From OHC

June 24, 2024

The American Cancer Society reports that one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. This statistic underscores the critical importance of regular screenings for early detection. OHC patient Katy Sweet embodies this message. Through her story, she empowers other women to prioritize their health and become proactive advocates for their well-being.

While trying to diagnose a few unrelated health symptoms Katy had been experiencing, her doctors found something alarming on her CAT scan results: a spot on her right breast.  Because Katy’s next mammogram was already scheduled and coming up, she called and changed the reason to diagnostic so that they would determine what the spot was.  Unfortunately, for Katy, the spot turned out to be stage 0 ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) breast cancer.

“It was a horrible journey at first because I was so nervous at each step.  I’d have testing and I’d be optimistic about the outcome, and it would come back and I’d need to do more testing.  There was so much stress and a lot of turmoil at first. But I knew I had great resources,” explains Katy.  She trusted her doctors but wasn’t entirely comfortable with the first breast surgical oncologist she met, so she sought a second opinion at OHC.

Originally, Katy met with Dr. Nicole Melchior, a former OHC breast surgical oncologist.  “I fell in love with Dr. Melchior, and she spent so much time with me, being thorough and I just felt extremely comfortable,” adds Katy.  Dr. Melchior wanted to be aggressive with the approach, which answered Katy’s fears and concerns, stating, “I just didn’t feel like a lumpectomy was worth the chance [of cancer coming back].”  On her 50th birthday, Katy underwent a bilateral nipple sparing double mastectomy with reconstruction.  Her reconstruction was performed by Dr. Neilendu Kundu of Mercy Health.

Because of her age and adoption history, Katy was interested in the possible genetic link to her breast cancer diagnosis.  She met with the OHC Genetic Risk Evaluation and Testing (GREAT) Program and had cancer genetic testing done.  Fortunately, they found no genetic cause.

Katy’s stage 0 cancer was treated with surgery and no chemotherapy or radiation, per the recommendation of OHC medical oncologist and hematologist, Mark E. Johns, MD.  When Dr. Melchior left in the fall of 2023, Katy moved to Abigail M. Tremelling, MD, FACS.  “Katy was incredibly lucky she found this early through an incidental scan, but because she had a mammogram scheduled, it would have been found around the same time.  This helped Katy avoid more severe treatment needs like chemotherapy and radiation, which typically have greater side effects,” explains Dr. Tremelling.

Katy was very happy with her decision to choose OHC for her treatment.  “OHC is 100% focused on cancer and I believe this makes it the better place to be.  It’s all they do, so they do it the best.  I knew I was in good hands from the moment I met Dr. Melchior and still feel that way today with Dr. Tremelling,” she says.  “You have to trust your doctors and I trust them implicitly.  And it’s not just the doctors. From the ladies at the front desk to the nurses, they provided an incredibly personal experience.”

Katy is doing well 8 months past her surgery, and she is now focused on spreading awareness to other women.  Katy already knew the importance of annual screenings and is grateful to her friends who encouraged her to be proactive about her health and schedule her mammogram every year.  She knows that early detection is key.  If she had never experienced those unrelated health symptoms or didn’t have a mammogram scheduled, she may not have found this until it was much later and harder to treat.  She understands that some women may be nervous about the screening saying, “I understand that some women don’t want to go because they don’t want to know, or they are in denial about something they feel, or they are just scared of finding out the results, but it’s so important.  Even if the results aren’t what you hope for, finding it early is going to make the difference.”

Katy is correct; early detection can mean the difference between life and death. The American Cancer Society recommends women with an average risk of breast cancer start annual mammograms as young as 40, but no later than age 45.  If you have a higher risk of breast cancer because of your family history, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider about what schedule is right for you.  You can also visit our screening guidelines for more on breast cancer and other cancer screenings you may be eligible for.

If you or a friend have been diagnosed with breast cancer, share this story with them.  OHC is here to help when you’re ready.  Please schedule an appointment, request a second opinion, or call us at 888-649-4800.

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