Patient benefits from new women’s breast health program in Northwest Florida area

Stefanie Littler is in her early 40s. Littler had not been to the doctor in six years due to moving and insurance issues. She had no symptoms of breast cancer, so she was surprised when her gynecologist found a lump in her breast.

Littler had a mammogram at Ascension Sacred Heart Bay Women's Diagnostic Center. Soon after, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Being an avid runner with no history of the disease in her family, she thought she would never get breast cancer. Now she knows that most women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease.

"I had never had a mammogram," said Littler. "I didn't pay attention, and that's a life lesson I would tell other women."

Her positive attitude is why Tanya Graybill, breast navigator for Ascension Sacred Heart, thought Littler should share her story with others. Littler said when she needs something she calls Graybill, and if she doesn't know the answer, she helps her find it. When asked about the treatment she has received from the multiple Ascension Sacred Heart doctors, nurses and sites of care, she summed it up in one word, fantastic.

"The doctors get into a group and talk about the patients, which is good because I don't have to constantly explain myself to each individual doctor," said Littler.

After her diagnosis, Littler met with Dr. Jonathan Smith, breast oncology surgeon with Ascension Sacred Heart, to discuss her options. Because of the density of her breast, and another health condition preventing her from undergoing radiation, she decided to get a mastectomy.

Dr. Smith performed Littler's surgery at Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast. She was able to do her breast reconstruction at the same time with Dr. Hugo St. Hilaire, a plastic surgeon who does procedures at the hospital.

"I recommend to anybody to do it all in the same day because the healing process happens all at one time," said Littler.

Dr. Thomas Johnson at Ascension Sacred Heart Cancer Center at Lynn Haven provides Littler with her oncology care. Littler's breast cancer is stage one and estrogen fed. She was on medication to treat her cancer, but will now need a hysterectomy. Despite that, she said she is fortunate not to need chemo.

"I promised myself I wasn't going to stop, I wasn't going to let this beat me and it was not going to bring me down," said Littler.

Throughout her journey she has kept her positive attitude, kept moving forward and kept on running. Littler said she is grateful to be able to get quality breast cancer care close to home and hopes to finish her treatment process by the end of the year with follow-up care as needed.

Ascension Sacred Heart Women's Diagnostic Centers provide 3D mammograms in Santa Rosa Beach, Watersound and Panama City. The location in Port St. Joe will upgrade to 3D mammography soon.

Ascension Sacred Heart has cancer centers in both Santa Rosa Beach and Lynn Haven with breast oncology surgeons in Miramar Beach and Panama City. All of our doctors are available for consultations as well as second opinions.

To find a mammogram location near you or to locate a cancer care specialist, visit