The only times Jessica had been to the doctor was when she was pregnant with her two daughters. But when she felt a knot in her breast while taking a shower, she knew to seek care.
“I had never even done a self-breast exam,” said Jessica, 41, of Panama City, FL. “I was just bathing and found it.”
She turned to the cancer care team at Ascension Sacred Heart Bay to access screening services and life-changing surgery and treatments. Jessica had a mammogram at Ascension Sacred Heart Bay Women’s Diagnostic Center that detected a suspicious lump that required a biopsy. Jessica was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer.
“I’ve met a lot of women that say ‘Poor me, why me?’” said Jessica. “This is the fight of your life, you can’t do that.”
Triple-negative breast cancer is very aggressive and can come back or possibly spread to the unaffected breast, which prompted Jessica to undergo a mastectomy, a procedure that removes breast tissue. Dr. Alison Moody, an Ascension Sacred Heart Bay breast surgeon, performed the surgery alongside Dr. Hugo St. Hilaire, plastic surgeon.
Jessica appreciated the compassionate care her care team gave from her diagnosis to her mastectomy. At Ascension Sacred Heart Bay care teams are with you through every step of your breast cancer journey. “Dr. Moody checked on me during her own personal time,” Jessica said. “As a single mom, it’s been special to me that she also answered my daughters’ questions.”
Following her surgery, Jessica underwent chemotherapy treatment with Dr. Thomas Johnson, an oncologist and hematologist at Ascension Sacred Heart Cancer Center - Lynn Haven. Jessica said Dr. Johnson is always positive and in a good mood. She also treasures her relationship with Tanya Graybill, a patient navigator who has checked on her and helped her get the resources she needs for treatment and recovery.
“The chemo nurses also keep you laughing a lot,” she said. “They find a way to stay positive and keep people upbeat.”
Recently that laughter turned to tears of joy as Jessica rang the bell celebrating her completion of chemotherapy. Her care team believes Jessica’s positive attitude is a key component of her treatment plan. She is now getting back into the normal routines and spending time with her daughters.
Early detection can make a difference
At Ascension Sacred Heart, our care teams recommend annual mammography screenings beginning at age 40, or earlier if you have a family history of breast cancer.
Getting regular breast health screenings may help find breast cancer early, when it is most treatable. Talk with a doctor about getting your mammogram by scheduling an appointment at ascension.org/sacredheartmammogram.