As her mother is a breast cancer survivor, Paula took the proactive approach and began having mammograms early. A mammogram at Touro in February was flagged for follow-up in April. In mid-April, Paula had something else on her agenda as well — she had decided to run for judge in Civil District Court.
She returned on April 23 to hear the results of her biopsy.
“I went by myself to the appointment, even after a friend offered to go with me — I thought it was nothing,” she said. “I saw Dr. Rupley, and I asked him, ‘So are you the doctor who is going to tell me the good news?’”
When the news was that the biopsy was abnormal, Paula was certainly not prepared.
“I remember he was very compassionate,” she said. “He tried not to minimize it, and explained that it was stage 0. I remember crying and saying, ‘But I’m supposed to run for judge!’ He actually made me laugh.”
After a lumpectomy performed by Dr. Levin, Paula was scheduled for several weeks of radiation treatments. With a campaign for an October election in full swing, Paula was ready to fight her cancer — fast.
“The radiation was in and out,” she said. “The hardest part was getting up and getting there on time early in the morning, then campaigning all day.
Sr. Linda Delery has spent her life taking care of others, working as a patient liaison in Charity Hospital’s emergency room until Katrina and then as a referral coordinator at one of the local Daughters of Charity clinics. When Sr. Linda was diagnosed with metastatic cancer in May 2006, she was in need of the caring touch she was used to doling out.
The treatment plan included radiation at Touro under the care of Dr. Zakris.
“When you go through the hallways here, people talk to you,” Sr. Linda said. “It’s not like the cold, sterile hospital environments where no one acknowledges you. You can tell that it’s become part of the culture here.”
In addition, Sr. Linda said the care at has been wonderful.
“The staff is very gentle, and they are interested in not only me but in the sisters I live with,” she said. “Tommy is so lighthearted, and the staff that does the treatments do a great job. I laugh a lot when I come here, and that is needed in this department.
“And Dr. Zakris has the ability not only to teach but to reach people. Her transfer here has brought a wealth of knowledge.”
Sr. Linda said that after having four surgeries in two year, she is grateful to be as healthy as she is. When she has some extra time, she likes to walk, especially on Saturday mornings in Audubon Park.
Janet Gisleson, 66
After a mammogram, Janet Gisleson received a letter instructing her to have a follow-up appointment with Dr. Daniel Rupley at Touro’s Women’s Imaging Center. The retired teacher and turned full-time babysitter (11 of her 13 grandchildren live in the area) soon learned that she had Stage 3 breast cancer. She was referred to Dr. John Walsh for a lumpectomy.
“He was wonderful and really took his time with me,” she said. “Nobody at Touro seemed to be in a hurry.”
Dr. Walsh referred her to Dr. Scott Sonnier, an oncologist, and Dr. Ellen Zakris, a radiation oncologist.
She started radiation as soon as she healed from the lumpectomy, visiting Dr. Zakris’s office 37 times over a six-week period.
“Tommy was always cheerful, as he is with everyone,” Janet said. “The whole staff is very kind. They make an effort to schedule you at the most convenient time so that I could get in and out as quickly as possible. And Dr. Zakris is wonderful — she spent as much time with me as I needed.
“Having a background in nursing, I have more respect for the people who take care of me and am probably more observant than the average person,” she said.
When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2007, she was in a unique position, one in which she didn’t want to know too much about her cancer.
“A little knowledge can be a lot scary,” she said. “I thought to myself, ‘I can’t have cancer.’ I had no family history and had my regular mammograms. I wasn’t going to let it consume my life.”
Kaye feels strongly about putting trust in your doctors.
“You have to have a doctor you can talk to,” she said. “I really lucked out – I have some of the best doctors.”
Both chemotherapy and radiation were required as part of Kaye’s treatment plan.
“Dr. Zakris was highly recommended,” she said. “I love her and her staff. They are fabulous. When you are going through something like this, their friendliness really puts you at ease.”