What one woman wants you to know about being diagnosed with breast cancer
Abby Gage didn’t think it could happen to her. She eats healthy, loves her family and her job, receives regular mammograms and doesn’t have a family history of breast cancer. But cancer doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone, and it happened to her.
This February, Abby Gage, wife, mother of two and a yellow lab, received the news she never thought she would hear: she had breast cancer. Shock and anxiety began to set in. Her worst fears started to consume her thoughts.
But that changed when Abby met with her care team, which included Heidi Wiltse, a women’s nurse navigator at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill.
“We sat and talked for a long while. I listened to her fears and concerns,” Heidi says. “I feel that one of the most important things a navigator can do is to listen. We shared some tears and smiles, but I just let Abby share with me her experience. Once I explained my role, I could tell that Abby did feel more relaxed and comfortable. As her navigator, I am a phone call away for any questions, concerns, thoughts, fears, etc. She is never out there alone or without a resource.”
Heidi, among other physicians and nurses, helped walk Abby through treatment options, resources and answered questions about how to navigate her breast cancer journey, not just the technical and clinical roles, but the emotional journey as well.
Once Abby knew her plan and there were less questions to be asked, “a huge burden was lifted and having a game plan was the game changer,” she says. “Knowing my course of action came as a relief to me, and the care I received throughout my journey gave me confidence that everything was going to be fine.”
Abby ended up needing surgery and radiation in addition to the biopsy and ultrasound she received prior to her diagnosis.
Now that Abby is in a good place, she wants women to make sure they continue to get their mammograms, because even if you think there is no way it could happen to you, it can, and it’s best to catch cancer early.
To read more patient stories, check out Stories of the Girls.
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About the Author
Liz Donofrio, health enews contributor, is a marketing specialist at Advocate Health Care. As a newlywed, she is happy to be done planning her wedding and enjoying spending time with her husband and new extended family. In her free time, you can find Liz cooking new tasty recipes for her family, attending Chicago sporting events and chasing after her shih tzu-yorkie, Buttons.