The week before Thanksgiving in 2016, I felt a strange lump in my breast. The following week, I went to my OBGYN who had me get a mammogram (I was already up to date on my mammograms), sonogram and biopsy. On December 6, I was told I had breast cancer.
I was originally scheduled to have a lumpectomy, but the MRI showed I had a “satellite tumor” in addition to the original tumor so I needed a mastectomy instead. I thought this would be it and that I would get to return to teaching after the holidays, but during the surgery, they tested 26 lymph nodes and found that 25 had cancer. Plans changed again – I would need chemotherapy.
At the end of December, I started seeing Dr. Neelima Denduluri at Virginia Cancer Specialists. Right from the start, I immediately felt comfortable with her and the rest of my team. She sent my case out to several other doctors at Virginia Cancer Specialists and The US Oncology Network to get their opinions, and was very thorough in explaining exactly what my treatment would entail.
I began my chemo on January 29, one month after surgery. So far I’ve done four of my eight sessions, and I’ve been so impressed with everyone at VCS. All of the nurses – Laura, Nicole, Mary Alice, Wendy, Ann, Marie and more – have been so knowledgeable, helpful and kind. They have been great about helping me manage my calendar of appointments. One of my sessions had to be pushed back because my white blood cell count was too low, and the nurses and Dr. Denduluri could tell I was upset and helped reassure me that everything would be okay.
I live quite near Virginia Cancer Specialists in Virginia Hospital Center and am thrilled that access to such wonderful care is simple for me. I love the fact that all my doctors know each other and work well together. Throughout my diagnosis and treatment I have truly been surrounded by angels. I have an incredible family and support network, and I am reconnecting with friends that I haven’t seen in ages. It’s really quite wonderful to see how God is working in my life, and in our community through all of this. I truly know that my cancer journey is part of a bigger plan!