As a 33-year-old mother of two, breast cancer was the farthest thing from Michele Ranzino’s mind. She had no family history of breast cancer, which is why she wasn’t that concerned when she found a lump in her breast. Her OB/GYN referred her to Touro for her mammogram and biopsy. Michele was shocked to find out she had stage 2 Breast Cancer. After undergoing a lumpectomy, and months of chemotherapy and radiation, she was in remission. Over the next twenty years, Michele came to Touro for her annual imaging services consisting of mammogram, chest x-ray, and breast ultrasound. As new technological advances occurred, Touro’s imaging team recommended a 3T Breast MRI as part of her annual imaging screenings.
“I never left the imaging center without talking to the radiologist. My entire care team was very involved in my annual screenings and would explain to me what they are looking for and the importance of this monitoring,” explains Michele.
Michele’s course of treatment is part of the High-Risk Surveillance Program. At Touro, this imaging surveillance program is recommended for women with a history of breast cancer or patients with genetic markers that increase their risk of developing breast cancer.
When Michele came to the Women’s Imaging Center in October of 2020 for her annual screening, she expected the appointment to have the same results as her appointments in years past. “Usually, the radiologist comes in and says everything looks clear, we will see you next visit, but this time was different. He pulled up my scans and pointed to a very small white spot that was difficult to see. He said we need to do a biopsy,” explained Michele.
After performing an MRI guided biopsy, Michele was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, also known as Stage Zero or pre-cancer. Twenty years after her initial diagnoses, her cancer had returned. “I assumed that since it was stage zero that we would just monitor it, but my oncologist explained to me that this is the time for treatment. It was detected at such an early stage which gave me the best treatment options,” said Michele.
Michele says the collaboration amongst all her Touro doctors made her feel at ease and confident in her care plan. Her oncologist scheduled her with Breast Surgical Oncologist, Dr. John Colfry. Michele underwent a nipple sparing double mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery.
“I love Dr. Colfry,” explains Michele. “I was really anxious before the surgery and what the recovery would be like and the time spent in hospital. Dr. Colfry told me I was going to be ok and that he was going to take care of me. And I feel lucky, 20 years ago when I was first diagnosed, they didn’t have the technology they do today. They wouldn’t have found my cancer this early.”
Michele is now cancer free and an advocate for early detection and mammograms.
“I tell my daughter and I tell all the women that I know- get your mammogram! It can save your life.”