Rachel's breast cancer journey
Rachel received radiation oncology treatment for breast cancer with Eugene Shieh, MD and team at GenesisCare in Jupiter, FL
Rachel M. was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Grade 1, Stage 1 at the age of 43. She had no symptoms, but did have a family history. In fact, Rachel is the third generation to have a breast cancer diagnosis in her family. Due to her mother and grandmother’s history, Rachel’s OB-GYN provider recommended she have an MRI scan.
“Breast cancer was the big bad wolf of my childhood. My mother was diagnosed when I was in elementary school and I was emotionally impacted watching her go through treatment. Her mother later died of breast cancer in her early 70s and I saw the toll the disease took on her as a young adult.“
Although numb after her diagnosis, Rachel was not surprised. With a family history, she knew she was at high risk. “I felt lucky it’d been caught before I ever felt a lump—unlike my mom and my grandmother.”
In the early weeks, as her team of doctors was assembled and she met them each for the first time, Rachel said she gained confidence and felt deeply cared for.
“My surgeon, my medical oncologist, my radiation oncologist—each of them calmed my fears, treated me with great care and compassion, and empowered me with the information I needed to make the best choices for my own treatment. Cancer is scary and can be deeply isolating, but my doctors forged personal connections that helped me feel like more than just one of a long stream of patients.”
Rachel opted for a wire-guided partial mastectomy with sentinel lymph node biopsies, followed by 20 whole breast radiation treatments with Eugene Shieh, MD and team at GenesisCare in Jupiter. Her genetics tests showed she had a gene mutation that leads to both breast and ovarian cancer, so she had one ovary (with a suspicious cyst) removed surgically and plans to preventatively remove the other at some point in the next several years.
I am so grateful for the care I received at GenesisCare. Radiation treatment is daunting by its very nature, but I was treated with such compassion and humor and love. I’ll be forever grateful.
Rachel believes the greatest gift of cancer —what helps her cope and gives her hope—is meeting other patients and survivors since her diagnosis.
“People in my community came up to me to tell me their cancer stories. I joined an online support group for women with breast cancer and it is the most phenomenal, supportive tribe of women. It isn’t a club I necessarily would have wanted to join, but it has been a gift,” she says.
“Cancer is such a universal human story, an experience that unites across all kinds of differences. Knowing that I’m just one of many, knowing that I am walking in the footsteps of so many before me, gives me a great deal of calm and courage. Cancer isn’t the big bad wolf anymore––just part of my family story.”