Since Theresa Orowick was 34-years-old, she was getting annual mammograms due to a history of trauma to her left breast. As time went by, she developed a false sense of security that she was fine and stopped getting mammograms. Then at age 46, she found a lump in her left breast that was diagnosed in an advanced stage of breast cancer.
“Once it was confirmed that I had breast cancer, I was so upset with myself for not continuing to get my annual mammograms,” said the Frankfort resident. “All I kept thinking was if I would have stayed vigilant and not blown-off getting my annual mammogram that maybe my breast cancer wouldn’t be in such an advanced stage.”
Fortunately, Orowick is now 13 months cancer-free, but her advice to other women is simple. “Take care of yourself and get your annual mammogram because early detection can save your life as well as help you avoid more extensive treatments if diagnosed,” states Orowick.
Once diagnosed, Orowick’s physician referred her to Dr. Brooke Phillips, medical oncologist at the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross.
“Theresa’s care plan consisted of chemotherapy initially then bi-lateral mastectomy surgery, followed up with radiation and then breast reconstruction surgery,” said Brooke Phillips, M.D., “She now takes tamoxifen to prevent any cancer reoccurrence and gets monthly injections to avoid osteoporosis. We are thrilled with her outcomes and admire her passion to motivate other women to continue to get their annual mammograms.”
Orowick also saw Dr. Anne McCall, a specialist in the use of radiation therapy to treat breast cancer.
“By coming to the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross, patients have access to the same advanced technology that is offered at the University of Chicago Medicine at Hyde Park in downtown Chicago,” said Dr. McCall, M.D. “We are fortunate to have highly trained and experienced radiation therapists working at Silver Cross who truly make Theresa’s and all our patients’ treatment so successful.”
After her final surgery, Orowick had several weeks of lymphedema therapy at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) at Silver Cross Hospital. “Theresa’s case was complex since she had an advanced stage of breast cancer and underwent both breast removal and reconstruction surgeries,” said Barbara Shoemaker, senior occupational therapist and certified lymphedema therapist with RIC at Silver Cross Hospital. “Theresa’s treatment sessions focused on education regarding lymphedema precautions, as well as massage and stretching exercises to decrease tissue tightness and improve the mobility of her arms.”
“All of the staff at both the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital was great,” said Orowick. “I had a fabulous experience! I received such thoughtful care from all of them. And because both facilities were so close to my home, my mom was able to drive me to my treatments and therapy sessions, which was less stressful than driving downtown.”
Recently diagnosed with Breast Cancer?
Silver Cross Hospital is making it easier to get advice from breast cancer experts on the next steps to take with a convenient, one-stop experience called the Multidisciplinary Breast Conference. This team meets in the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital for a Breast Conference every Tuesday morning. At the Conference, physician specialists representing general surgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology, radiology, plastic surgery and pathology reviews radiological images and pathology slides on state-of-the-art equipment and develops a consensus recommendation. The team documents the recommendations and a certified breast nurse navigator provides the recommendation to the patient’s doctor within 24 hours. Patients who could benefit from the Multidisciplinary Breast Conference at Silver Cross should contact their primary care physician to be referred to the Breast Conference.