Charlette Gray - Patient Story

“They understand that dealing with cancer is stressful and they do what they can to ease that stress. This is not always the case in a healthcare setting.”

— Charlette Gray, Breast Cancer Patient

I was on a business trip the summer of 2011 when I noticed a lump in my breast, so I made an appointment with my internist when I returned home. An ultrasound detected the lump, and within just a few days a biopsy confirmed lobular breast cancer. I quickly arranged a consultation with a surgeon in my hometown that same week, who advised me of my options.

My internist recommended I seek a second opinion at Fox Chase Cancer Center before moving ahead with treatment. I was lucky that the Fox Chase team reviewed my test and biopsy results within a very short period of time. I met with a team of breast specialists—medical oncologist Dr. Lori J Goldstein, surgical oncologist Dr. Richard J. Bleicher, and radiation oncologist Dr. Penny Anderson— who developed my treatment plan.

The first step in treatment was a lumpectomy, and then the pathologists recommended an axillary dissection. Dr. Bleicher was not rushed when he explained my options, but instead gave me time to ask questions and understand my diagnosis. After the second procedure, he was great at alleviating my anxieties and clarifying questions that arose from some erroneous information I may gotten from the media or the Internet.

It is hard to articulate all the feelings you have when you are diagnosed with cancer. At my first visit with Dr. Goldstein she was professional and her caring demeanor was just what I needed given my personality. She answered all of my questions and I immediately felt that I could trust her to handle my cancer with honesty, not sugar-coating anything, but in a compassionate and kind manner.

One moment in particular stands out for me about Dr. Goldstein. I had started to lose my hair and I had a consultation with her. As I made my way back through the waiting room I saw her again. She walked me down to the boutique that was opening soon and talked how it came about and its purpose. For her to take time out of her busy schedule to do that was unbelievable to me. I can’t tell you how much that little walk did to lift my sprits on an otherwise rough day.

The care provided at Fox Chase by the doctors and nurses made the whole ordeal of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation more bearable. They understand that dealing with cancer is stressful and they do what they can to ease that stress. This is not always the case in a healthcare setting.

I am the daughter of a mother who waged a long and valiant fight against cancer before it overcame her. I am the mother of a daughter who I pray will never have to face this fight. For these reasons alone, I want to do what I can to further cancer research. For me, that includes participating in clinical trials.  In the fall of 2014 I participated in a clinical trial testing whether metformin, a drug for diabetes, could prevent the recurrence of breast cancer.

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