Our Patients. Their Stories. Carla Boudreau
It was my whole life we were looking at during that appointment.Carla Boudreau
In December 2009, I felt a lump in my breast. It is a feeling that no woman wants to have. After meeting with my primary care nurse practitioner, she recommended that I have it checked out further and ordered a mammogram and ultrasound at a local hospital. The specialists there did see a suspicious mass but urged me to keep an eye on it and come back in six months. However, that isn’t my personality. I like to deal with things so I pushed for a biopsy during that appointment, which they did. A few days later, just after Christmas, the pathology report came back. A secretary called to let me know that the mass was listed as a phyllodes tumor. Though the report said it wasn’t cancerous the secretary said I needed to make an appointment with a surgeon, which I did during that call. That was all of the information she could give me on the phone. It was frustrating. Of course, I did my own research immediately after hanging up the phone and found that non-cancerous phyllodes can switch to cancerous. It does not respond to chemo or radiation. The best treatment is surgery. Though I did meet with a surgeon from the facility that did the original mammogram and biopsy, my husband, Todd, and I knew that we wanted to get a second opinion. All I could think of is, “I have a 3-, 7- and 8-year old. This has to be fixed. There is not another option. We have got to make this right.” It was very nerve wracking.
We made an appointment with oncology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H) Manchester to get their opinion of the next steps. The oncologist sensed my tension immediately. She looked at the other facility’s reports and films and said, “We are in a good spot. This is not anything you need to worry about. We are going to do surgery and will get nice big margins and clean lines to remove the tumor. I’m going to send you to Dr. [Roshani] Patel, a breast care surgeon.” It wasn’t until we were walking out of that appointment that I finally felt at ease. We had a plan.
During my next appointment, Dr. Patel reviewed all of my records and assured me that everything would be OK. I was able to get an appointment within two weeks for the procedure to remove the tumor. After the surgery was complete, they performed another ultrasound and mammogram to check my breast again. Every step of the way, the staff—from check in to the nurses to Dr. Patel—made Todd and I feel comfortable. There were no surprises and no unknowns. We came back a week later to check in and the pathology report indicated that it was a fibroadenoma [a benign tumor made of milk glands and supportive tissue of the breast], not phyllodes after all. However, it needed to come out anyway to prevent discomfort. I couldn’t believe that only a month prior I had first learned of the issue and now it was all behind me.
Since then, I’ve gone in earlier this year to see Dr. Patel once again for a cyst in my breast. She was able to drain it on the spot and I haven’t had any further issues.
The reason that I’ll keep coming back to D-H for my breast care is that they saw me as a person, not just another patient. I didn’t feel like I was ever rushed. Dr. Patel was happy to go over all of the information with us, teaching us as she was doing her job. It felt like we were sitting at a table together, having a conversation, not just a doctor relaying clinical information. When you are dealing with your health, you have to find a good facility to provide you with good medicine. It also has to provide you with a good frame of mind. My stress level didn’t go down until I went to D-H. To me, it was my whole life we were looking at. Each person in our experience made me feel like my care was personal to them. It was my surgery and they wanted to be sure my surgery was right, for me.