Words from Our Patients

Not Today, Cancer

Rachel, Breast Cancer Patient

Rachel has a lot to live for: a wonderful family and a career she loves. She’s strong, poised and capable. However, she felt she may have reached her limit when, during her breast cancer treatment, her daughter asked, “Mom, are you going to die?”

“You cannot prepare yourself for that moment,” says Rachel. “I told the only truth I knew at the time – ‘Not today.’”

In April 2018, her Einstein mammographer noticed a lump on her scan. A biopsy confirmed stage 2 breast cancer. “I’m a teacher. I didn’t have time for the shock. We mapped a plan the next day,” Rachel says.

The “we” refers to Rachel’s family and her treatment team: oncologist, radiologist, Adam Reese, MD; and nurse navigator, Barb Heinzmann. “Barb was a lifeline. She scheduled all my appointments, guided us through paperwork and ran an amazing support group. I had access to her whenever I needed her,” says Rachel.

The team decided a course of treatment: chemo, followed by surgery and radiation therapy. “Chemo seemed the most difficult, so I wanted to get that out of the way,” says Rachel, adding, “The chemo nurses made it manageable. They explained everything.”

Six weeks later, Rachel opted for a double mastectomy and a DIEP flap procedure – breast reconstruction using belly fat from a tummy tuck. A course of radiation therapy followed. Even though scans show that she’s now cancer free, Rachel notes, “It has taken me a year actually to believe the cancer is gone and I’m fine.”

Rachel appreciates the ongoing help of her caring, compassionate team at Einstein. Today, she credits support group meetings with helping her deal with the emotional impact of cancer, treatment and recovery. “I’m so grateful for Einstein,” says Rachel. “They treat the whole person.”

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