Local Care Close to Home - Brookings Health System

My name is Linda Peterson and I am from Brookings. My husband and I both have motorcycles so we like to do some motorcycle riding. And I have twin boys that drive race cars, so of course the summertime is spent watching them race. And my youngest son just brought our first grandchild into the world. So I am very excited to have a granddaughter to spoil.

October is Breast Month, as we all are aware. My employer brought the mobile mammography clinic, or bus, to our site so that it would make it convenient for us to be able to get our mammograms done. I had put off having a mammogram done, because, like most women, it isn't a pleasant experience. So it isn't something that we jump at the chance to do. So I hadn't had it done for quite some time.

So by having the clinic, or the bus come to me, I didn't have an excuse not to take advantage of that. I still never anticipated that I was going to get that phone call telling me that there was something that showed up that didn't belong there. And then the subsequent procedures that took place after that, because I did have to have a second mammogram. I had an ultrasound. I had a biopsy. You just don't anticipate that your doctor is going to call you when all of that is over and tell you that it is cancer.

How Did Your Life Change After Discovering Cancer?

Your world kind of goes into a tailspin. You know, you think you are going in for a routine procedure, to have the mammogram done. To get a phone call and be told that, "We're seeing something that we're not sure . . . we just don't know about it so we want to look at it again." And it seems like the time from when you leave after the ultrasound until tomorrow takes forever, because you're so anxious, you want to find out what's going on.

Because I wasn't hearing anything quickly, I became suspicious. So I did a lot of research on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning. Just trying to prepare myself for, "What if I do find out that this is cancer?" You know, I want to know as much as I can. So when I did indeed get that phone call telling me that, "Yes, your tumor did test positive for cancer."

Some of the things that the doctor was saying to me made sense, because I had read about it, but then your ears just kind of go numb. It's like you have water in your ears. And everything else that they're saying to you is just vibration. You don't really hear it and you don't really understand it. So from that point, actually until after chemotherapy started in January, I don't know that I was really understanding everything that was being told to me, because it just felt like a whirlwind of information.

What Were Your Treatment Options?

There are a lot of options when it comes to treating breast cancer. Some of the things that they take into consideration are family history, whether or not there's a history of breast cancer, my age. They typically don't like to see breast cancer in patients that are under the age of 50. Thankfully, I still am under 50.

And then also, the size of the tumor were things to consider. So we did feel that, because I did have a family history of two primary breast cancers, which means cancer in both breasts at different times, it was in my best interest to go with the bilateral mastectomy.

How Did Dr. Oey Provide Care?

I didn't want to be just a case, and I was very concerned about that. But from my very first appointment with Dr. Oey-Devine, I did not feel like I was just a case. I felt like I had a very personal connection to her.

She really asked a lot of questions about my family history, asked a lot of questions about how this treatment would impact me in the long run. And I felt right away that I was very special to her, and not just a case.

How Did Dr. Howard Help With Breast Reconstruction?

Dr. Howard was the first person that I saw when I went into the operating room on the day of my procedure. And I had expressed to him that I was very nervous about the decision that I made, and very concerned about, or wondering if that was the right decision for me.

And his gentle manner, and he put his hand on my shoulder and assured me that I was making a good decision, and that as long as I was in his care, I didn't have anything to worry about. So it did make going into that procedure much more fearless.

What Did You Appreciate Most About Your Care Team?

I really appreciated the communication that took place between all of the doctors. When you are being treated for cancer, you are not just seeing one doctor. There are several people that are involved in your treatment, whether it be the surgeon, the plastic surgeon, the oncologist.

But I've always felt very comfortable, very confident in the communication that's taking place. If I am in the Brookings clinic to see my doctor for whatever reason, when I go to my next appointment with the oncologist, the oncologist has all of that information, they see all of that information. So the communication that is taking place is phenomenal.

The communication that’s taken place between Dr. Oey-Devine and Dr. Howard, for Dr. Oey-Devine to be able to do my fills, in between the times I was seeing Dr. Howard, was key to my continuing with my reconstruction. Because they both knew exactly what was going on and what the other one was doing. And I always felt very comfortable with that.

What Did You Appreciate About Having Treatment Close to Home?

I was really pleased that I had the option to have my treatment close to home. When you think about everything that's involved with dealing with something as serious as cancer, being able to have that treatment so close to home made that process, that decision-making easier.

What Would You Say to Other Women?

I would absolutely encourage every woman to stay on a schedule with getting their mammograms done, so hopefully it can prevent someone from having to go through the detail of chemo, or of any of the treatment process that I did. Catch it early.

I feel very confident that my treatment is going to take care of this. And I feel like I will be a survivor. But I would really encourage every woman to stay on a schedule and get their mammogram. And if something does happen, by all means, feel very confident in the care that they are going to get in Brookings.