Overcoming Breast Cancer: One Woman’s Story
- Posted on: Dec 31 2018
When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Patti Bird found the solutions she needed at Summit Healthcare.
PATTI WAS INSTALLING a windshield in a car with her fiancé, Brad Anderson, when she first felt pain.
“I was climbing on a trunk and hit my chest, which really hurt,” Patti says. “I thought that maybe I bruised myself, but when I got home that evening, I felt a huge lump in my breast. As I was feeling more tissue, I found another one.”
To further investigate the sore spot in her breast, Patti visited Brad’s physician at Summit Healthcare, family medicine physician Craig Brady, M.D. Although Dr. Brady encouraged Patti to think positively, he recommended she have a diagnostic mammogram to investigate the suspicious tissue.
From Diagnosis to Treatment
Diane Dunkleman, mammogram technician at Summit Healthcare, guided Patti through the diagnostic exam, easing her anxiety as she administered the screening.
“Diane made me feel very comfortable and kept asking me if I was in any pain,” Patti says. “After the screening was complete, I could tell she knew there was cancer. She didn’t seem to want to let go of me.”
Following the mammogram, Patti had a breast ultrasound, with Brad and Diane at her side the entire time. The radiologist reading the ultrasound confirmed that Patti did, in fact, have breast cancer—specifically, grade 3 ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which meant her cancer was more likely to recur even after surgical removal.
Patti received her official diagnosis on Sept. 21, 2017. Within days, Summit Healthcare general surgeon Nathaniel Wolkenfeld, M.D., performed a double mastectomy to remove the dangerous tissue.
“Patti was lucky enough that the surgical team was able to get all of her cancer out through surgery,” says Mary Ann Andresen, lead mammographer at Summit Healthcare. “She did not need radiation afterward, but because she was diagnosed with DCIS grade 3, her treatment plan includes chemotherapy to reduce the risk of recurrence.”
Breast Reconstruction and Recovery—Close to Home
Following Patti’s mastectomy, Summit Healthcare plastic surgeon Brian Olack, M.D., began breast reconstruction, a process that spanned roughly six months. The time necessary to do the reconstruction well was worth the wait, in Patti’s opinion. In addition, Summit Healthcare oncologist Snehal Thakkar, M.D., has treated Patti throughout her recovery.
Patti could not be more pleased with the care she has received.
“I feel very blessed that all of this happened here in Show Low,” Patti says. “I have received the best possible treatment here, where you are not just a number. You are a family member.”
As she moves into a future free from chemotherapy treatments, Patti has a renewed perspective on the importance of regular breast cancer screenings.
“I encourage every woman to do regular self-checks and to have screenings as recommended by her doctor,” Patti says. “This is your health and your life. It’s not something to be looked at lightly.”