What one woman wants you to know about being diagnosed with breast cancer

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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One Comment

  1. I too am a breast cancer survivor. For many years my mammograms showed “classifications” so I always feared that some day I might get breast cancer. I had mag views, I saw a breast specialist I had ultra sounds. The day finally came when the radiologist reading my mammogram said he wanted a biopsy. While doing the biopsy he said he was about 80% sure that the lump was malignant. I saw the surgeon, I read Dr. Susan Loves Breast Book I talked with other people I did everything I could think of and then had a lumpectomy. The tumor was small but the cancer was triple negative; a more aggressive form of breast cancer. I had chemo. and radiation and then I saw a Naturapath. I took supplements, started exercise, changed my diet and saw the doctors regularly. This October it will be 10 years since surgery and I am strong, healthy and very happy to be alive and share my story. I loved all of my Doctors at Good Shepherd and the Oncology nurse who helped the Dr.’s to understand what a woman goes thru with this diagnoses. I had options regarding where I could go for treatment and I made the decision to stay near home and go to Good Shepherd. I am glad I did.

About the Author

Liz Donofrio
Liz Donofrio

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.