On New Year’s Eve 2013, Joyce Bendik danced with her husband. A seemingly simple feat that was improbable just one year earlier, the dance celebrated a year ahead filled with new possibilities.
In 2012, at age 78, Joyce was diagnosed with multiple-myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that can affect your bones. She began treatment at the Virtua Fox Chase Cancer Program and was determined not only to survive, but to continue living a full life with her husband, Ed.
“I can’t let this beat me,” Joyce told herself.
Then, Joyce slipped and fell. The fall, combined with the pressure of a large tumor, fractured Joyce’s spine. She was quickly referred to Dr. Orin Atlas, an orthopedic spine surgeon at Virtua.
The prognosis wasn’t good. With the cancer and the fracture, Joyce faced a serious combination of life-threatening health issues. If Joyce were to survive surgery on her spine, there was a risk of total limb paralysis or at least a significant loss of function.
But, that didn’t happen to Joyce; instead she recovered with full limb functionality. She also beat her cancer.
“When Dr. Atlas told me that I was going to walk again, I told him, ‘No, I am going to dance again,’” says Joyce.
Today, she credits Dr. Atlas, his team, and her caregivers at Virtua’s Rehabilitation Center in Mount Holly with saving her life. After a week in the hospital, a month in the rehabilitation center and physical therapy, Joyce is back to hosting dinner parties, vacationing on cruises and dancing with her husband.