TPN), which gives her the nutrition she needs through her veins. Lydia began receiving treatments at home seven days a week for eight hours a night.

“I was ready to try anything and TPN was a great fit for me,” Lydia said. “It made an immediate difference in my overall health and I finally started to feel like myself again.”

With a supportive husband and two kids, Lydia’s entire family stepped up to support her as she navigated her health journey. Both Lydia and her husband are registered nurses so they are able to handle her TPN treatments and labs from home. Lydia regained her strength and weight and now is able to take a break from self-infusion a couple of nights a week. 

CancerLydia also works closely with her care team to receive additional antibiotics when she needs them and coordinates directly with her physicians to communicate any changes in her treatment.

“I’ve developed a close relationship with my infusion care team and we’ve gotten to know each other on a personal level,” Lydia said. “You can tell that they care about what is going on with me and not just my medical health. I have complete confidence in their abilities to provide me with the best care possible.”

“It’s professionally rewarding to see how infusion services have impacted Lydia’s life,” said Option Care Director of Pharmacy Dan Dixon. “It is very gratifying to work with patients like Lydia who truly transform during their course of infusion treatments. As her health has continued to improve, I felt like I was making a difference in her life.”

As a grateful cancer survivor and at 72 years old, Lydia is thriving thanks to home infusion therapies. She credits her involvement with Option Care as enabling her to regain a near-normal life. She is now able to visit her kids and grandchildren who live six and a half hours away, as well as escape the Minnesota winters for vacations in Florida and Arizona.

“I can get out and get back a little bit of my life that I had before,” Lydia said. “It’s important to spend your energy on trying to get yourself better. Home infusion helps me do that.”


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Home Infusion Helps Grateful Cancer Survivor Reclaim Her Life