Renee Dratch - Patient Story

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"Dr. Boraas made me feel like I was her only patient."

— Renee Dratch, Mother, Breast Cancer Survivor

At 41 years old, I was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), the most common type of noninvasive breast cancer. It was July 2011.

Renee's daughters held a lollipop fundraiser to "Blow Out Breast Cancer."Renee's daughters held a lollipop fundraiser to "Blow Out Breast Cancer."

I had been getting two mammograms each year from 2008 to 2010 due to abnormalities, so I already had a hunch that a breast cancer diagnosis could be in my future. In the summer of 2010 my doctor said I could return to annual mammograms because nothing had changed. When the annual mammogram in 2011 looked suspicious, the doctor ordered a biopsy and then called to tell me that I had breast cancer. My husband, Todd, and I decided not to tell our two daughters about my diagnosis until we had an action plan and knew that I would be OK.

My mother-in-law, Barbara, researched the area’s top hospitals for breast cancer and recommended that I contact Marcia Boraas, MD, FACS, a surgical oncologist who specializes in treating patients with breast cancer at Fox Chase Cancer Center. In August, I met with Dr. Boraas and her nurse Barbara Cunningham. They explained that women with my diagnosis are at higher risk for a recurrence of cancer or for development of new breast cancer than women who have never had breast cancer.

I burst into tears when I heard I had breast cancer, but I never cried another tear after that. Once I digested the news and learned more about my diagnosis, I was grateful that it was not invasive and that surgery would most likely provide me with a cure. When I saw other patients at Fox Chase, I knew that my situation could have been worse.

Dr. Boraas explained my options for treatment: a lumpectomy to remove the tumor followed by five years of drug therapy with tamoxifen to reduce the risk of recurrence, or a mastectomy to remove the breast followed by reconstruction. I opted for the lumpectomy after thinking about the options and talking to lots of people. Unfortunately, the lumpectomy procedure was unable to achieve clean margins and some cancer tissue remained.

I then decided to have a double mastectomy in October 2011. When Dr. Boraas told me that there had been more disease than had been expected, I knew a mastectomy was the right decision. She called me herself, spent a lot of time on the phone, and made me feel as though I was her only patient. When I recovered from surgery, I was ready to start the breast reconstruction process with Sameer A. Patel, MD, FACS, and two of his fantastic physician assistants.

Before the reconstructive process began, my doctors took time to talk to me. I was treated with respect and knew that everyone really listened to me and cared about me. I asked Dr. Patel the same question each week for seven weeks, and each time he answered me like it was the first time I had asked. He was so patient. Deep down I knew I would be OK. I felt it in my heart and in my head that I was in the right place with the best team.

Each time I went to Fox Chase, I found it easier to get around. I could ask 15 people how to get to my appointment, and each time everyone smiled and helped me. I rarely had to wait more than a few minutes for any appointment.

My last reconstructive procedure was in May 2012. Within a week I was up and driving. I was working part-time, playing tennis, cooking dinner every night, and hopping on the treadmill in my spare time. My daughters began sixth and eighth grade in September that year. When my oldest daughter, Jessica, became a Bat Mitzvah in the fall, she raised money for breast cancer research at Fox Chase. I was so proud of her.

I am very fortunate that my cancer was detected in its earliest stage when it was most treatable. I am thankful that I live near a fabulous center like Fox Chase. Every single person I met there was so reassuring, caring, and nice. I definitely made the right decision.

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