Lois Tuma got excellent cancer care, from every angle.
Lois is glad she opted for a 3D mammogram: It caught her cancer early.
There was a spot on her annual mammogram. After a follow-up ultrasound and a biopsy, Lois was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Triple Negative, Stage One – an aggressive cancer, caught early. The Breast Care nurse navigator set up an appointment with oncologist Dr. Jasmine Kamboj to make a treatment plan.
“Everything is frightening because it’s related to cancer,” Lois says. “Every step feels scary.”
Lois’ plan involved chemotherapy and a double mastectomy. Lois had so many questions. The nurse navigator got answers. “I asked, ‘What does a mastectomy scar look like?’” Lois recalls. “One of the women in the Breast Cancer Support Group showed me her scars. It made it less frightening.”
During chemotherapy, Cancer Care & Infusion Center staff “explained every step they were doing,” Lois recalls. “Dr. Kamboj, the nurse navigator, the nurses all took such good care of me.”
They took good care of Lois’ husband Ray, too. “They showed him how to make me comfortable. They made him feel welcome and engaged, that we were all part of the team,” Lois says. “It felt good that he and I were working towards a goal together.”
After chemotherapy, Lois had surgery with Dr. Ashley Marek. “When the oncologist and surgeon both tell you that they got it all – that was very calming,” Lois recalls.
The nurse navigator coordinated all the elements of Lois’ care. “She helped me understand what the doctor said and would follow up after chemo treatments to see how I was feeling, how I was eating and sleeping. The staff always made themselves available to me, whenever I called with whatever questions I had. When you’re crying, they gently hand you the Kleenex, wait for you to compose yourself, then move forward and walk beside you for what you need.”
The Breast Cancer Support Group was a key part of her care team, too: “They were very forthcoming about things like hair loss and helped me prepare for it. And they had helpful tips for nausea and other side effects, things they knew from their own experience.”
“The staff and support group were so open and caring and supportive,” Lois says. “Everyone at NH+C treated me so well, I can’t image going anyplace else. I’m grateful to everyone at Northfield Hospital and the Cancer Care center who helped me and my family through that very frightening time.”
Lois is now cancer-free. Her advice for someone with a new diagnosis: “When you hear ‘cancer,’ your mind goes to worst possible scenarios. Don’t go there. Don’t Google it. Trust the nurse navigator as your source of information. They’re there to hold your hand and explain everything to you and your family.
“Above all, get that mammogram. Get 3D: It’s worth the small extra expense if insurance doesn’t cover it.”
Hindsight, after all, is the clearest angle.
For more information: Cancer Care & Infusion Center and Breast Care Center