Submitted by Providence
AAs a retired nurse and current fitness instructor, Lorraine Clarke is an advocate for health for everyone in her life. Sometimes, however, it is easy to forget one’s own healthy practices. Fortunately for Lorraine, in terms of mammography screening, this is not the case.
“I do the self-tests, and I never felt anything, but I was also religious about having my screening every year, not just every two years,” the 61-year-old said. . “And I’m glad I did that, and I tell anyone who wants to listen how important that is.”
Lorraine discovered the importance of early detection when two suspicious areas were discovered last November during her annual mammogram. A biopsy was performed in December and one of the areas turned out to be ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), an early stage breast cancer.
“It was so early that the biopsy actually caught most of the cancer, but I had surgery and then 16 sessions of radiation therapy,” Lorraine said. She currently has no evidence of the disease. “I got it early, extremely grateful, and now back in business.”
Lorraine actually never left the company. She taught spinning classes in the mornings at Tumwater Valley and went to radiation in the afternoons. “I was overwhelmed with the initial diagnosis, but the healthcare team was amazing, answered all my questions and encouraged me throughout,” she said.
One of the first people to contact Lorraine after the diagnosis was Providence Oncology Patient Navigator Karry Trout. By working directly with oncologists, surgeons, radiologists and other clinicians, patient navigators help patients understand and follow their cancer treatment plans. This type of counseling has been shown to improve treatment outcomes for patients. By having someone else to lean on and lead the way, patients and their caregivers can focus on their recovery.
“Karry was fabulous and her communication was spot on,” Lorraine said. “Just when I was getting uncomfortable and had a question, it seemed like she would call and check in and see how it was going – it was huge. And every time I left a message for her, she came back to me immediately with excellent information.
Providence Regional Cancer System Patient Navigators understand “the system” and act as patient advocates, helping cancer patients navigate their treatment and move from one stage of survival to the next. This free service connects patients with helpful and compassionate guides who will help them find their way through cancer treatment. They are an essential link between patients and healthcare providers.
It’s also been helpful for Lorraine’s husband of 34 years, Patrick, and their two adult sons, who don’t live in the area.
Survival begins the day someone is diagnosed with cancer. At Providence Regional Cancer System, this also means connecting with Providence Survival Program Care Management Nurse Tiffany Randich.
Like most patients, Lorraine was done with medical treatment, but was able to use Tiffany and the survivorship program for other resources.
“First of all, Tiffany is such a treasure. She reached out to me and sent me an amazing package with everything I had been through, and it was awesome because you forget,” Lorraine said. She’s so supportive.”
One of the services Lorraine was able to take advantage of through the program was access to a therapist. “I was able to talk to someone who helped me process the whole experience and what it meant and how it affected me,” she said. “It was extremely helpful. I strongly encourage this to anyone.
Get your screening
“I preached to everyone to get their mammogram,” Lorraine said. She has resumed her busy schedule of teaching spinning classes and has just returned from a week-long trip to visit family. The early detection mantra was reinforced when she found out that a close friend had had a similar experience to hers.
“They found it early with her, and everything went well,” Lorrain said. “I tell people you have to defend yourself and you have to follow your projections.”
The American Cancer Society recommends talking with your healthcare provider about your risk for breast cancer and the best screening plan for you.
To schedule a screening mammogram in Thurston County, contact South Sound Radiology at 360.252.9301. In Lewis County, contact the Providence Imaging Center at 360.330.8880.