After a career as a flight attendant, Heather moved from Denver to Show Low with her husband, Dale, and two daughters to spend more time together. Two years later, everything changed.
GOING TO SOCCER games and Girl Scout meetings with her girls, Heather reveled in being a stay-at-home mom. During weekends and breaks, she and her family would steal away to the woods to camp and ride all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Life was simpler and good, until 2011, when Heather found out she had breast cancer.
Heather’s first instinct was to protect her family time. She didn’t want to travel elsewhere for treatment, but she knew she wanted quality care. Then, she met Snehal Thakkar, M.D., oncologist with Summit Healthcare Regional Medical Center.
“Keeping my children’s lives as normal as possible was my top priority,” Heather says. “After meeting with Dr. Thakkar, I knew I could have the best of both worlds right at home, and I stopped looking elsewhere.”
Together, Heather and Dr. Thakkar set up a treatment plan that involved two rounds of chemotherapy drugs to reduce her tumor prior to surgery.
HEATHER’S JOURNEY BACK TO HEALTH
“After the first round of chemo, I felt good and even went running,” Heather says. “The second round was a little tough. I was down and out for about two days and lost my hair. I wasn’t going to let that stop me from celebrating Thanksgiving with my in-laws, riding ATVs over the holidays and keeping Christmas traditions alive for my girls and husband.”
After the new year, Heather underwent a double mastectomy (having both breasts removed) as a next line of cancer treatment. Brian Olack, M.D., a plastic surgeon affiliated with Summit Healthcare, performed her surgery and worked closely with Dr. Thakkar.
Soon after surgery, results showed cancer had spread to Heather’s liver.
“I remember getting the results of my liver biopsy,” Heather says. “Dale was out of town on business, and I didn’t know what to do and felt at a loss. Dr. Thakkar stepped in and made sure his staff knew that talking with my husband was his first priority. This reaffirmed what I already knew: Summit Healthcare was my second home. I knew this was where I wanted to continue treatment.”
After two months receiving radiation treatment from Victor Henderson, M.D., a radiation oncologist affiliated with Summit Healthcare, Heather received news in November 2012 that her imaging results were clean.
Now in remission, Heather makes the most of her family time and is always looking for outdoor adventures.