Montandon’s wife’s optimism and positivity helped her through breast cancer treatment while persevering through additional hardships | News, Sports, Jobs
Teresa Meisinger, from Montandon, has suffered a lot in recent years.
She underwent surgery to repair three aneurysms. She lost her job during the pandemic. She lost her mother to COVID-19 and her father to Alzheimer’s disease. More recently, she lost her husband, Vince, to a stroke.
On top of all that, she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. She underwent surgery, four cycles of chemotherapy and 15 cycles of radiation therapy.
Now she has a new job, is on hormone blocking therapy to make sure her breast cancer doesn’t come back, and wants to share her story to encourage others.
Teresa’s breast cancer journey began when she was diagnosed in November 2020. She had her annual mammogram, which she did faithfully every year, and it was clear.
Five months later, she noticed a discharge from her nipple and she knew something was wrong. She called her family doctor and he immediately scheduled her for a mammogram and ultrasound at Geisinger.
They found a mass and did a biopsy, which led to her diagnosis of breast cancer. He was told it was at the very beginning.
A few weeks later, Teresa met Dr. Joseph Blansfield, a Geisinger physician in surgical oncology, who told her she would need a partial mastectomy. She was operated on before the end of May.
She then started four rounds of chemo, followed by 15 rounds of radiotherapy, ending in October 2021. She is now taking hormonal medication to make sure the cancer doesn’t come back. Her oncologist, Dr. Victor Vogel, told her about hormonal drugs, “It’s proven to work, without it you have a 40-50% chance the cancer will come back,” he said to Therese.
How does she maintain her positive attitude?
“I have always considered myself a strong person” she says, “and I have a very strong faith in God, so that has a lot to do with that.”
This positive attitude began the day Teresa received her cancer diagnosis from Dr. Monica Froicu.
“I had a hunch the outcome was going to be, but the way she spoke to me on the phone was amazing. She said, ‘Look, I’ve seen a lot of people struggle with cancer, and the main thing is to have a positive attitude throughout the story” “ remembers Therese. “”Listen to your team of doctors and nurses who are here to help and I can’t stress enough about having a positive attitude throughout the procedure. ”
“I hung up on the phone with her and my daughter-in-law and cried a lot. My husband came home from work and he and I cried a lot. He said, ‘I have no doubt in my mind that we’ll get through it'” said Therese.
“I believe in trying to have the best attitude possible to get through life’s ups and downs, but it was his encouragement that started to keep me focused,” she added.
The whole Geisinger team has been phenomenal along the way, according to Teresa.
“I never felt alone between the care I received at Geisinger and my family, as they were all there for me,” shared Therese.
Not that there haven’t been bad days along the way.
“The chemo is tough, there’s no ifs and ands or buts about it. After the first one it’s like, oh my god, do we have to do this,” she says.
“I would have had chemo on a Thursday and on Sunday I was done. I was grilled for about three days. But you know you bounce back from that and just keep going,” said Therese.
Teresa said it was about doing what the doctors told her to do, “Because I wanted to go through the whole process and get on with my life.”
“The material I received to keep me up to date with the whole process was phenomenal, and they were always a phone call away, from doctors to nurse navigators to oncology nurses, the nine yards, even after hours”, said Therese.
Serena Tripp, RN, breast nurse coordinator at the Geisinger Danville Breast Surgery Clinic, emphasized the importance of having someone to help navigate you through the patient’s treatment.
“It’s a difficult time for patients. They have just had this diagnosis which they did not expect and as soon as they hear it they want everything to be done right away. So we’re trying to slow everything down and really take it piece by piece. And explain that most of the time it is treatable and talk about what the treatment is and what to expect,” Serena said.
“There are a lot of moving parts in breast cancer treatment. At Geisinger, we work very closely as a team, medical oncology, genetics, pathology, radiology, all really important parts of the breast cancer team,” Serena said.
Serena says annual mammograms are still the best screening tool for breast cancer. Comparing year to year to see if there is a change is the gold standard for breast cancer screening. She also added that it’s important to be aware of personal breast changes and to contact your health care provider if you notice any changes.
Last November, Teresa had her annual mammogram and everything was fine.
“I’ll have one again next month and honestly I’ve talked to other breast cancer survivors and they tell me you hold your breath every time you go for a mammogram. And I certainly understood that feeling because when I went there last year I was like, ‘OK, that should be fine’ and it was.
“I have confidence that it will continue to go well”, said Therese.
Teresa has some advice for women who are delaying their mammogram.
“The most important thing I can say is that we women take care of everyone but ourselves, and I can tell you through this experience that I’ve learned, we can’t You have to take care of yourself first. So having mammograms, pap tests, colonoscopy, the nine yards, is very important – because you won’t be able to take care of your family or anyone you know. it is else unless you take care of yourself first. shared Therese.
“I was lucky to have caught this early, I feel a little blessed for it”, said Therese.