Woman Chooses Lumpectomy and Chemotherapy for Stage II Breast Cancer
Mammogram screening detects small lump
When Deanna Martin, 77, and her relatives gather for a family reunion, it’s a big group. A reunion several years ago hosted 500 people. During the celebration, Deanna found herself embraced in hugs and conversations about cancer. Ovarian, esophageal, lung and breast cancer seem to run in the family.
Deanna’s daughter learned she had breast cancer at the age of 40. Her brother also fought breast cancer, and her mother had a grapefruit-sized tumor on her ovary. As a result, Deanna’s loving family encouraged her to get annual mammogram screenings.
“I went in for a mammogram regularly because my daughter kept fussing and several mammograms didn’t have any indications of cancer. And then something showed up,” Deanna remembered. “It first appeared as a small lump. After a biopsy, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.”
Genetic testing helps create treatment plan
Due to her family history, Deanna underwent genetic testing following her diagnosis to determine if she carries a genetic mutation that significantly increase the risk of cancer. Deanna’s test results came back with a surprising conclusion.
“I was actually shocked,” said Shannon Hanley, M.D., breast surgeon, Genesis Breast Care Center. “Given Deanna’s family history, I anticipated a positive result for a genetic mutation, but her results came back as, ‘variant of unknown significance.’ Variant of unknown significance means that the sequence of the gene is not normal but is not a pathogenic mutation either. About 85% of these variants are benign.”
With her family history and genetic results in mind, Dr. Hanley and a team of expert cancer physicians met together at the Genesis Breast Care Center to discuss the best treatment options.
“Not all breast cancers are created equal, so all plans are different,” Dr. Hanley said. “We treat every single patient as an individual. No one is a cookie cutter – not in their personalities or their disease. That’s why the radiation oncologist, medical oncologist and I meet to look at patients’ imaging and test results. Then, considering their health, age and family history, we come up with a personalized plan for each patient.”
Chemotherapy, surgery and radiation close to home
Deanna’s threefold treatment plan all took place close to home, at Genesis, thus saving her valued time and much-needed energy. Deanna’s personalized treatment plan goal was to destroy cancer cells as much as possible before surgery. Deanna started her treatment with several rounds of chemotherapy. Next, Dr. Hanley performed a lumpectomy to remove the cancerous lump and 19 lymph nodes. Following surgery, Deanna underwent 35 radiation treatments – five days a week for seven weeks.
“It was rough for Deanna. The chemotherapy knocked her down a bit, but every time we saw her, she had a positive attitude and a smile on her face,” Dr. Hanley said.
Having a close-at-hand team of experts dedicated to providing collaborative, personalized and compassionate care brought Deanna comfort and encouragement during the difficult days of treatment.
“You could not ask for anyone better,” Deanna raved. “My radiation oncologist, Shalini Gupta, M.D., Genesis Care Center, was great. My oncologist, Phu Tran, M.D., hematologist/oncologist, Genesis Cancer Care Center, made me feel like I was a relative of his. He was always so concerned and compassionate. And I felt like I knew Dr. Hanley all my life.”
From Dr. Hanley’s perspective, it’s the high-quality care made available on a local level, in combination with compassionate and family-like atmosphere that makes the Genesis Breast Care Center exceptional. “I like that we have the same state-of-the-art equipment and all of the treatment locally that you could get at any larger facility, but we offer it in a more intimate and personal setting,” Dr. Hanley said.
Deanna’s treatment wasn’t easy, but she said the Genesis team and her faith, family and friends pulled her through. “The Lord and the people around me helped me through the treatments,” Deanna said. “It was overwhelming to be on the receiving end of that love. I give the highest praise to the doctors and nurses – and even the valet who parked the car at the hospital – and everyone I had contact with through my journey.”