At age 53, Patty* went from a stage three breast cancer diagnosis to complete remission in six months. She’ll tell you it wasn’t an easy road, but with the support of her doctors and Dayton Physicians Network, she is feeling better every day and thinking about the future again.
“I was the first female in my family to be diagnosed with breast cancer,” Patty said. “They say it’s genetic, but that’s not always true.”
When Patty noticed her breasts began to look abnormal, she did a little internet research, only to discover she had all five of the classic signs of breast cancer. She contacted her doctor and was referred to a specialist.
“You feel distraught,” Patty said about her diagnosis. “You feel like your life is finished and wonder if the cancer is going to take over. You wonder how long you have to live. Whether it’s stage zero, one, two or three, it’s very distressing.”
For her treatment, Patty selected Dayton Physicians Network, a multi-specialty network that provides comprehensive cancer care and urologic care services at 12 locations throughout the Miami Valley.
Before treatments begin, patients with DPN are assigned a nurse to thoroughly review the treatment plan and possible side effects. Patty spent over two hours with her nurse, who walked her through the onslaught of new and overwhelming information and terms.
Treatment started almost immediately. In addition to surgery, Patty underwent six cycles of chemo, each lasting between four to six hours, every 21 days, and then endured 28 consecutive days of radiation.
No one wants to go through cancer treatment, but certain things can make the experience more manageable. The Dayton Physicians infusion room located in Miami Valley South is lined with windows and flooded with natural light. Patients are made comfortable in reclining chairs, with options for heated blankets, snacks and beverages.
“A lot of people like it there and request that location,” Patty said. “It’s convenient, with good access from the highway, and parking is great.”
Support system + positive outlook
If you ask Patty what got her through the treatment, she’ll tell you that, in addition to a great support system from her sister, close friends and DPN, she kept a positive attitude.
“I guess I didn’t want the cancer to take over – I wanted to beat it,” Patty said. “I didn’t sit and dwell on the fact that I had cancer. You have to think about things that make you happy.”
And it worked. On her birthday this year, Patty received the “all-clear” and had a whole new reason to celebrate. A few weeks later, her chemo port was removed.
“No more port means no more treatment,” Patty said of this major milestone in her care. “I’m done.”
Even with the all-clear, Patty will have routine meetings with her oncologist and surgeon. She’ll undergo regular blood checks and work diligently to maintain her health.
Patty’s after-care included her participation in the Dayton Physician Network survivorship program, which is designed to help patients navigate the challenges faced during recovery. Patients are made aware of late and long-term effects of treatment and are supported with after-care options specific to their type of cancer.
As a part of the program, Dayton Physicians screens for a variety of issues including anxiety, depression, distress, changes in cognitive function and memory, hormonal or sexual problems, even financial concerns. A survivorship care plan is created, documenting the patient’s cancer diagnosis and treatment, and the patient and all of their care providers receive copies.
Patty also works with a personal trainer to help her incorporate exercise into her post-treatment lifestyle. Not only does this have health and preventative benefits, but it also helps her overcome some of the muscle weaknesses caused by treatment.
Patty recommends advocating for yourself not only during your care, but also with your employer to be sure work is never a reason to delay or miss a treatment. She also says your attitude is paramount.
“Stay positive and don’t focus on the negative,” Patty said. “There are treatments that work. It takes longer for some than others, but doctors know so much more now than they used to.”
Ironically, Patty says she hasn’t always had such an upbeat outlook.
“Cancer changed that a lot,” she said. “I try to be more positive now. When I see an issue or a problem, I look at everything I’ve been through and think ‘I can handle this—I just beat cancer!’”
For more information about cancer treatment options with Dayton Physicians Network, call us at (937) 293-1622.
* Name changed to protect patient’s identity