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Christy's Story

  • Author: Christy Cole
  • Date Submitted: Oct 3, 2023
  • Category: Comprehensive Breast Care

“ I loved going to treatment every week, even though I knew I was getting chemotherapy. People would ask me if I wanted a second opinion, and I said, No, these doctors and nurses were a gift to me. I call Dr. Rimmer, "the godfather", Dr. Brandt, "the wizard", and the chemotherapy nurses at the Anderson Family Cancer Institute my "angels." I couldn't have gone through this without them.”

When Maria Christina “Christy” Cole woke up on Thanksgiving Day in 2022 with a sharp pain and lump in her breast, she was convinced it was nothing more than a cyst.“There’s no history of breast cancer in my family, and I figured breast cancer wasn’t painful, so this had to be a cyst,” says the 58-year-old. After an ultrasound showed an abnormal finding, a follow-up biopsy was performed. She received a call from her radiologist on Dec. 16, 2022, the day of her youngest son’s university graduation. “My doctor said, ‘It’s cancer,’ but what I heard is, ‘It’s a cyst, it’s benign.’ “Then my doctor said, Christy, did you not hear me? It’s cancer.’ And I said, ‘Wait … what?’”

Three weeks later, she met with Dr. John Rimmer, breast surgical oncologist and medical director of Comprehensive Breast Care at Jupiter Medical Center, who diagnosed triple-negative ductal carcinoma, the most aggressive form of a breast cancer that is more common in Hispanic and African American women. That diagnosis launched an aggressive treatment plan that involved four types of chemotherapy to target the multiple tumor cells linked to this specific cancer, immunotherapy, a blood transfusion, and a double mastectomy.

“I loved going every week, even though I knew I was getting chemotherapy,” Christy says. “People would ask me if I wanted a second opinion, and I said, “No, these doctors and nurses were gifted to me. I call Dr. Rimmer ‘the godfather,’ hematologist/oncologist Dr. Debra Brandt ‘the wizard,’ and the chemotherapy nurses at Jupiter’s Anderson Family Cancer Clinic my ‘angels.’ I couldn’t have gone through this without them.”

One of those angels, in fact, was Amber Pruss, a former student at Western Pines Middle School, where Christy taught middle-school Spanish and math. “The first time I saw her, I looked at her and asked, ‘Amber?’ And she said, ‘Mrs. Cole?’ I asked her, ‘Are you still highlighting everything?’… because she was my highlighting queen in Spanish class. She highlighted everything and rewrote everything.” “I am,” responded Amber, who made sure to oversee her former teacher’s chemotherapy from that moment on.

Christy underwent a post-chemotherapy double mastectomy in July 2023 and continues immunotherapy treatments every three weeks through the end of the year. “I learned from Dr. Rimmer that there are 15 types of breast cancer, and I don’t want to make a home in my body for any of those other types.” Five weeks after her surgery, she followed through on a promise to travel to England to meet her second grandson. And she enjoys life by donning her pink-ponytail motorcycle helmet and hitting the road with her retired firefighter/paramedic husband. “I have a blast,” she says. “It makes me feel good. Cancer is not taking me out, and I’m going to have fun.” And she credits her ongoing zest for life to her cancer care team at Jupiter Medical Center.

“Every person who cared for me was handed to me,” she says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better team.”