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Patient feels grateful for Beacon Cancer Care team’s support “every step of the way”

Marian Emery

Last fall, Marian Emery underwent her routine mammogram, just as she does every year. This time, however, the radiologist identified something warranting a six-month follow-up study, as opposed to another year.

Six months later, the area of concern was still there. A biopsy confirmed that Marian had early-stage breast cancer.

She did the first thing many of us would do: she called a friend. During that conversation on a Friday afternoon, her friend recommended that she contact Dr. Samuel McGrath, a Beacon Medical Group radiation oncologist. Marian did just that, and early Monday morning she was in Dr. McGrath’s office for a consultation.

“I was really impressed,” Marian said. “Dr. McGrath did an exam and explained everything to me. The tumor was very small, and he was very encouraging. I felt as if Dr. McGrath just took me under his wing.”

Marian’s situation underscores the importance of mammography and early detection, Dr. McGrath explained. “Her cancer was identified early, when cure is definitely achievable. When she made the call, our staff made sure to get her in immediately so we could address the situation promptly and put her at ease.”

Dr. Kate Goze

In good hands

Marian first had a lumpectomy, which was performed by surgeon Dr. Kate Goze. The procedure went very smoothly. “She was very caring and professional, explaining the procedure thoroughly in a very thoughtful manner.”

Next came radiation therapy. Dr. McGrath told Marian that many people think radiation treatment is painful, difficult to tolerate or something to fear. He explained that while treating certain areas of the body can be challenging for a patient, treatment of her breast should be well tolerated.

“Radiation was painless, and it was very easy to receive the treatments!” Marian said. “When you arrive, you go directly to the dressing room where you put on a gown. The technicians come and get you and walk you to the radiation room. Then you just lay on the table and hold your breath a couple of times. You’re in and out of the office in 20 minutes or less.”

More importantly, the staff helped Marian feel safe and well cared for.

“Everyone was very respectful to me and were all so kind. They knew my name when I walked in the door,” Marian said. “I had a bad back and couldn’t walk very well. They were always very patient and helpful to me. Everyone was really supportive.”

Marian’s daughter had travelled from out of town to support her during her cancer journey, and the staff even took her back to see the machine and how they use it for radiation treatments.

Dr. Samuel McGrath

The health care team grows

Marian’s care team grew to include the Mayo Clinic. One of the tests performed had shown an elevated risk of the cancer coming back after treatment. If that was the case, chemotherapy would be recommended.

While discussing her options with medical oncologist Dr. Omer Toor, they agreed to get a second opinion through the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

“Cancer is a challenging diagnosis,” Dr. Toor said. “It takes a team effort to reach multidisciplinary treatment decisions. Mayo Clinic eConsults provide that platform so the patients may explore additional treatment options and experience more peace of mind.”

It didn’t take long to get her results, although Marian admitted how nervous she felt during that time, wondering about the possibility of having to go through chemotherapy. After shared decision-making, it was decided to forgo the chemotherapy.

“I was very, very happy,” Marian said. She appreciated the Mayo Clinic eConsult and the fact that Dr. Toor was proactive in getting a second opinion. “I was able to make a more informed decision about whether I wanted chemo or not,” she said.

Along the way, nurse navigator and patient advocate Kathy Hawley also provided guidance, explaining all the support systems Beacon has in place. “Every time I had a question, she was there for me,” Marian said.

Dr. Omer Toor

A bright path forward

Marian’s journey isn’t over; it has only been a few months since her treatment ended, and she’ll be monitored and taking medication for five years.

But her most recent mammogram looked good. She’s optimistic – and grateful for the positive experience she’s had with the Beacon team.

“What I want to say about Beacon is they made me feel very, very safe. I’ve never had such good care in my life,” she said, looking back on the team’s kindness, caring, concern and quick responses. “When you find something exceptional, you really appreciate the difference. They’ve been with me every step of the way.”

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One call. One team. Everything you need. When the unexpected happens, our Beacon Cancer Care team is here to walk beside you from day one of a cancer diagnosis. You will not be alone as experts with access to world-class technology and treatments partner with you to get you healthy again. If you’re looking for a referral or need to talk to us about your treatment options, we’re here to help. Contact us today at 574.647.8300.