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A Story of Hope from a Survivor

I am a young mother, wife, daughter, sister and a nurse.  Recently, I became a breast cancer survivor. 

My family has a history of breast cancer, so my physician advised me to begin getting yearly screening mammograms at age 35.  About seven months ago, I had my second 3D mammogram at the Ohio Valley Breast Center.  I was asked to come back for additional imaging.  My Ohio Valley mammography and ultrasound technologists made me feel so comfortable during those follow-up tests.

After my additional imaging, I was informed that the radiologist had found an area that they would like to biopsy.   The next step was a needle biopsy, during which a needle was inserted into my breast to remove tissue for further examination.  Dr. Stephen Burky, a radiologist at the Ohio Valley Breast Center, performed my biopsy.  He and the Breast Center staff put me at ease during the procedure by explaining everything to me, step by step.

A few days later, I received a phone call from the Nurse Navigator at Ohio Valley, who told me that the biopsy results were breast cancer and my next step was to see a breast surgeon. The Ohio Valley Nurse Navigator gave me the contact information for several local breast surgeons.  I chose Dr. Jennifer Daniels, from Surgical Associates of Springfield. 

When I met with Dr. Daniels, she patiently and thoroughly reviewed all my surgical options.  After talking to Dr. Daniels about my family history and risk factors, I chose to have a bilateral mastectomy, which is the surgical removal of both breasts. During that visit with Dr. Daniels, I also learned there is a federal law which requires surgeons to discuss and offer reconstruction options to each breast cancer patient.  After a great deal of thought, I decided to explore a very advanced type of breast reconstruction surgery called DIEP Flap.

Dr. Daniels referred me to a special group of surgeons at Midwest Breast and Aesthetic Surgery.  I called them and spoke to Dr. Pankaj Tiwari. He was amazing. We spoke on the phone for 45 minutes.  He emailed his office and set up an appointment for me. My husband came to the office visit with me to hear the different options discussed. Dr. Tiwari presented many surgical choices and I became even more convinced that DIEP Flap was the right choice for me.  It was decided that Dr. Tiwari and his partner, Dr. Ergun Kocak, and Dr. Daniels would work together to perform my mastectomies, and my DIEP Flap reconstruction, in the same surgical procedure.

I had my DIEP Flap surgery at Ohio Valley Surgical Hospital. I went to sleep before my surgery and woke up afterwards holding my husband’s hand.  It was just that easy. When I reflect on the diagnosis of breast cancer, I’ll say when I was first diagnosed I was scared and a little angry. My future seemed to have been taken away in the blink of an eye, but thanks to the expert care at the Ohio Valley Breast Center, it was caught early. Thanks to the caring hands of my surgeons my cancer was not only removed, but I was empowered and supported through life changing decisions. Thanks to the compassionate care given by the Ohio Valley Surgical Hospital Staff, my oncologist and my family, I not only healed but thrived.   

No one is ever thankful to have had cancer, but I am thankful for the changes this diagnosis has brought to my life. I am grateful for the care I have received and people who have touched me.  I have been blessed with another chance at today and a brighter tomorrow. Early detection gave that to me and I am a survivor.  

The patient in this article has young children and chose to remain anonymous.  She recounted her story and asked that it be shared during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.