When Lynda was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 66, she was surprised, but not shocked, because she lost her mother to the disease.
"My mother had a mastectomy at 42," Lynda explains, "There was very little support back then, and when she developed cancer in her other breast, she didn't deal with it until it was too late. She died of stage four breast cancer at age 70."
Fortunately, cancer diagnosis and treatment options have changed, and Lynda's cancer experience was vastly different from her mother's. Thanks to her annual mammogram, Lynda's cancer was caught early and was treated with a lumpectomy (removal of the tumor from the breast) with sentinel node mapping, followed by 30 radiation treatments. "Being alone in the room for radiation therapy was especially difficult for me," says Lynda. "But everyone, including my radiation oncologist William Rate, MD, PhD, the technicians and staff, did everything they possibly could to help me."
With the guidance of medical oncologist Sarah Goodyear, MD, oncology nurse navigator Kathy Nellett, RN, OCN, CBCN, and the support and survivorship resources from Doylestown Health support groups, Nutrition Services and the Cancer Fit program, Lynda had everything she needed for a strong recovery from start to finish.
However, since breast cancer appeared to run in her family, Lynda wanted to learn more about her family's risk for cancer — and how to prevent it. Lynda's breast surgeon Donna Angotti, MD, referred her to cancer risk evaluation services for a comprehensive evaluation.
When program coordinator Cheryl Knight, MS, a licensed, board-certified genetic counselor, met with Lynda, she not only took the time to discuss her recent diagnosis, but also to learn more about Lynda as a person — thoroughly reviewing Lynda's lifestyle, health history, family history and risk factors. After their discussion, Lynda decided to take the next step and undergo genetic testing. The results showed a significant mutation in her ATM gene, which is associated with higher risk for female breast cancer and pancreatic cancer.
"Now, my daughter can decide if she wants to have the test," says Lynda, "We can't remove the gene, but we can make lifestyle changes and do what we can to monitor for the conditions we know about." Today, with regular workouts at the gym and daily walks with her dog, Dinky, Lynda is paving the way for a healthy future.
Lynda's Story: More than Breast Cancer [Video]
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About Doylestown Health Cancer Institute
Doylestown Health Cancer Institute offers patients the quality care they expect from a leader in cancer diagnosis and treatment - close to home. Accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, and a member of Jefferson's Sidney Kimmel Cancer Network, our board-certified physicians and oncology-certified practitioners provide comprehensive, coordinated care and services for the full range of cancer diagnoses including breast, lung, urologic, gastrointestinal and other cancers.