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Great-grandmother fights cancer with care and support of the Beacon team, love of her large family

When Rebecca Rodriguez reflects on her battle against breast cancer, a particular memory stands out.

She was at Elkhart General Hospital, waiting to be called back for one of her radiation therapy sessions.

There was a young woman, she said, maybe in her early 20s, in the waiting area with her. This young woman told Rodriguez about her own cancer journey.

“She told me what she went through, and that she had lost her breast. She had already gone through chemo. She’s young to have cancer,” Rodriguez said. “And she had a smile on her face. She gave me inspiration.”

An early catch

Dr. Angela Miller

Dr. Lauren Das

Rodriguez had learned from her primary care provider, Dr. Angela Miller, that a routine mammogram revealed she had early-stage breast cancer.

From that point on, it was a whirlwind of activity: surgery performed by Dr. Justin Koenig, followed by radiation therapy with Dr. Lauren Das, and finally hormone therapy managed by Dr. Muhammad Saqlain.

“The breast unit, the radiation unit, every doctor – they all did a phenomenal job,” Rodriguez said.

More than that, they made her feel respected and well cared for. “They were so sweet. They knew me, knew my name,” she said. “I loved every one of the people. I bless everybody that I came across.”

Rodriguez underwent surgery in mid-January, and by the end of March she had completed all her radiation treatments. Fortunately, she did not need chemotherapy.

That left only the question of whether she would do hormone therapy, which is used to lower the risk of cancer returning. For that decision, she consulted with family as well as her care team.

“My cancer was less than a stage 1. I wasn’t going to do hormone therapy, but we all discussed it,” she said. “I called Dr. Saqlain up and told him I’d do the pill.”

The whole family

Dr. Justin Koenig

Dr. Mohammad Saqlain

At one point during her treatment, Rodriguez said that a member of her care team explained to her that when you have cancer, your whole family goes through it with you. Her husband and siblings later confirmed for her that was true.

Her sons, grandkids and great-grandchildren all spent extra time with her during her cancer journey.

“I couldn’t ask for better people being around me. They were all helpful, considerate and concerned,” she said.

With her treatments behind her, Rodriguez is grateful that cancer was found and taken care of. She’s feeling good and has gotten back to her favorite pastimes, walking and shopping for her very large family.

She has ten great-grandchildren, in addition to her kids and their kids. “With this many great-grandkids, I can only afford one gift apiece,” she laughed.

Looking back on her experience, Rodriguez said it was surprisingly positive: “I’ve never been in a hospital where people have been so kind.”

Let our Beacon Cancer Care specialists care for you

At Beacon, our Cancer Care experts help you live your best life by working with you and your family to provide the best cancer care available, close to home. From day one, we’ll connect you with a highly specialized, integrated network for your screening, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship needs.