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Lynne Alston - Patient Story

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"My message is clear: make mammograms a priority, have these conversations with your sisters, aunts, mothers, friends and family. Make each other accountable and make sure that they all go get a mammogram."

— Lynne Alston, Breast Cancer Patient

I was over 40, active, healthy, and had never smoked when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am now dedicated to getting the word out to other women, particularly women of color, to make sure they're getting annual mammograms, and to ask questions about their family’s history of cancer. My message is clear: make mammograms a priority, have these conversations with your sisters, aunts, mothers, friends and family. Make each other accountable and make sure that they all go get a mammogram.

My experience with cancer began in 2014 when I discovered a golf-ball-sized lump in my right breast. I found the lump after experiencing pain and tenderness when a young woman I was mentoring gave me a strong hug of appreciation. I was scared and anxious and immediately began calling local hospitals to schedule a mammogram. That turned into a three-step process over several weeks.

First I had the mammogram, then a 3D mammogram, and then a biopsy that diagnosed the stage 3 cancer. I underwent a lumpectomy at the same local hospital, but I still had lingering doubts about the course of treatment that would follow. A cousin of mine put me in touch with a cancer specialist in Texas, who recommended that I seek a second opinion.

Because I had heard good things about Fox Chase Cancer Center, I looked at the website and was impressed by how easy it was to navigate. I called and was directed to a nurse navigator who set up an appointment for me the next day with Lori Goldstein, MD, FASCO, a medical oncologist. I acted quickly, retrieving my records, scans, and films from the community hospital for my appointment the next day at Fox Chase.

Dr. Goldstein impressed me from the first appointment as being very professional, knowledgeable, and competent. I knew I was in good hands. She reviewed by records and did an examination, which determined that I had stage 2, not stage 3, breast cancer.

Since I was very frightened by the diagnosis of breast cancer, I continued to do my own research about treatment and clinical trials. I found one that seemed a good fit for me, but Dr. Goldstein found another one that was more suitable and would include eight rounds of chemotherapy. I enrolled and started the treatment. I had some of the common side effects of chemotherapy, but they were all manageable.

After I completed the chemotherapy, Dr. Goldstein referred me to Stephanie E. Weiss, MD, a radiation oncologist at Fox Chase. Dr. Weiss determined that, because of the size of my breasts, I should receive radiation therapy at a hospital in Center City Philadelphia. Dr. Weiss said she wanted me to the get the best care and that another radiologist would be better suited to treat me. Her selflessness was one of the most moving experiences for me. She would rather discharge me than give me care that wasn’t going to be in my best interest. I will always think that is one of the most admirable things about my Fox Chase experience.

I was able to return to work several weeks after I completed radiation treatment and to resume the life I love—visiting family, entertaining, dining out, and spending time with loved ones. I still have periodic follow-up appointments with Dr. Goldstein, and I continue to do very well, to eat a healthy diet, and to remain mindful of my health. I plan to volunteer at Fox Chase as a community ambassador, and I talk to others and am writing a book about my experiences.

I think back and know that Fox Chase has been a blessing. I enrolled in a clinical trial, and truly know in my heart that the doctors at Fox Chase care about their patients. I am living proof.

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