Story of Hope
Patient Story: Theresa Rodriguez
I was diagnosed with lobular breast cancer in December of 2011 and had a mastectomy on January 10, 2012. I live in Boise, ID and had the majority of my treatment locally, including the mastectomy, the removal of several compromised lymph nodes, chemotherapy and radiation. When I completed treatment for my cancer, I sought options for reconstruction here locally, but I didn't feel comfortable with the surgeon I originally saw. I did some research and planned a visit to the Breast Center at OHSU.
I traveled to Oregon fully anticipating that first visit to be one of many necessary prior to seeing the completion of my surgery. To my great surprise, Juliana Hansen, M.D. and her team arranged for me to be seen that very day by the other providers involved so that I didn't have to make any additional travels. I was so surprised it almost seemed as if I had cheated the process, as I was certain from my previous experiences with medical providers that this would be a rather involved process! As I was in the exam room, her team was coordinating with radiology, the oncology department, etc. in order to smooth the way for me. This was a brand new kind of experience for me. I thought that I had been given excellent treatment over the last months, but nothing could compare to what I was seeing here. I never had to worry about details. OHSU staff kept me informed by phone of every detail.
When I arrived in Portland the second time, it was for the surgery. Everything was scheduled so quickly, compared to local providers who would have been a minimum of several months away from performing reconstruction. The type of procedure available to me locally would have also included weekly follow up visits for months, multiple surgeries with expanders, and more extensive recovery time.
Less than two months from my initial visit to OHSU, I underwent my reconstruction. There was a moment immediately following surgery when I got nervous about my recovery – I was certain it was going to be a challenge – but the next morning I was up and walking around and feeling confident that I would be back to normal in no time.
While I had looked forward to being "whole" again, I had seriously underestimated what to expect in terms of impact for my self-esteem. In the last several weeks I have grown far more confident, outgoing and happy in general. My relationship with my husband is more solid than ever, and I feel much more comfortable with intimacy, my seven year old was so excited when I took her swimming recently, and the manner in which I carry myself has transformed. I feel vibrant and alive and happy to enjoy everything that I used to do! None of this would have been possible without Dr. Hansen, OHSU and this wonderful reconstructive program.
If Theresa's story inspires you, please consider making a gift in support of the OHSU Department of Surgery.