Quantas Rivers celebrated her 41st birthday on October 6. This year, she had plenty to celebrate with her big family – including her mom, three sisters, one brother, and three sons. In June of 2017, Rivers started to become concerned over some abnormalities in her breast, such as skin changes and swelling, so she made an appointment with her primary care physician at Little Company of Mary Hospital (LCMH). She was referred to Jilma Patrick, M.D., fellowship-trained breast surgeon and medical director of the Comprehensive Breast Health Center at LCMH, for further consultation and examination.
A same-day biopsy and 3D mammography were performed. 3D mammography, also known as breast tomosynthesis, is new breast imaging procedure that is offered at LCMH.
“3D mammography uses x-rays to produce images of breast tissue in order to detect lumps, tumors or other abnormalities and is capable of producing more detailed images of breast tissue,” said Dr. Patrick. “This technology is a significant modern enhancement in the ability to detect and diagnose breast cancers.”
On July 7, 2017, at the age of 39, Rivers’ worst fear was confirmed: breast cancer. Rivers was diagnosed with stage IIIB breast cancer with metastatic spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
“I immediately told myself I was going to beat this,” said Rivers. “I went into ‘mommy mode’ and continued cooking dinners, shopping and working. Keeping my normal routine and a positive attitude is what kept me going.”
According to the NIH National Cancer Institute, inflammatory breast cancer is a rare and aggressive disease in which cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. This type of breast cancer is called “inflammatory” because the breast often looks swollen and red, or inflamed. Inflammatory breast cancer is rare, accounting for one to five percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in the U.S.
Dr. Patrick referred Rivers to Jayanthi Ramadurai, M.D., hematologist/oncologist at LCMH, and Rivers began targeted chemotherapy treatments.
“My sisters took turns sitting with me through each of my treatments,” said Rivers. “I am so grateful for each of them – and the nurses, Integrative Therapy and Cancer Center teams could not have been nicer throughout the entire time.”
At the end of the year, Rivers successfully completed her chemotherapy treatments and before undergoing a modified radical mastectomy in December, she hosted a large Thanksgiving gathering at her home.
“It was a wonderful celebration with my family and was exactly what I needed,” said Rivers. “And I cooked the entire meal – which I love doing and was so happy to be able to do!”
In February of 2018, Rivers began radiation treatments with Julia Choo, M.D., radiation oncologist at LCMH.
“It truly was a multidisciplinary team approach,” said Dr. Patrick. “Dr. Choo, Dr. Ramadurai and myself – along with the entire Cancer Center team – worked together to create a personalized, comprehensive treatment plan for Ms. Rivers in order to achieve the best possible outcome.”
Today, Rivers is cancer-free and living her life to the fullest.
“My biggest advice to women would be to listen to your bodies, and get a mammogram! They truly save lives,” said Rivers. “I am so grateful to Dr. Patrick and the breast health team for giving me a new lease on life.”
The 20th Annual Beverly Breast Cancer Walk (BBCW) will take place on Mother’s Day, Sunday May 12, 2019. The BBCW benefits Little Company of Mary’s Cancer Center, Comprehensive Breast Health Center and Mammography Department, allowing Little Company of Mary to provide state-of-the-art treatment and services to breast cancer patients and their families.
Did you know? Your “screening” mammogram at Little Company of Mary can be conveniently scheduled online – no physician order needed. Go to www.lcmh.org/onlinescheduling to schedule yours today. To make an appointment with Dr. Patrick, call the Comprehensive Breast Health Center at 708.229.4050.