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Complete Breast Cancer Treatment…Just 15 Minutes From Home

When I went for my routine mammogram in June 2015, I didn’t expect it would change my life. But it did. I got the call from one of my radiologists, Dr. Ehrlich, at Penn State Health St. Joseph. He saw something that concerned him and wanted me to come in for a follow-up. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the team at St. Joe’s didn’t waste any time –ultrasound on Friday; biopsy the following Tuesday. The biopsy revealed a small tumor. Cancer? Me? I wasn’t sure how to process it all, but thanks to the breast care patient navigator at St. Joe’s, I was reassured.

I’m a walking ad for keeping up with your preventative tests. Whenever I talk with women about their health, I always tell them to get their mammograms. Not only is it important; it can literally save your life! That’s how mine was found—and thank goodness it was.

I had heard good things about the cancer center at Penn State Health St. Joseph, but never imagined I would need to go there! My brain kept turning around that “C” word – it was a lot to take in, but the entire cancer team at St. Joe’s helped me understand treatment options and gave me their recommendations. After talking with my doctor and the care team, I had no doubt this was the place that was going to help me through my cancer treatment. They were with me every step of the way. I had this sense of trust right from the beginning. Then, my doctors, Dr. Navesh Sharma and Dr. Marc Rovito shared the best news, yet – they said that all of my care could be done right at St. Joe’s! Treatment close to home. What a relief! I could have all of my care just 15 minutes away from my home. Even better was the fact that my doctors had immediate access to the advanced research and therapies offered through Penn State Cancer Institute.

My tumor was small, so they were able to do a lumpectomy. Once I was healed from surgery, I started radiation—every day, five days-a-week, for six weeks. Thankfully, between the travel to and from St. Joe’s and the radiation itself, the whole process only took about an hour each day. Instead of spending each and every day traveling hours to and from treatment, I was able to spend my days near my home working at my church and participating in choir activities. I was taking care of my mother at the time, and being close to home allowed me to spend priceless time with her. I didn’t have to get on the Schuylkill Expressway to Philadelphia at all! My life wasn’t interrupted by my treatment! I was still able to manage my various activities while taking care of my mother, which meant the world to me.

Another ‘plus’ of my personal experience with cancer treatment at Penn State Health St. Joseph—being at a smaller hospital allowed me to develop more personal relationships with my care team and staff. If I had a problem, help was just a phone call and short drive away. Each member of my Penn State Health care team made me feel important! I met with each of them, discussed my case and they kept track of everything. That really helped put my mind at ease—I was in a good place, and I knew it! This made a world of difference for me, especially since my friends in the Philadelphia area who have also had cancer said they didn’t get that personal touch that I had at St. Joe’s. The team went above and beyond, and for that, I was truly thankful.

And now? My diagnosis? I’ve been clear for a year, and I thank the incredible care team at St. Joe’s for their help in getting me here. Not only did the access to advanced therapies, research and treatments ease my mind—it was the people! My care team took care of me in every sense of the word, all while doing it in my own community! As we all know, there’s of course no guarantee that I’ll never go through this again. But if it happens, I know I will get through it just like I’ve done before. My care team is never far away.

Sometimes, life throws you a curveball that can actually be a gift. When you look at it that way, you realize you have the opportunity to take a step back and take a good look at your priorities, being able to truly focus on what really matters in your life!

At Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Cancer Center, we care for our patients with personalized treatment plans and a dedicated team of board-certified oncology specialists, extraordinary nursing care, and compassionate support staff. If you or a loved one has cancer, allow us to be Your Penn State Health. Contact us at 610-378-2117.