The holidays this year are bound to be a little extra merry for one young mother in Vancouver, British Columbia. Two years ago, after she found a small breast lump that quickly grew in size, doctors told her she may not see many more Christmas seasons. "The day I went in and had a diagnostic mammogram, they told me right then and there that I had cancer, and that it was a very aggressive cancer," says Elizabeth, who asked that we use only her first name.
According to this story by CURE magazine, a biopsy indicated that Elizabeth had stage 3B invasive ductal carcinoma. "After my diagnosis, I was told I would need to be seen at the BC Cancer Agency here in British Columbia," Elizabeth tells us. There was just one problem. Due to the approaching holiday season, an appointment wouldn't be possible for several weeks. That delay didn't sit well with Elizabeth. "I became very worried," she says.
When news of Elizabeth's plight reached family members in Arizona, they had different ideas. "They insisted we come to Mayo Clinic," Elizabeth tells us. "My husband phoned Mayo's International Patient Center in Arizona, and we spoke with a wonderful person named Andres Gonzalez, who set everything up for us," Elizabeth recalls. "We spoke with him on a Friday, and he said if we could get there by Monday morning, he would find a way to make it all work for us."
Andres arranged for Elizabeth to first meet with surgeon Richard Gray, M.D. "He was amazing," Elizabeth says. "He sat and talked with us for an hour and a half about what my life was going to entail for the next several months." Dr. Gray confirmed that Elizabeth's cancer was "very serious," but Elizabeth tells us he also "went out of his way" to make sure she knew that he and "everyone else at Mayo Clinic" would do all they could "so that my family and I would hopefully be able to move on from it."
And after treatment, which included chemotherapy and surgery, Elizabeth tells us that's exactly what's happened. "Dr. Gray, Dr. Raman Mahabir and my oncologist, Dr. Donald Northfelt, were so happy with the results," she says. "They told me everything went according to plan."
Elizabeth tells us it's a plan that "has given me my life back," saying she's grateful to have been able to come to Mayo Clinic. "I basically went from being told … that I might only have another two years to live, to having a curable form of cancer," Elizabeth says. "I feel so happy and grateful that I went there for a second opinion … and that I've gotten the amazing care there that I have ever since."
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