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Kristie's Story

Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center

Kristie

Getting a second mammogram soon after her first regularly scheduled mammogram was nothing new for Kristie. Women with mammographically dense breasts like hers frequently return for additional imaging. She didn’t think anything of it, especially since she had no family history of breast cancer.

In February 2015, Kristie’s gynecologist had given her a prescription for a breast mammogram and an ultrasound, which would hone in on the specific areas of her breasts where her screening mammogram showed irregularities due to the increased density. However, Kristie’s mammogram and ultrasound results were unlike those in previous years.The ultrasound confirmed a nodule in her breast. That following week, Kristie met with breast surgeon Catherine Gleason, MD, for a breast biopsy. The results showed she had stage II triple negative invasive cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, triple negative breast cancer accounts for about 12% of all breast cancers and tends to be more aggressive than other types.

“I wasn’t surprised to learn my results. I already had a suspicion something was wrong and was mentally and emotionally prepared,” explained Kristie. “When Dr. Gleason told me I had cancer, I was actually kidding around. She must’ve thought I was in complete denial!”

Kristie today

Kristie, a self-proclaimed type-A personality, knew she had to move forward, get treatment and take it from there. “I scheduled everything and just kept going. I treated my cancer like any other illness. This wasn’t going to stop me. I had family and friends to support me. They would frequently check on me, bring fabulous meals over, and send thoughtful cards and packages. I was truly blessed” 

Kristie’s breast surgeon referred her to medical oncologist Myron Bednar, MD, at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center, a Fox Chase Cancer Center Partner. As a Partner, Hunterdon brings new advances in cancer care, access to clinical trials and more treatment options than many other community hospitals.

“My treatment plan included chemotherapy and surgery. Because triple negative breast cancer can be more aggressive and difficult to treat, it was important for me, my family and friends to obtain a second opinion,” said Kristie. “Dr. Bednar supported me in my decision, and I felt reassured that Dr. Bednar’s treatment recommendations were in line with those I received through my second opinion. Dr. Bednar’s treatment plan was the best and most aggressive treatment for me and the type of cancer I had – all conveniently located at Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center.”

“Although people have their unique experience with cancer, we can learn from each other.” 

Beginning March 2015, Kristie had two lymph nodes removed and then underwent 22 weeks of chemotherapy under the care of Dr. Bednar. “Throughout my treatment, I kept going about life as usual – working full-time, exercising regularly, playing with my dogs and enjoying time with family and friends,” said Kristie. “I also had the pleasure of meeting other patients who also received their chemo on Thursday mornings. I referred to our group as ‘the knitting group.’ It was a terrific support system. The entire staff at Hunterdon was excellent and endearing. They really care!”

Kristie often joined Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center’s bi-monthly breast cancer support group. “Although people have their unique experience with cancer, we can learn from each other,” said Kristie. “I made new lasting friendships and learned so much from these other amazing women in the group.”

Kristie completed her chemotherapy treatment in late August and had nipple sparing surgery and a double mastectomy in September. Nipple sparing mastectomy is the removal of all of the breast tissue, without removal of any of the skin or the nipple or the dark skin around it called the areola. As a result, the breast looks unchanged and intact.

According to the American Cancer Society, triple negative breast cancer accounts for about 12% of all breast cancers and tends to be more aggressive than other types.

 

Kristie made a successful recovery from her double mastectomy. In February 2016, she underwent another surgery for breast implants. “I’m so thankful for an excellent outcome,” she said. “My experience at Hunterdon was wonderful. My team took the time to listen and explain everything from beginning to end.  I could not have asked for a better team of doctors, nurses and support staff.”

Today, Kristie visits her medical oncologists every six months and takes medication to strengthen her bones and inhibit the risk of breast cancer recurrence. “I want my experience with cancer to be a call to action. I urge everyone to get their mammogram, colonoscopy, any screening they’re supposed to,” said Kristie. “Getting a diagnosis of cancer does not mean the end, but it really is the beginning of a new journey, and if my journey inspires others to not be afraid, to get tested, and to not put life on hold should they start their own cancer journey, then sharing my story is well worth it.” 

Learn more at
1-888-788-1260
hunterdonhealthcare.org/service/cancer-care/

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