From OHC, Specialists in the Treatment of Adult Cancers and Blood Disorders
October 28, 2021
“Don’t procrastinate when it comes to getting a mammogram.”
“I urge all women to get mammograms.”
This is sage advice from two OHC breast cancer patients, Stephanie Scott and Lynn Farmer, who share the same message although their journeys began quite differently.
At nearly 43 years of age, Stephanie never had a mammogram, an x-ray picture of the breast that detects changes in breast tissue. This past January, she noticed a nickel-sized knot in her right breast that seemed to be growing. She contacted her ob/gyn who scheduled a mammogram that indicated the mass needed to be biopsied. The biopsy revealed stage 4 breast cancer, specifically, HER2-positive invasive ductal carcinoma.
The latest breast cancer screening guidelines, which can be found at ohcare.com, recommend that women ages 40-74 have annual screening mammograms. “I turned 40 and didn’t schedule a mammogram,” said Stephanie. “Then, COVID hit so I kept putting it off.”
Lynn, 63, will never forget the day when her doctor’s office called to tell her they saw something on her mammogram scans. “I went in for a routine mammogram in January of 2017 and was told I had a calcification that needed a biopsy,” said Lynn. That March, her biopsy revealed stage 0 hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.
Fortunately, both Stephanie and Lynn were referred to the cancer specialists at OHC who have provided both the treatment and supportive care that give them the strength to fight their disease while sharing their stories.
Stephanie’s doctor referred her to OHC medical oncologist and hematologist, Mark E. Johns, MD. Stephanie felt she was in good hands as soon as she met him. He ordered CT imaging and reviewed the results on the same day. It appeared as though Stephanie’s cancer was also in her liver and lymph nodes.
“As soon as I walked in the door from the long drive home, I had a call from Dr. Johns,” said Stephanie, a resident of Aberdeen, Ohio. “Dr. Johns gave me the news and said, ‘I know you’re upset, but we’re not giving up hope before your fight begins,’” said Stephanie.
The biopsy of the mass on Stephanie’s liver was benign. Dr. Johns prescribed chemotherapy to shrink her tumors prior to a bilateral mastectomy, or surgical removal of both breasts. Following chemotherapy, Stephanie would also begin treatment with infusions of Kanjinti (trastuzumab), an immunotherapy, and Perjeta (pertuzumab), a targeted therapy. Stephanie completed chemotherapy in June and will receive infusions every three weeks for the rest of her life.
Lynn’s treatment began with a lumpectomy, a common surgery to remove cancer cells from the breast. Her surgeon referred her to OHC’s Karyn M. Dyehouse, MD, and OHC radiation oncologist Elizabeth H. Levick, MD, for further treatment.
Lynn was prescribed a five-year course of Arimidex, an oral medication to suppress her hormones, and radiation treatment. “Dr. Levick gave me a lot of printed material on radiation and told me what to expect,” said Lynn. “She also told me exactly what to do to help manage possible side effects.” Lynn had 26 treatments of radiation, which she completed this past June.
“I suffered with fatigue and some burns from the radiation,” said Lynn. “But, my outcome couldn’t have been better. Everything at OHC has been exceptional. OHC genuinely cares. Sometimes, you don’t get competence and kindness together. My experience was far less frightening and anxiety-provoking than what others have.”
Lynn has annual follow-up visits with OHC medical oncologist and hematologist Prasad R. Kudalkar, MD, to monitor her oral therapy. She was sad to leave Dr. Levick and her team after completing radiation therapy. “It’s a place no one wants to be, but in the end, it’s the hardest place to leave.”
OHC has helped Stephanie cope with her disease and this new phase of her life. “To me, OHC means support,” Stephanie said. “Dr. Johns gives me hope every time I see him. Plus, my treatment is all in one place, which is convenient for someone going through something difficult like this.”
Stephanie hopes that her story underscores the importance of getting mammograms. “Preventative care can save a life,” Stephanie advised. “If I had gotten my mammogram at age 40, maybe I wouldn’t have stage 4 cancer right now. Don’t think it can’t happen to you if it doesn’t run in your family.”
Mammography has been the standard screening tool for breast cancer for decades, and technological advancements have offered improved visualization of the breast. “3D mammography offers more images of the breast than prior imaging,” said Dr. Levick. “Images provided with these mammograms create a 3D model with slightly higher detection rates because we are able to see smaller cancers. 3D mammography also reduces the rate of false positives, meaning there are less call backs to women to obtain additional images.”
This Breast Cancer Awareness Month and beyond, OHC’s cancer experts join Stephanie and Lynn in promoting awareness about the importance of breast cancer screening. Review the latest cancer screening guidelines at ohcare.com. For more information on the innovative breast cancer treatment options available through OHC’s clinical research program, or to request a second opinion, call 1-888-649-4800 or visit ohcare.com.
Top picture: Left: Stephanie Scott proudly poses with a pink boa on the day of her last chemotherapy treatment. Her stepson (Cody), daughter (Miley), husband (Randy), and stepdaughter (Meggie) surprised her with a gathering in OHC’s Eastgate office parking lot. Right: Lynn Farmer visits with OHC’s Dr. Kudalkar during a recent follow-up appointment.Comments (0)