Proud to be a Breast Cancer Survivor
In her free time, Jeanne Eddington enjoys riding her bike and walking in fundraisers, such as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. It never crossed her mind that she would one day be a breast cancer survivor, and this race will hold new meaning to her. Eddington faithfully receives her mammogram every year. Two years ago, she went in for her mammography appointment, and they found white spots in her mammogram. The spots were calcium deposits, and it wasn’t a concern. The following year, she saw white spots again on her breast ultrasound. She was told to go to the Imaging Center for further testing. Eddington thought it was calcium deposits again. Unfortunately, she was told it was breast cancer.
On June 20, 2018, Eddington was diagnosed with HER2-negative breast cancer in her left breast. HER2-negative breast cancer has little or no HER2 protein, which means cancer cells grow more slowly than HER2-positive. Cancer cells are also less likely to spread to other parts of the body. “It took a while to register that I had breast cancer. I asked the radiologist if he had the right person. I sat there and cried. I went in the parking lot and called my job and cried again,” says Eddington.
On July 2, Eddington scheduled her first appointment with Breast Surgical Oncologist John Colfry, MD. He reassured Eddington that she was in good hands. He gave her two options: lumpectomy or mastectomy. “That was the only decision I made on my own. After making this decision, I put my care into my doctors’ hands,” says Eddington. At the end of July, Eddington had a lumpectomy to remove the cancer from her left breast.
The Best Support System
During her follow up care, Dr. Colfry ordered an Oncotype DX test for Eddington. The test helps doctors to determine the risk of recurrence with breast cancer and if the patient should have chemotherapy. Eddington’s levels on her test came back extremely high, which means she had a high chance of reoccurrence. Eddington met with Hematologist Oncologist George Zacharia, MD, and she started chemotherapy. “I continued to work during this time. I would schedule off from work on Fridays for my chemotherapy appointments,” says Eddington. “I worked in a clinic, and the nurses I worked with would constantly monitor me. They were very sympathetic and caring towards me.” After chemotherapy, Eddington received radiation therapy for six weeks.
After chemotherapy and radiation therapy, Eddington started going to the Touro Cancer Rehabilitation Center. The goal of cancer rehabilitation is to help patients return to the highest level of function and independence possible while improving the overall quality of life physically, emotionally, and socially. The program is designed to meet the needs of the individual patient, depending on the specific type of cancer and treatment they had.
Moreover, the program offers lymphedema treatment. Whenever the normal drainage pattern in the lymph nodes are disturbed or damaged, severe swelling of the arm and abnormal collection of fluid may occur. This is called lymphedema. Eddington received lymphedema treatment due to having several of her lymph nodes removed and from radiation therapy.
“I wanted to get back to exercising and my normal life,” says Eddington. “I’m working on getting my balance back as well.” Eddington raves about the therapists in the Touro Cancer Rehabilitation Program. “My biggest goal is to walk in the Susan G. Komen race again as a breast cancer survivor,” says Eddington.
Eddington has touched every aspect of the Cancer Care Program at Touro Infirmary. Touro’s Cancer Program is accredited by the Commission on Cancer, which is recognized as the gold standard in cancer care. The program provides comprehensive care and support throughout every step of the patients’ cancer journey. Licensed Professional Counselor Vera Deluca persuaded Eddington to join the Cancer Survivorship Support Group at Touro Infirmary. “After retiring from my job, I became a little depressed. I lost my support system at my job,” says Eddington. The support group has really helped Eddington to cope with her life after breast cancer.
Eddington also created a Survivorship Care Plan with Cancer Survivorship Coordinator Paula Harrelson. “Vera and Paula are so supportive and encouraging. I am grateful for them both,” says Eddington. The Cancer Survivorship Program at Touro gives patients a chance to meet one-on-one with an oncology nurse that specializes in addressing specific issues survivors may face during treatment and in the years following. The support groups include the Cancer Survivorship Support Group and the Gynecologic Cancer Support Group. The group provides mental, emotional, spiritual, and social support from the time a patient is diagnosed through their treatment and beyond.
Eddington is dedicated to living a healthy life without a breast cancer reoccurrence. She has decided to continue her care at Touro Infirmary because she is pleased with the treatment that she has received at Touro. “Everybody is fantastic. The doctors, therapists, counselors and staff at Touro are all amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better team at Touro,” says Eddington. With National Cancer Survivors Day on June 2nd, Eddington looks forward to celebrating life and continuing to share her story of survivorship. “I am proud to be a breast cancer survivor and a Touro patient.”