Lee Adamiec – Breast Cancer
In the summer of 2013, my PCP suggested I schedule a mammogram since it had been six years since my last one. Based on the mammogram results, the radiologist asked me to have a breast ultrasound that day and then, eventually, a biopsy. Five days after my biopsy, my results came back positive and my doctor called to tell me I had breast cancer. I'll never forget that day. After I got off the phone, I cried. My husband of 14 years put his arms around me and said, ”We're going to get through this.”
The radiologist had recommended I meet with Tony Maalouf, MD, a general surgeon at Butler Health System. From there, my treatment plan came together quickly. Dr. Maalouf referred me to Dr. Rushir J. Choksi at Butler Health System Medical Oncology, in partnership with UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. Dr. Maalouf and Dr. Choksi clearly and thoroughly explained my treatment plan and what I could expect during my procedures.
In September 2013, I had a mastectomy of my right breast at Butler Memorial Hospital. During my surgery, I had three lymph nodes removed and the tumor was invading into the muscle. I was referred to Dr. Emilia Diego, a breast surgeon at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, to have another resection. During that procedure, Dr. Diego removed 23 of my lymph nodes while Dr. Carolyn De La Cruz, a plastic surgeon also from Magee, completed reconstructive surgery. After I had healed, I began chemotherapy.
I had my first chemotherapy treatment with Dr. Choksi two days before Christmas. During treatments, I experienced some side effects, including numbness in my hands and feet, nausea, and a drop in white blood cells. The two most profound side effects included extreme blurred vision and loss of my ability to taste foods. When I expressed concern about the side effects, Dr. Choksi closely monitored my health and called me personally to see how I was doing. You won't find too many doctors who do that. I continued to see Dr. Choksi for six months of chemotherapy. Every step of the way, Dr. Choksi's team carefully explained everything. I can't speak highly enough about them. Dr. Choksi has never made me feel like he's rushing me. He answers my questions patiently and explains everything in detail. He truly is amazing.
Following my last round of chemotherapy, I began 33 daily radiation treatments with Dr. Hung-Chi Ho at Butler Health System Radiation Oncology, in partnership with UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. Even though it's been hard at times, I'm doing well. Connie Davis, a UPMC oncology case manager, calls me every month to check in on me. She keeps me positive. It's been wonderful to have that level of support.
I try to stay positive and occupy myself with my favorite hobbies. I enjoy painting; I find it relaxing and therapeutic. It allows me to use my hands and keeps me mobile. I do what I can to keep myself going. I'm trying not to let cancer knock me down.