Breast cancer - Stage II
This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results.
View CTCA treatment results for breast cancer
Choosing a second opinion
When I was 50 years old, I went for a routine mammogram at a breast clinic in Little Rock, Arkansas. The specialists there told me that I needed to come back for a second round of images, which didn’t faze me because I’ve had my left breast rechecked at every mammogram for the past three years. This time, the recheck was needed for the right breast.
After the second mammogram, I was told I needed an ultrasound. The technicians were having a hard time getting the image. The doctor came to look at the ultrasound images and was concerned about something he was seeing. He wanted me to have a biopsy. When the biopsy results came back, I got a call from my breast surgeon, who told me I had breast cancer.
The next step was a CT scan and a bone scan, followed by a talk with the breast surgeon about my treatment plan. He told me and my husband what kind of cancer I had and said I needed to schedule surgery. He gave us some options. The possible approaches for my treatment were either a lumpectomy with radiation and possibly chemotherapy, if the cancer was found in the lymph nodes, or a mastectomy with no additional treatment.
My husband looked at the doctor and looked at me, and he said, “We are not scheduling surgery.” He wanted to get a second opinion. I knew he meant it, and didn’t want to argue. But that was hard to hear because I was ready to get surgery.
I was caught up in my emotions, and am very glad that my husband stopped and said no. He felt I was being rushed into a decision and he knew where he wanted to go for a second opinion: Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA).
Making a connection
Because my husband’s cousin had been treated for ovarian cancer at CTCA, he wanted me to go to CTCA for a second opinion.
My initial consultation at CTCA took a week, as I needed an additional biopsy. My husband said he felt that we were in the right place as soon as we walked into the hospital. For me, that moment came as soon as I talked to my breast oncologist, Dr. Anita Johnson.
Dr. Johnson was humorous, caring, warm, and gave me total confidence. I had complete trust in her from the start. When she looked at all the materials from the imaging tests I’d had before coming to CTCA, she told me that I needed a PET scan. Upon seeing those images, she wanted me to have a biopsy on the other breast, which revealed that there was cancer there, too.
Dr. Johnson recommended intraoperative radiation therapy, or IORT, where radiation is done during surgery. I didn’t want a mastectomy, and Dr. Johnson explained that I could be treated without one. It was my decision, but I never would have come to that decision without her thorough attention.
Only the right breast qualified for IORT, so I had surgery on the left breast at the same time, followed by four cycles of chemotherapy with taxotere and cyclophosphamide. I also had 30 treatments of radiation on the left breast. Altogether, I was at CTCA for about seven weeks.
The chemotherapy was difficult. I had some pain, some mouth sores, and fatigue. My bones ached and the pain medication was not helping. For all of these issues, my care team at CTCA was there to help. I had medication and supplements to control nausea. When I had to go to the local emergency room for the bone pain, my doctors at CTCA stayed in communication with the hospital.
I was on my own during the first week at CTCA, and my husband came to stay on the weekends. I had family there with me for most of the time, which was wonderful. But being on my own was not lonely, because there were so many people at the hospital who were looking out for me.
CTCA removed the stress. We didn’t have to worry about transportation, insurance logistics, or anything else. And they treated me with such care. One time I mentioned to someone that I was craving a baked potato, and a couple of days later there was a baked potato bar set up in the cafeteria.
The fact that everything is in one building was also a huge stress reliever. I didn’t have to travel from one office to another to get imaging tests, blood tests and chemotherapy. Everything was right there, under one roof.
A believer in second opinions
I was reluctant about getting a second opinion when my husband first suggested it. But now when I speak with people diagnosed with cancer my first recommendation is: get a second opinion. That is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Today I am feeling great. I have some residual fatigue, but I know that will go away with time. We celebrated the completion of my treatment with a trip to Las Vegas. My husband has given me strength through this time, bringing me back to reality when I needed it, helping me to laugh, and keeping me grounded.
CTCA was its own kind of motivation. The care that was given to me there got me through a difficult time, and I’ll forever be grateful for that.