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I Survived Cancer... Twice

June 5, 2016
I am a two-time breast cancer survivor.

My first diagnosis occurred when I turned 40 years of age, which was seven years ago. I remarried the love of my life, we returned from our honeymoon on a Sunday and that next Wednesday I was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). I had my first meeting with Dr. Lauren Schnaper, and she sent me for a stereotactic biopsy of the left breast. It was confirmed that I indeed did have DCIS. I then was scheduled for my lumpectomy.

Dr. Schnaper was the kindest, most informative doctor I have ever met. Once my lumpectomy was completed, I then met with Dr. Robert Donegan, my oncologist. He placed me on the medication tamoxifen, which I took for about three months, but my body just could not handle the medication. I then went through six weeks of radiation, and that caused me to have a pretty bad burn. Through it all, the doctors were very helpful and supportive.

I've kept up with my mammograms throughout the years, but if we fast forward to this past June, 2014, I found out that my breast cancer had returned in the same breast. That news really threw me into a tail spin. I returned to Dr. Schnaper, and she sent me again for another stereotactic biopsy which came back positive for pre-cancerous cells. She then recommended going in to get a larger tissue sample, so she performed another lumpectomy. My lumpectomy came back with the DCIS.

At that moment we decided to do a double mastectomy. I just decided that I was too young to go through this again, so on July 30th, 2014, Dr. Schnaper performed the surgery. I was scared to death, but she and her team made me feel at ease. After my mastectomy, we got my pathology report back and I indeed had a small area of immature dendritic cells or IDC. Early detection has saved my life not once, but twice.

I am forever thankful for the entire team at the breast center, and the GBMC oncology department. Dr. Sheri Slezak is my plastic surgeon at the moment, and she works very closely with Dr. Schnaper and is incredible. I had a staph infection in the left breast from my tissue expander during the beginning of my beast reconstruction, and had to have my expander removed. I ended up spending four days at GBMC’s main hospital on a vancomycin IV drip. I got incredible care at the hospital, from the emergency room staff, the doctors and the entire nursing staff.

Dr. Slezak is incredible and very companionate. She checked on me every morning while I was in the hospital. Dr. Donegan ran into my husband in the halls and he even came into my hospital room just to visit with me and talk. I am still currently in treatment at the breast care center and could never imagine seeing anyone else but this team.

Because of GBMC’s entire staff, from the nursing staff all the way up to my surgeon, I felt at ease during my surgeries and procedures. I am here and able to share my story with other women and encourage them to get their mammograms because of my wonderful care. I am forever grateful to GBMC.
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