Mary Flynn Keller
This is My Breast Cancer Story and I’m Sticking to It!
Breast Cancer #1
I vividly remember waiting patiently for the results of my mammogram that
day in September 1995 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The young technician
told me that they needed to call in their “spot specialist”
to take an extra look at my films. My first reaction was, “Ok, I’m
not surprised.” My mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer
years ago and now it was my turn. As the tests proved, I did indeed have
stage 1 breast cancer. I later decided on a lumpectomy at the University
of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with follow-up treatment
at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach. My post-op protocol included
30 radiation treatments and Tamoxifen. I decided not to pursue chemotherapy
since the benefits were not persuasive in my case.
Breast Cancer #2 -Return Visit
Life proved to be good as the years passed. My routine mammograms and check-ups
were just that, routine. During my annual girlfriends’ college reunion
in September 2018, I noticed some discomfort and felt a lump on my left
breast. One thing led to another, and a mammogram and an ultrasound were
scheduled. I felt uneasy when the ultrasound technician asked if I had
ever had a biopsy on another area of my breast. I replied that I had not,
and my breast cancer drill started all over again. Typically, the next
step is a needle biopsy. Unlike my first experience, I was not prepared
to hear the breast surgeon’s comment, “you have breast cancer.”
It felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. I was stunned. After
24 years, it was back. Same breast, new occurrence. -Go figure.
I soon learned that the world of breast cancer had changed considerably
over the years. However, some things hadn’t changed. The games of
“Choose the Right Doctor” and “The Waiting Game”
are still very popular. I had played these games before and I was in it
to win it, again.
My husband, Walt, and I spread the word that we were looking for the best
of the best, regarding breast cancer treatment. We were interested in
remaining local, but we would consider all possibilities. Two hiking friends
who are retired doctors went the extra mile. As experienced professionals,
they did their medical research and provided their results. A name kept
surfacing on their list, Nancy Taft, MD. I scheduled my appointment shortly
thereafter at Jupiter Medical Center. I believe that medical credentials
are important, but also realize that my comfort level as a patient is
just as vital. At my initial office visit, I sensed a strong feeling of
teamwork among the staff.
Dr. Taft, who served as a Lt. Colonel in the Army Reserve, had the admiration
of her staff, and they diligently followed her orders of attention to
detail. It showed. Yes, doctors have busy schedules and patients have
different stages of cancer and, of course, you are not their only patient.
Keeping that in mind, Dr. Taft patiently answered all my “Dumb Dora”
(my term) questions of why and what does this mean. As she reviewed my
case and provided me with the options of mastectomy (single or double),
along with possible reconstruction procedures, I continued to feel comfortable
that I had chosen the right professional for my medical needs. The “Choose
the Right Doctor” game was over. I had picked a winner in Dr. Nancy Taft.
As I was leaving her office, she impressed me once again by giving hugs
to me and my husband. She also took my hands, looked me in the eyes and
told me that she appreciated that I had placed my trust in her. Did I
mention that she had me at hello? Dr. Taft successfully performed my single
mastectomy surgery in March 2019.
Message to Other Women
People who have been challenged with breast cancer will offer their advice
on how they met their challenge. I often use the term,
“Faith, Family and Friends” as a simple response to dealing with life’s challenges. I need to add
Team Taft to my response. Thank you, Team Taft: Angela, Cricket, Donna, Karen, Laketsha,
Lara and Meredith for your dedication and compassion. Keep fighting the
fight. You do make a difference!
Town of Jupiter
210 Military Trail
Jupiter, FL 33458