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Breast Cancer Patient Is ‘Paying It Forward’ at Memorial

Jeanne was 37 years old in September 2006 when she discovered a lump during a breast self-exam. Her gynecologist referred her for a mammogram. She was otherwise healthy, so the words of her physician were shocking – Jeanne had stage III breast cancer. While she was searching South Florida for the region's top oncologist, a friend referred Jeanne to Memorial Healthcare System and Alejandra Perez, MD, Director of the Breast Cancer Centers at Memorial Cancer Institute.

Diagnosed with an especially aggressive breast cancer, advanced triple negative, Jeanne underwent aggressive chemotherapy. After six months of chemotherapy, Jeanne had a lumpectomy and lymph node dissection. Three months of radiation followed her surgery.

Throughout her treatment, Jeanne continued to work. While she struggled emotionally, she found support through her faith, family and the Memorial staff, especially her physician, Dr. Perez.
"I credit Dr. Perez with keeping my fears at bay and guiding me through the experience – from diagnosis to recovery," says Jeanne. "There were days when I had no hope, but Dr. Perez really encouraged and supported me. I was in excellent hands at Memorial."

With a goal of providing patients with patient- and family-centered care, Memorial offers patients extensive services to help meet their needs including nutrition, psychological care, acupuncture and massage.

"Many of our patients are young women with families and careers in need of extra support and resources," says Dr. Perez. "Our goal is for our patients like Jeanne to continue to lead an excellent quality of life throughout their cancer treatment. At Memorial, we take care of the whole person, not just the disease."

Now in remission, Jeanne returns for follow-up visits every few months. Jeanne is also fulfilling her pledge to "give back" to Memorial. When she became involved in the Memorial Cancer Institute Patient and Family Advisory Council, Jeanne found her "calling" at Memorial. She knew she could combine her medical expertise as a pharmacist with her experience as a patient to make a difference.

"Serving on the council is a way for me to 'pay it forward' and help others," says Jeanne. "For example, the Council spoke as a group and suggested changes to help streamline the registration process and we publish a newsletter with positive stories for patients dealing with cancer. It has been very rewarding for me personally and I am proud of the impact that the Council has made to benefit patient care."


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