Having lymphoma provided St. Luke’s Ronald Feltenberger with an insight that proved invaluable as he led the renovation of the Infusion Center at St. Luke’s Lehighton Campus. Feltenberger, Director of Facilities at St. Luke’s Miners, Lehighton and Carbon Campuses, was recently named the 2021 Lehigh Valley Light the Night Honored Hero by the Lehigh Valley and Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Feltenberger, who is now cancer free, is amazed that he is being honored because he doesn’t feel that he did anything special. Throughout his treatment, which included surgery, three rounds of chemotherapy and 17 daily treatments of radiation over three and a half weeks, he continued working, missing only four days.
“I’m no hero, I’m just some guy who wanted to be normal,” he said. Maintaining a regular schedule was not only necessary for his own wellbeing, but also for his daughter’s. Only 18, when he was diagnosed, she had recently lost her maternal grandmother, and four years earlier Feltenberger’s father, to lung cancer. Maintaining normalcy allowed them both to cling to hope.
Feltenberger’s cancer journey began when he felt a lump in his neck shortly after New Year’s Day, 2020. A week later, it had swollen to the point that it was visible. He saw ear, nose and throat specialist Jarrod Keeler, MD who scheduled a CAT scan that showed two abnormal growths. Dr. Keeler offered Feltenberger the choice of a biopsy or removal of the tumors.
“I said let’s get them out,” he responded. On March 26, 2020, a week after the COVID shutdown started, Dr. Keeler removed not only two, but three growths, all of which were cancerous.
“That started a whirlwind,” he said. As soon as Dr. Keeler learned the results, he arranged for Feltenberger to see hematological oncologist Neil Belman, DO the very next day. He ordered a PET scan that showed various hot zones from Feltenberger’s jawbone to his collar bone. Within weeks, he began chemotherapy. Then, a five-week break before beginning 17 daily radiation treatments as prescribed by radiation oncologist Nicholas Cardiges, MD. On August 5, he received his last dose of radiation at St. Luke’s Cancer Center in Allentown and triumphantly rang a bell there to signal the end of his cancer treatment.
Coincidentally, about the time he was diagnosed, renovations had begun on the infusion center at St. Luke’s Lehighton Campus (formerly Gnaden Huetten). Feltenberger was named the project manager. Because he has a very talented crew of tradesmen, the St. Luke’s Lehighton Campus Facilities Department did most of the renovations, which spanned from April to October 2020.
“My cancer experience gave me a unique perspective,” he said. “I knew what it was like to sit in that chair. I had observed how the nurses interact with the patients; how they access equipment and things like that. I had a lot of recommendations, such as chair placement, lighting and even the direction of the HVAC vents. I made sure they didn’t blow on top of the chairs. I knew that taking in the chemotherapy fluids gives you the chills.”
Feltenberger also felt it was important that the newly renovated infusion center had a bell for patients to ring in celebration of their last chemotherapy treatment. So, he donated one and had it inscribed with his personal motto, taken partially from the Breaking Benjamin song I Will Not Bow. The inscription says, “I will not bow, I will not break. I will fight with the fury of a storm.”
Light the Night is a fundraising campaign benefitting LLS and their funding of research to find blood cancer cures. Coming together for a common goal, friends, family and coworkers form fundraising teams and gather to celebrate, honor or remember those touched by cancer. Feltenberger is leading the Diving for Duck Bucks fundraiser. Individuals can purchase rubber ducks and on Aug. 28, the ducks will be placed in a pool at Eagles Peak Campground in Robesonia, Berks County. Feltenberger himself will jump in and grab ducks at random. Owners of the ducks selected will win prizes worth up to $500. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.teamfightwithfurry.com