At her annual gynecological exam in January 2013, Margaret received a physical breast exam and no lumps were palpable and no other masses were detected. But after her annual screening mammogram, she learned that the results showed something—something that would have to biopsied.
“They look at everything.”
Margaret was referred to Dr. Jan Huston—medical director of the Breast Center at HackensackUMC Mountainside.
“Dr. Huston is amazing. Such a positive and encouraging force – who is empowering her patients to take care of their health, even after treatment.”
It was Dr. Tamica Evelyn White at the Breast Center at HackensackUMC Mountainside who performed Margaret’s biopsy, and she was the one to deliver the news to Margaret: She had breast cancer. Fortunately, the mammogram was able to see what the physical exam could not find.
“When you’re having multiple treatments each week, being close to home is very important.”
The treatment plan developed for Margaret by the Breast Health Program at HackensackUMC Mountainside was recommended by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and since she could receive the same quality care right at home, in the same hospital where she gave birth to her daughter and son, Margret felt very comfortable receiving her treatment there. Margret knew both the nursing staff and doctors there as kind, caring and professional, giving her more confidence.
“During treatment, I was even able to be there for all of my son’s milestones during his senior year in high school, from prom to graduation, and enjoy visits with my daughter who lives in New York now—the timing of the treatments, and Dr. Conti’s comforting and reassuring approach made it possible to continue our lives.”
At HackensackUMC Mountainside, Margret chose Dr. John Conti as her oncologist and Dr. Jose Barba as her radiologist, who were both “amazing, reassuring, and friendly.”
“Dr. Barba and his team are so kind, caring, professional and thorough in their treatment,” Margret recalls. Dr. Conti even introduced Margret to another patient with similar background who was just 9 weeks ahead of her in treatment, and now they’ve formed their own two-woman support group.
“My advice to others diagnosed with breast cancer: Go where you’re comfortable. It’s about people, history, and reputation. Meet the doctors. It’s very important that you have a connection with them.”
And even though the type of cancer Margret was diagnosed with (HER2+ breast cancer) can be very aggressive, a successful lumpectomy and targeted treatments like Herceptin, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy have helped Margret become cancer-free. Today, she’s completing her last course of radiotherapy and looking forward to a healthy and happy future with her children and her husband, who has been her rock through the entire treatment experience.
“At Mountainside, they see me as a whole person, not just as a patient—and that makes all the difference.”