Stephanie Cho is used to being in anxiety-inducing situations. As an elite Division I athlete on Washington State University’s Track & Field team, she’s competed at many high level regional and national meets. Before coming to Pullman, she competed for Team Canada at the IAAF Youth World Championships and a myriad of other Canadian national events. But despite the hundreds of nerve wracking situations sport has placed her in, when Cho learned she would need surgery, she was nervous.
Cho first heard she would need surgery to remove a lipoma on her back during her final season of competition at Washington State University. She scheduled a surgical consultation with Dr. Nancy Panko at Pullman Surgical Associates. “Dr. Panko was extremely accommodating and understanding of my competition schedule and mindful of my situation as a student-athlete,” says Cho. “She explained the recovery process in depth and helped me understand how my training would be affected after surgery.”
Dr. Panko also outlined the alternatives to surgery and what the risks associated with those options were; the two ultimately determined that surgery would be the best plan. “Dr. Panko was professional and caring. I never felt rushed during our appointments and she went above and beyond in explaining the procedure and associated risks,” says Cho.
“A surgical procedure is a significant event. It’s important to me to make these decisions with patients and partner with them to provide all the information and education necessary to make an informed recommendation,” says Dr. Panko.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, hospital visitors were restricted. “I was extremely nervous to be going to the hospital for surgery alone,” recalls Cho. “From the moment I entered Pullman Regional Hospital, the staff were so friendly, patient, and understanding.”
Cho began her surgical procedure in the Same Day Services unit at Pullman Regional Hospital, where she was prepped for the operating room. “My nerves disappeared when the surgical nurses and a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist explained the procedure thoroughly and helped me prepare,” says Cho.
It’s sometimes the smallest things that end up being the most memorable. Cho recalls a kind gesture by one of the operating room nurses: “one of my earrings fell out during the procedure- the OR staff made sure to package it up in a small container to send me home with.”
“Overall I felt the Pullman Regional Hospital staff went above and beyond to make me feel comfortable, even with the extenuating circumstances of COVID-19,” concluded Cho. Post-surgery, Cho was back out on the track training with her teammates. She went on to qualify for the NCAA Championships in spring of 2021, where she placed 8th in the country in the 400 meter hurdles.
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