In early 2014, Robert Satterfield was a vibrant, active man at the top of his game. He was walking and jogging five miles a day, had a beautiful family, and owned a successful business.
In May of that year, Bob experienced tingling in his legs. He thought he just needed to replace his running shoes, but then his feet and hands went numb. By June 4, he could barely walk into the emergency room. Blood work and other tests revealed devastating news – Bob had Mantle Cell Lymphoma. The cancer had settled in his spine, causing the numbness and paralysis.
Bob armed himself for the fight of his life. He started a regimen of six chemotherapy treatments every 21 days. He spent three months in various medical facilities while the chemo fought his cancer but also ate away at his physical and mental strength. By his 62nd birthday on September 3, 2014, Bob had reached a low point. The antibodies his body produced to fight the cancer caused neuropathy (weakness, numbness, and pain caused by damage to the nerves,) and his arms would move uncontrollably.
“I was miserable,” Bob says. “But then on my birthday, I got the best present. I was told Magee had a bed available.” According to Bob, that changed everything. “The day we walked into Magee, our whole life changed.” The care and love Bob felt at Magee brought him hope.
Bob worked hard in therapy every day. It was a long haul, but Bob also had the love and support of his wife, Patti, and his daughters Stella and Christa. He learned how to move from his wheelchair to his bed, dress himself, and perform other daily activities. He was discharged from Magee’s inpatient hospital and started outpatient therapy at Magee Riverfront, including occupational therapy and locomotor training (LT) in physical therapy. LT involves being suspended over a treadmill and stepping the legs to help the nervous system re-learn how to walk. Bob’s physical therapist Melania describes him as “a hard worker who knows how to use humor to get through the hard times.” Bob’s hard work has paid off: he is walking with forearm crutches in his house and can climb stairs. He makes his own coffee and cooks on the grill.
“It’s like a puzzle, and each day I put another piece in place,” Bob says of his recovery. “One day soon, I will see the completed picture. I know it will happen if I believe.”
It’s no wonder, then, that Bob plays Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” during every therapy session. This week, Bob will be discharged from outpatient therapy. His journey will continue at the Wellness Center at Magee Riverfront, where we all look forward to watching him complete the puzzle!