Chris J.

Breast Cancer - Stage 0

Chris Johnson

I am so thankful that my journey brought me to City of Hope. Even years later, I am amazed at the quality of care that I received and still receive. I cannot say enough good things about the City of Hope employees who took care of me.

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. 

Many women are used to receiving the “do-over letter” after an annual routine mammogram. Sometimes the technician cannot see everything, perhaps because the scan wasn’t done correctly, and we receive a letter in the mail asking us to return for another test. In 2007, just a few days before Christmas, I received such a letter. But because I had received the same type of letter a few times over the years and I was busy with holiday preparations, I set the letter aside. 

After New Year’s Day, I opened the letter and gave it the attention it deserved. To my surprise, the letter said I needed to return for another mammogram because of something the radiologist had noticed. The region of my breast referred to in the letter had not been a hard-to-read area in the past, so I was concerned. I tried to tell myself that it was just another breast cyst, something I’d experienced before, but I couldn’t quite convince myself.

Three weeks passed before I was able to get in for another mammogram. I was then referred to a surgeon for a biopsy, which I had on Feb. 14, 2008. The results confirmed that I had ductal carcinoma in situ, also called stage 0 breast cancer. When I heard the word “cancer,” I couldn’t believe that the surgeon was speaking about me. It was as if the conversation was about someone else. I felt like I was floating out of my body and watching myself from a distance—it all seemed so surreal. “They couldn’t be talking about me. I don’t have cancer,” I thought. 

But they were talking about me and I did have cancer. I went ahead with the recommended lumpectomy and was sent home immediately after the procedure. A couple of weeks later, I returned for a follow-up visit and the surgeon reported that the incision was healing nicely. He recommended that I see an oncologist to learn about treatment options.

My husband and I decided to seek a second opinion from an oncologist of our choosing. We decided to call Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA).* All that mattered was that I had the right care for me. 

Finding my path

We called CTCA® the next day. Very soon we were speaking with an Oncology Information Specialist who told me about the hospital's programs. Even from dealing with the initial paperwork, I could see the dedication that went into patient care at every step of the way. 

I went for an initial consultation and met with my medical oncologist, who explained the particulars of cancer very clearly, even drawing pictures to make sure I understood exactly what he was telling me. He wanted to do an imaging test just to be certain that all problematic areas were detected. It turned out that he found two new trouble spots. I decided to proceed with treatment at CTCA.

In mid-May of 2008, my breast surgeon performed a lumpectomy. In addition to a smooth procedure, I was left with a scar that was barely visible. I was surprised that I was kept overnight for observation after the surgery at CTCA Chicago. A friend who came to visit me at the hospital expressed her amazement about the care I was receiving.

I also received radiation treatment with MammoSite® Targeted Radiation Therapy. With this procedure, a balloon-type device is inserted into the area where the cancer cells are located. The radiation was completed in five days, with two treatments per day, and the only side effect I experienced was being a little tired.

My breast cancer was caught early and my medical oncologist says early detection is key in fighting cancer. After my diagnosis, I would tell other women how important it is to get a yearly mammogram. Two of those women were my sisters. One went regularly to be tested, but the other had not been in a few years. After promising them lunch, they both went for their mammograms. One of my sisters was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. She did not think twice about going to CTCA. I am happy to say that in 2014, my sister attended Celebrate Life® to commemorate her five-year survivorship.

Quality care

I am so thankful that my journey brought me to CTCA. Even years later, I am amazed at the quality of care that I received and still receive. I cannot say enough good things about the CTCA employees who took care of me.

I also want to acknowledge the faith that helped carry me through my fears. The strength to cope with this challenge came from God. My family and friends were also there to offer support when I needed it the most. I do not know what I would have done without this network of support on which I could lean. The prayers, meals and calls—and just having them there—helped get me through a rough part of my life.

It’s a brand new life

Today, I am feeling great. I am a Cancer Fighters® Ambassador and am part of Cancer Fighters Care Network where I am able to help others who are just beginning their journey at CTCA. I speak at different events hoping to convey how important it is to take care of yourself and to get yearly mammograms.

As I am nearing the 10-year mark of survivorship, I think back to all the things I have been able to enjoy: watching our son grow up, celebrating my dad’s 90th birthday, weddings, travelling, helping others and generally, just enjoying life with my family and friends.

* Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) is now City of Hope®, working together to expand patient access to personalized, comprehensive cancer care. Because this patient testimonial was written and published before CTCA® and City of Hope joined forces, mentions of legacy CTCA locations have not been updated in the interest of maintaining the patient’s original voice and story details.

Treatment at: