When Kristin Sad noticed a lump in her right breast in June 2017, she was not surprised that the diagnosis would be cancer. Her maternal aunts had gotten the same diagnosis when they reached their 60s, the same age when Kristin noticed her lump. Within a few days, a mammogram imaged the lump and a biopsy with a clinical diagnosis of stage 2 breast cancer confirmed Kristin’s suspicion.
While Kristin was not surprised, the confirmation that she had cancer was frightening and the beginning of six months of treatment that would be life changing.
“It really smacks you,” Kristin says. “In the beginning, there were times I was really scared. I cried, and my husband would hold me close. But, having cancer changed me. I am more appreciative of the good things in my life and don’t get distracted by small annoyances.”
Shortly after her diagnosis, Kristin saw Julie Campbell, MD, an oncologist at the Cayuga Cancer Center, who has clinical and research interests in breast cancer. She reviewed the cancer and treatment options with Kristin and encouraged her to seek another doctor’s opinion. After seeing Kristin and checking her medical records, the second oncologist recommended the same treatment plan that Dr. Campbell had presented.
Getting a second opinion made Kristin more confident in her treatment decision. On July 27, Cora Foster, MD, removed Kristin’s tumor and three lymph nodes in a day-surgery lumpectomy procedure at Cayuga Medical Center. By late after-noon, Kristin’s family was taking her home to rest and recover.
“I found that treatment protocols for a specific type of cancer are similar. It’s the support system that can be different, and that is where Ithaca excels,” Kristin says.
She found Dr. Campbell’s approach to cancer treatment also considered the care and support Kristin would need in other areas of her life including family, work, and acting with Ithaca-area theater groups.
“I always felt she focused on me as a person and not just a patient with cancer. She took time to find out about my interests,” Kristin recalls.
Betty McEver, RN, BSN, OCN, CRN, a nurse navigator with the Cayuga Cancer Center, anticipated Kristin’s concerns and prepared her for how chemotherapy and radiation treatments might affect her.
“I would lose my hair, lose interest in food, and just not feel like myself while having chemo every three weeks for 18 weeks. Nurse Betty, Jilian Wheeler [RN, OCN], and other nurses in the chemo suite helped me get through some difficult days,” Kristin says.
Kristin also learned about the range of assistance and support programs at the Cayuga Cancer Center and at the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes. She valued having so many options but found herself relying on her network of friends and family for help and support.
After completing chemotherapy, Kristin had five weeks of radiation therapy and finished her treatments in January 2018. By March she was back at work at Elmira Savings Bank in Ithaca where her supportive manager and co-workers helped her take a six-month leave.
“I have been fortunate. Cancer is scary, but I had a lot of wonderful people to help me on that journey,” she says.