A New Perspective
Joye Jeffrey is a registered nurse and board certified lactation consultant at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center. For many years, she drove past the facility’s Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center on her way to work. She never had a reason to go there and thought it was just another building; a place that other people went for treatment. That is until November 2008, when her annual mammogram screening detected ductile carcinoma in situ (DCIS). She had breast cancer.
The Michigan native is a wife, a mother of two, and a grandmother of two. She leaned on her supportive family when she made the decision in April 2009 to have a double mastectomy. Hers was a treatable form of cancer not involving her lymph nodes. She knew her prognosis was great and the odds of the cancer returning were extremely small, making her decision somewhat easier.
The first step in her treatment plan was to meet with Cancer Care Coordinator Melanie O’Hara. “Melanie is awesome,” Joye said. “She was wonderful to me and helped me understand exactly what to expect throughout the process.”
Joye’s medical team included Dr. Nedra Harrison, breast surgeon; Dr. Jerry Cato, oncologist; and Dr. Bryan Gawley, plastic surgeon. She credits these skilled physicians and the entire surgical staff for making all of her procedures as comfortable and painless as possible. “The doctors presented the facts along with my options, and were very supportive of my decision. Everyone was so reassuring and caring. In fact, my pre-op nurse went through the very same process and even held my hand before surgery.”
Because she didn’t receive chemotherapy, she had virtually no side effects following her procedure. In the eight weeks that followed, the Fountain Hills, Ariz., resident walked about three miles every day around the world-famous fountain in her east valley community. For someone who admits to hating the gym, this gave her an opportunity to exercise without the monotony of a treadmill.
Little did she know that her routine walks would lead to jogging and eventually her participation in a race for the cure for breast cancer event in October 2009. She vows to return each and every year, and says that it was an emotional experience that helped her appreciate her new-found health even more.
Joye had no history of breast cancer in her family. There was never a lump in her breasts. Her diagnosis was strictly the result of an annual exam. She is quick to offer advice to any woman who will listen. “Be in tune with your body. Please don’t put off your annual check-ups. I am a huge proponent of mammograms. In my case, it saved my life.”
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