Karen R.

Breast Cancer - Stage 2

Karen Reynolds

My experience with cancer and treatment at City of Hope taught me that this disease is not a death sentence. Extraordinary care exists. Everyone is different and everyone’s treatment experience is different. Your mindset and attitude are important to your treatment experience during and after cancer treatment. My faith kept me strong, supported by the healing atmosphere at City of Hope.

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. 

In 2012, I went in for a mammogram at my health care provider’s breast cancer center. Something small but possibly abnormal showed up on the mammogram so I was referred to a breast specialist.  After examining me, the doctor wanted to do a biopsy. She also said that while she doing the biopsy, she might as well remove what she sees. Not fully understanding what a biopsy was, nor asking the pertinent questions for clarity, I felt that the doctor was very ‘eager’ to perform surgery and remove something, so I dragged my feet. I wasn’t ready to take that step and needed to investigate what was being suggested.

I was concerned about what the mammogram showed, but not to the point of acting on it. Previous doctors had told me that I had fibrocystic breasts, which can affect their appearance in a mammogram. That factor had sometimes caused concern during previous mammograms, prolonging the days’ tests and creating significant stress, only to end up with the doctors releasing me with a clear mammogram report. So when the mammogram showed something abnormal this time, I figured it was because of the composition of my breasts and just another fire drill. But during the next six months, that small ‘possible abnormality’ grew into a lump I could clearly feel.

I discussed the lump with my chiropractor, and she offered to do digital infrared thermal imaging of my breasts. This procedure is different from a mammogram and not at all invasive. The initial image obtained a baseline reading, and three months later another scan was taken for comparison. Changes had occurred since the previous image in my left breast at the cellular level.

My chiropractor recommended that I see a gynecologist for a formal breast exam. The gynecologist immediately sent me for a biopsy, which led to an ultrasound. A few days later, my gynecologist diagnosed me with carcinoma in my left breast. She recommended a breast cancer surgeon, the same one our research directed us to. I began consulting with the initial doctor only to realize I was uncomfortable with the process, and the experience up to that point. I began to question if this was where I wanted me to be treated. Was this the approach I wanted to take? 

A friend of a friend

After the initial doctors’ consults (the surgeon, radiologist and oncologist), a friend familiar with my concerns told me about a couple she knew who’d had a phenomenal experience at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) Atlanta.* The husband had been treated there for colorectal cancer. My friend suggested that I talk to them.

I met the wife, and remember sitting in my car at a gas station, listening to her tell me about their awesome experience. I loved what she had to say. Extremely impressed with what I’d heard, I told her I would be calling CTCA® in the morning, but wanted to sleep on it. “You don’t have to wait until the morning,” I remember her saying, “they’re open 24/7.” I went to bed and woke up knowing CTCA was where I wanted to be treated. I talked with my family and we all agreed to pursue treatment at CTCA.  

Simple, easy and convenience

At CTCA, I was treated with eight rounds of chemotherapy, delivered every other week, followed by a lumpectomy and then six weeks of daily radiation. The side effects were minimal. I had some nausea and a few other minor issues. My naturopathic oncology provider gave me a comprehensive regimen to address and prevent the discomfort from these reactions. My Care Team prepared me for what I might experience without overloading me with concerns.

I did experience “chemo brain,” as many people call it. It was sometimes a struggle for me to stay organized. I worked during the first month of treatment, but decided to take some time off because it was difficult functioning and staying focused, which was highly stressful.

Overall the treatment at CTCA was simple, easy and convenient. Everything is under one roof, so there’s no need to drive from clinic to clinic and maneuver multiple buildings on a large campus for different appointments. The doctors come to your consultation (exam) room. The wait time is always minimal. Tests results are quickly turned around. All of my needs were taken care of. I could just relax and focus on healing. My sister, one of my caregivers, despite the reason for the visits, always looked forward to going to CTCA. It put me at ease to know my caregivers were well taken care of.

Back to work

Tests taken after the treatments showed no signs of cancer. After seven months of medical leave, I returned to work as a corporate trainer, doing what I love, which is helping people develop, improving their skills both on the job and in their personal lives. I am still rebuilding my strength but that is getting better with time. My friends and family celebrated my successful treatment with a surprise party at my home. The pergola I’d had built at my home so I’d have a special place to continue healing was the perfect celebration site.

My experience with cancer and treatment at CTCA taught me that this disease is not a death sentence. Extraordinary care exists.  Everyone is different and everyone’s treatment experience is different. Your mindset and attitude are important to your treatment experience during and after cancer treatment. My faith kept me strong, supported by the healing atmosphere at CTCA.

* 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.

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