Linda

Breast Cancer Survivor

Photo of Linda – Breast Cancer Survivor

I'm Linda and I'm 68 years old. Three years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. When I had my regular mammogram, something didn't look right. They wanted me to come back for another mammogram and ultrasound. That showed a possible tumor and a biopsy revealed I had cancer. I also had an MRI that gave them a better picture of what was there.

Luckily, it was Stage 1A HER2 positive and I wasn't in immediate danger. But I felt like everyone at Virginia Mason took it just as seriously as if it had been Stage 4. A meeting was quickly set up for me to talk to an oncologist, radiologist and surgeon. I felt that each one focused on me as a person, on my particular cancer and how it might be treated. They answered all my questions.

“I learned a lot from that visit. When you look at the big picture, you can see how cancer has affected my family through generations.”

I decided to have a lumpectomy and that went well. I had a one-time intraoperative radiation treatment and was only in the hospital overnight. I did have some problems with the follow-up treatment because my wound was proving difficult to heal. It was a couple of months before I was able to receive chemotherapy once a week and had some difficulties with that, but a nurse was always available for me to talk to.

One of the oddest things was that I didn't like the taste of silverware during my treatment. So I had to eat every meal with plastic utensils. But the good thing was that I didn't eat as much and lost 55 pounds. I love to cook and bake and I knew I was too heavy.

Today, I am eating much better and I feel better because of it. I have rheumatoid arthritis and I need to stay active, so I exercise by doing water aerobics. My family has been terrific through all of this. When I was in treatment, my sister-in-law would visit every Tuesday. She knew I wouldn't be feeling well that day because of the chemotherapy and she would bring me things I could eat.

Just recently, my daughter, Traci, was diagnosed with breast cancer. When she found out about it, she knew immediately she wanted to be treated by the same doctors at Virginia Mason who treated me. It was also recommended that she visit Virginia Mason's genetic counselor — and we went together.

I learned a lot from that visit. When you look at the big picture, you can see how cancer has affected my family through generations. I suppose that's true for a lot of families, but it was surprising to realize how many of my relatives have had cancer.

I'm so glad that Virginia Mason was there for me and Traci. And in 2005, it was there for my husband, Otis, as well. He had prostate cancer and is doing well today — and so am I. Otis, Traci and I have all had the best care possible. I can't say enough good things about the people at Virginia Mason who took such good care of us.