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photo taken pre-COVID-19

I Have Goals That I Plan to Meet

November 24, 2020
More than 18 years ago, Sally Watsic was diagnosed with breast cancer. She received her diagnosis over the holiday season and was told the surgeon was out of town. Another physician overheard Sally’s conversation with her doctor and recommended GBMC - more specifically, Dr. Lauren Schnaper in The Sandra and Malcolm Berman Comprehensive Breast Care Center. “If you don’t mind the drive from Frederick, they would be the best,” noted the physician.

After making the decision to visit GBMC, Sally called Dr. Schnaper “her kind of doctor” - direct and to the point. After one surgery, Sally opted to have a double mastectomy and said to her surgeon, Dr. Sheri Slezak, that she needed to be on the field for her field hockey team. Sally’s surgery occurred on July 29th and by August 14th she was back on the field for try-outs. Both Dr. Schnaper and Dr. Slezak believe that patients who stick to their normal routines tend to experience a better recovery period.
Sally and her friend - photo taken pre-COVID-19
Sally had an amazing care team that consisted of her physicians, surgeons, and her oncologist, Dr. Robert Donegan, who encouraged her to keep up with her normal activities and routine. In addition to her medical team, she had a large support system from family, friends, and colleagues during a time when she thought her only battle was against breast cancer.

Ten years later, Sally began to experience pain in her hip and lower back. After two months, she visited an orthopedist who immediately ordered several x-rays and asked who her oncologist was, which she knew was not a good sign. Her original diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer had spread to her bones.
Sally and her family - photo taken pre-COVID-19

Sally went back to Dr. Donegan and began treatment right away. As part of her treatment, a rod was put in her left leg to sustain kyphoplasty and radiation. She quickly began to search her prognosis and to research everything she could. Her advice now? “Never look online,” she says. During her research, Sally read that she only had a 22% survival rate. She was not ready to give up her fight and quickly asked Dr. Donegan what clinical trials were available. After a few attempts, they finally found the one that worked for Sally.

Sally’s body has responded very well on this trial drug, but she says that the experience is more about the people. Her nurses, Karen and Judy, are so motivating and know that Sally isn’t willing to give up her fight.

“I will beat the statistics because I have a great team working with me. I have goals, that I plan to meet. I will see my children graduate college, see them get married, and most importantly, be a grandma! The clinical trial research team will help find the cure; I truly believe that.”

Because of many patients like Sally, the research performed at GBMC benefits the future of so many cancer patients and gives so many families more time with their loved ones. YOU can help give this gift of time by donating to our #GivingTuesday campaign benefiting the Clinical Trials program in The Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute at GBMC.

*all photos used in this article were submitted and taken pre-COVID-19.
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