For Carmen Sue Gard, a pink, three-ring binder notebook made coping with breast cancer easier.
The notebook was developed by Via Christi Clinic breast cancer surgeon Patty Tenofsky, MD, breast cancer center coordinator/nurse navigator Terri Peters, BSN, and other members of the clinic's breast care team. It provides patients with a step-by-step guide to what they can expect as they undergo treatment for breast cancer.
"The book is written so simply that it's not hard to read and it's easy to understand," says Carmen Sue, 74, of Wichita. "The book was just wonderful."
Carmen Sue's breast cancer was detected in a routine mammogram she had on May 17 and confirmed through follow-up testing and a biopsy on May 25.
Two days later, Dr. Tenofsky and Peters met with Carmen Sue. "Dr. Tenofsky confirmed that it was cancer. She explained all of the treatment options to me," Carmen Sue says.
"She handed me this book that was like a school notebook with pages in it. She told me I needed to think over what I wanted to do. The book was so great because it's hard to remember everything that's said during the visit. The book is so well written that you really don't have many questions."
Carmen Sue says she faced a difficult choice: a mastectomy of her left breast or a lumpectomy with followup radiation treatments. She decided on the mastectomy because she did not want to undergo radiation.
In the days leading up to her surgery on June 9 and in her recovery period, Carmen Sue says the navigation services provided by Terri Peters were invaluable.
"It was really important. I would call her and she'd get right back to me. She would get right to Dr. Tenofsky if I had a question," Carmen Sue says. "Dr. Tenofsky and Terri are just so uplifting. Their personalities just make you feel good."
Carmen Sue, a retired teacher and cheerleading coach from Bishop Carroll High School, and her husband, Dee, will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in April 2012.
She is grateful her breast cancer was detected early. She advises other women to be sure they receive regular mammograms.
"Absolutely go in and be checked," she says. "This tumor was so small that I could not even feel it. If I had even let it go six months, they can grow fast and it may have spread into my lymph nodes."