When diagnosed with breast cancer, patients have a number of different options. 18 News Reporter Samantha Lantz introduces us to a person whose job is to help the patient navigate through those options.
Getting that initial diagnosis is unboutably one of the scariest moments in a breast cancer patient’s life. Dr. Ziauddin, a surgeon at Guthrie is often the first person to sit down with a patient and talk about treatment options.
“It has to be individualized based on the extent of the tumor and the size of the breast,” Ziauddin said.
In order to provide the best, most personalized care, doctors and nurses meet every week to discuss the most effective treatment plan for each and every newly diagnosed patient at Guthrie.
“It’s not just the surgery, or just chemotherapy, or just radiation…these treatments have to be coordinated and delivered by different doctors so all the doctors have to meet and plan and coordinate. Some patients may not need surgery. For some patients, they may need chemo first,” Ziauddin said.
Most women diagnosed with breast cancer will end up having surgery. But thanks to newer, less invasive techniques, a patient is likely to bounce back much sooner.
“Most of the time it’s not a very long hospital stay and there’s usually not a lot of pain and the patient can get back to their usual activities pretty soon just nothing strenuous for a few weeks,” Ziauddin said.
“I was off work for two weeks, and when I did go back to work I did light duty desk work which is a lot of what I do anyway so that wasn’t really a problem, and then returned to my normal duties,” Margaret Zimmer, a breast cancer patient said.
Margaret considers herself one of the lucky ones, her stage one cancer was found early, thanks to 3-D mammography.
“Most patients these days, because there’s early diagnosis and early detection with mammograms and 3-D mammograms, they get diagnosed with breast cancer early and can just have the tumor removed and preserve most of the breast,” Ziauddin said.
For those who have a mastectomy to remove both breasts, often times reconstructive surgery is an option. Sometimes it can even be done on the same day.
“I just didn’t want to deal with that second one so I was just like take them both proactively and so that’s what we did,” Joyce Cooke, a breast cancer patient said.
“I think that was a big part of the self-esteem being OK and stable. Had I had one done I think it would’ve been harder on me personally, it’s a personal choice you know what you are comfortable with and everything,” Cooke said.
Now, Guthrie has someone specifically dedicated to helping breast cancer patients make these tough decisions…responsible for coordinating appointments, answering any questions, and acting as a support to patients.
“It’s so difficult and scary when you get that diagnosis. First of all it changes a person’s whole life you know and I think having a person like myself it just makes it easier for them then to try to figure out things on their own,” Lisa Guyer, Oncology Nurse Navigator at Guthrie said.
“There’s been a couple times I texted Lisa or called her and said I’m a little concerned about this and she’s gotten right back to me. She’s been very good about all the scheduling of appointments I haven’t really had to do any of that, all of the visits that I’ve had everything connects to the next and they just have their plan and we just kind of fall into it,” Zimmer said.