Overcoming Breast Cancer During a Pandemic
Adrienne T. Smith received her annual mammogram at Southcoast Health in Wareham in February. Within hours after reviewing her pictures, she received a call from the technician informing her that further testing had been requested by the radiologist. An appointment was made immediately.
“It never occurred to me that a recommendation for a biopsy would be the next step, followed by a diagnosis of cancer. I was, of course, surprised with a cancer diagnosis. I experienced benign cysts as a younger woman and had always been diligent with yearly mammograms. Since I had not encountered any lumps or bumps and felt great physically, it was disconcerting to imagine a proposed lumpectomy.”
Adrienne’s plan to combat non-invasive ductal carcinoma was simple: Follow the advice and recommendation of the oncology team that had been immediately formed for her particular needs. With the expert navigation of her liaison, appointments with a breast surgeon, radiologist, and a hormone therapist were quickly made.
“With the support of my husband, who was able to sit in on all discussions, a course of action was set in place. Because we had just entered into the COVID-19 lockdown, literally the next day after my surgery, my husband was no longer able to sit in on appointments. He sat in the car during my radiation treatments.”
Her only caveat to treatment was that any surgical procedure would occur after the birth of her first grandchild which was expected within three weeks of the suggested surgery.
“It may have seemed a silly request, but I was determined to be able to hold my granddaughter for the first time without family concern for me.”
Adrienne says the care she received from the Southcoast Health Breast Center in the following months was extraordinary.
“The doctors, technicians, nurse navigator, and, of course, my amazing breast surgeon, made me feel that I always had the support and was never alone. Their expertise, willingness to answer any question, and overall professionalism were instrumental to my recovery. As my radiation treatment ended, I felt that I was bidding a bittersweet farewell to friends.”
Breast Cancer Awareness has always played a pivotal role in Adrienne’s life as she has had two aunts who were victims of breast cancer.
“Because of this history, I have always known the importance of self-examination and annual mammograms. To re-emphasize these important factors, as well as diet, exercise, and additional health monitors, a specific month reminds women, and men, to take care of themselves and not ignore these factors even when feeling healthy. It is also a time for reflection and gratitude to be able to tell our stories to others.”
Adrienne says she has never felt despondent or any self-pity.
“I had, and have been, a very fortunate daughter, wife, mother, and soon-to-be grandmother. I am very fortunate that my cancer was detected at an early stage and that with successful radiation. I now appear to be cancer-free. I have reminded anyone who will listen that my outcome is due to detection during my mammogram. It’s important. It can save your life.”
Southcoast Health provides leading-edge breast care and services to women across southeastern Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island.