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Ellen Anthonisen - Patient Story

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"The staff at Fox Chase's warmth, coupled with their expertise, is priceless."

— Ellen Anthonisen, Breast Cancer Survivor

I discovered a lump in my breast only one month after a mammogram. A breast surgeon I had known for many years performed a biopsy and confirmed that that the tumor was malignant.

My diagnosis with cancer at age 75 was not shocking to me, given my family history. My mother underwent a mastectomy at age 80, and my sister died at age 42. My sister’s daughter lost a difficult battle with liver cancer when she was 47. Even though I don’t carry the BRCA gene, it was obvious that cancer runs strong in our family, and I had made it part of my routine to examine my breasts and to encourage my friends to do the same. Women need to know what their breast feel like; otherwise, they might not know something is wrong.

When I received my breast cancer diagnosis, I knew I wanted to be treated at Fox Chase Cancer Center. I was aware that it was a National Cancer Institute and a research facility. My breast surgeon called Dr. Lori Goldstein, a medical oncologist at Fox Chase, and set up an appointment for me.

I had done my own research and learned that my outcome would be the same whether I had a lumpectomy and radiation or a radical mastectomy. I had decided that I would opt for a lumpectomy and radiation rather a mastectomy because I didn’t want to deal with reconstruction at my age. I underwent the lumpectomy and, after I recovered, Dr. Goldstein said that I would not need chemotherapy.

I next met with a former radiation oncologist at Fox Chase who told me about Fox Chase Buckingham, which was a new facility only 15 minutes from my home. Although the short drive made sense to me, I wanted assurance that the Buckingham facility reflected the main center’s philosophy and expertise. As soon as I walked into Fox Chase Buckingham, I knew I was in a great place. They had the most advanced treatment technology, and everyone was so friendly. They even remember your name.

My radiation oncologist Dr. Shelly Hayes had trained at Fox Chase’s main campus for four years, and my clinical nurse coordinator had worked there for 20 years, so my decision to get radiation therapy at Buckingham was a no-brainer. Dr. Hayes was young, talented, and a lovely and caring human being—a cracker jack, as I like to say. I received radiation through Intensity-Modulated Ratiation Therapy (IMRT) over a six-week period, and the side effects were minimal.

I would gladly have driven to the main campus in Philadelphia, if needed, but I was able to leave home and arrive at Buckingham within 15 minutes or less. Being able to drive myself without getting into any kind of traffic was empowering. It enabled me to be less tired and free of traffic worries. I kept my regular routine and, as a result, felt healthy and more in control of my life.

I have been cancer free for eight years and continue to enjoy life with my husband, George, and my son. They are both artists, and I manage their collections and promote their shows. I also enjoy spending time with my daughter, who is a paraeducator and an art teacher and puppeteer at an art gallery; my son-in-law; and my granddaughter, Ursula.

With help from Fox Chase, I am thankful that I am able to continue to have wonderful adventures and enjoy my life. Should it become necessary, I would not hesitate to return there for treatment. The staff at Fox Chase was warm, compassionate, and genuinely caring. That warmth, coupled with their expertise, is priceless.

Hear Ellen Anthonisen talk about her treatment at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

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