It takes support

“When I first heard “cancer,” I immediately had a vision of all my kids when they were little, holding hands, and looking up at me. How was I supposed to tell them? That was what worried me the most.

As a busy mother of five and grandmother of 12, I ignored the marble-sized lump in my breast for months. Less than a week after calling the Majorie E. Radin Breast Center, I learned the truth – that I had stage-2 breast cancer.

I was immediately introduced to the cancer team, which included breast and plastic surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, a geneticist, a social worker, and nurse coordinator. There were so many caregivers, I could barely remember their names. I was stunned by the news, but felt I was in expert hands.”

By my side

Mary Stoll, a nurse coordinator and breast cancer survivor herself, was the one who helped me figure out how to break the news to my family, who is spread out all over the country. She continued to be by my side through all aspects of my cancer care, including chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, radiation, and breast reconstruction. She was so much more than just a shoulder to cry on. I’m so thankful that Nurse Mary was there to guide me, comfort me, and support me throughout the entire process.

My five children all reacted differently to my diagnosis, but after talking with the Radin team and getting a plan mapped out, I felt that I could tell my family with confidence that this was just a bump in the road, and we would get through it.

During the many ups and downs in my cancer care journey, I’m thankful there was always someone from my team right there to help me through it. There was one instance where, during radiation, I got a frozen shoulder and couldn’t put my arm up for a while. It got so painful during treatment that I started praying, and ended up falling asleep. While I was half-asleep, I felt someone run a warm hand along my arm and I felt all of the pain leave. When I asked my radiation tech what he had done to make the pain stop, he said he hadn’t been there at all, and suggested it was my guardian angel. I started crying, and had such peace and release in that moment. It was then that I knew for sure I would make it through this and regain my health.

Getting back to life

My grandchildren watched as I lost my vibrancy, energy, and hair. I couldn’t host my usual slumber parties or make it out to watch their sport practices. My youngest grandson relates hair to feeling better, so when my hair started to grow back, he’d look at me and say,

“Grandma, you’re feeling better because your hair is coming back!”

After cancer surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, I’m keeping up with my grandchildren again and back to work full-time. The support of my family and cancer team helped me navigate this breast cancer diagnosis, and made such an impact in my cancer journey. 

A team effort

Every patient deserves their very own “Mary Stoll” and the support of a coordinated, expert and compassionate team – all in one place. The team approach to cancer has helped speed the process for thousands of woman from evaluation through surgical radiation and chemotherapy treatments, to follow up’s that may include breast reconstruction.

Learn more about the Community Cancer Center and the many ways you can help make this specialized team approach available for all cancer patients in our region.

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