My History With Dr. Alyssa Degnan

Member First Name
| January, 30 2024 | for Dr. Alyssa M. Degnan

In 2015 I retired from my position of 35 years as a professor. That same year my best friend from graduate school moved to Aiken so that we could share our retirement years together. One of the first things he asked of me was the name of my personal physician. He was shocked when I responded that I had none! He then asked when I had last had a complete physical exam. When I responded that the closest thing I had ever had to a physical exam was the one that was performed when I was drafted into the army in 1972, he shamed me! What can I say? I have always been a bit stubborn and contrary to ordinary, not hesitant to push boundaries. When I inquired from my former students and friends in the health care fields who they would recommend as a personal physician, the overwhelming recommendation was Dr. Alyssa Degnan. Even after our first visits with her, both my friend and I were impressed that she was so personable and empathetic while also instilling confidence in her expertise, thoroughness, and professionalism. I also found her nursing and support staff to be equally friendly and competent. When I informed Dr. Degnan that I had never had a personal physician and that it had been over 40 years since I had ever had a physical exam, she responded, “Well, it looks like we have a lot of work to do!” And so, the journey began. The results of my first exam showed that my PSA levels were off the charts (50+). I could see the concern in her eyes, and she immediately referred me to a relatively new urologist in Aiken. He was exceptional (as every physician to whom I have been referred by Dr. Degnan has been). Unsurprisingly, when he biopsied my prostate every sample contained cancer cells, and a scheduled cryotherapy followed. I have had routine follow-ups since that time, and my PSAs have stabilized at an acceptable level. What followed was a series of referrals for tests (eg. pelvic MRI, abdominal aorta ultrasound, abdominal/pelvic CT, liver/hepatic ultrasound, etc.). Following a bout with peptic ulcers, I received an endoscopy and colonoscopy. After these, she continued to manage my physical health with appropriate medications. She was committed to seeing that I had the care I had missed for so many years. In 2019 we lost my friend to esophageal cancer. I had transported him to all of his appointments including his chemotherapy treatments and extended trips to the Mayo clinic in Florida, and I was there in his last moments to help him die. It left me emotionally fragile. In 2020 I learned that my youngest son had been diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma, an aggressive blood cancer, and ten days later that my oldest son had committed suicide. I was a “basket case,” but I was blessed to have Alyssa there to provide a shoulder to cry on, a loving presence for advice on how to face my issues, and to prescribe medication for depression when I chose to continue to see her rather that being referred elsewhere for counseling. Today I am able to laugh again and face each morning with a good outlook. I love Alyssa Degnan, and I know that she loves me. I know that she has saved my life and given me hope for that life to continue. She is no longer just my personal physician but also a dear friend.