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Patient Story: Stephanie

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portrait-of-stephanie

The first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic were so hectic that Overlake Clinics Coordinator Stephanie never did schedule a mammogram. “We were so busy managing new protocols and making important decisions for patient safety that the mammogram just dropped off my radar,” she says. “But truthfully, I hadn’t given it much thought.”  No one on either side of her family had ever had cancer and Stephanie only knew one person who had had breast cancer.

 “Cancer wasn’t something I worried about. I have a very healthy lifestyle, which includes a good diet and a lot of exercise.”

After COVID-19 cases began to fall, Stephanie started to catch up with her own medical care. In January, she made an appointment with her primary care provider who recommended she have a mammogram. “I’ve always felt blessed,” she says. “I never had any major health issues so when I had the mammogram, I wasn’t concerned at all.”

That soon changed when Stephanie received a phone call from Overlake Breast Health Center. “They said there was something irregular in my mammogram and wanted me to come in,” she remembers. “I asked them if I should be worried and they said no, that out of 100 patients usually there is only one patient with something irregular.

“It turns out I was that one in a hundred.”

 Stephanie was scheduled for a diagnostic MRI. “After they examined the images, they told me they saw cancer cells in both breasts.”

“I was stunned and felt like crying,” she says. “I told the nurse I felt so sad and asked her if everyone reacted this way. She said my reaction was a healthy one and that most people have trouble wrapping their heads around the fact that they have cancer.”

In April, Stephanie had a double mastectomy. The pathology report indicated the cancer had metastasized, spreading to lymph nodes in one arm. Radiation therapy for the lymph nodes in her arm followed.

Stephanie says her Overlake breast surgeon Eileen Consorti, MD, was amazing. “She kept in contact with me after the surgery and was so encouraging and caring.”

Although she is back at work now, Stephanie is still in treatment. “This will continue for several years,” she says. “And it’s worth it. I’m so happy to be alive. I feel so blessed to have so many friends and my family. My children have been wonderful, giving me support at home. I never would have thought my 17-year-old son could carry nine bags of groceries up the stairs at one time,” she laughs.

“I’m a big believer in sharing my story,” Stephanie says, adding that five of her friends and co-workers scheduled mammograms after she told them what she had experienced. “I find that very encouraging.”

Because the tumors in her breast were very deep, Stephanie wouldn’t have felt them with a breast self-exam. “There weren’t any bumps, lumps or pain,” she explains. She feels fortunate to be able to have a mammogram.  

“I hope people don’t ignore the opportunity to have a mammogram. It’s so important.”

 

When it comes to your health, knowledge is power. In order to understand your risk of developing cancer, it’s important to evaluate your risk factors and to make plans to manage any potential risks. Overlake offers genetic counseling and cancer screening tests. Learn more about Overlake's cancer care services here or call 833.766.5524.

 

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