Next posts Viewing 1-5 of 9 result(s).

Paralympic athlete thrives after sarcoma

Written by Community Health Network on 7/8/2014 6:00:00 AM

J Dee Marinko, cancer survivorBrazil may be hosting the World Cup now, but it will also host the Paralympic Games in 2016. And sarcoma survivor, J. Dee Marinko, a member of the U.S. Sitting Volleyball team plans to be there.

Marinko lost his foot to sarcoma, a rare cancer, in 2009. 

At 28 years old, Marinko was working as an Air Force supply tech in Oklahoma when went to the doctor complaining of foot pain. An MRI image revealed a cystic growth in his foot. continue reading ...

Stacy's story: Part IV

Written by Community Health Network on 6/24/2014 8:00:00 AM

This is the final post in a four-part blog series. Stacy Costa is a breast cancer survivor who was treated at Community Cancer Care Center. One year into survivorship, she credits Dr. Robert Goulet and her breast cancer team for her survival.

“I thought I knew what to expect with breast cancer," said Costa. "As an 18-year-old girl my aunt’s breast cancer experience was very vivid. I knew about surgery, chemotherapy and that you typically lost your hair."

Costa expected to be prepared for the side effects of breast cancer, but she wasn't. When she fit began to lose her hair, it was very emotional.

“I thought the hair loss wouldn’t matter, but it did," said Costa. "As I showered, bits of my hair, or what was left of it, washed away. But it didn’t wash off of me easily.”

Costa decided to take control and shave her head.

In doing so, she was surprised to find that her husband, little boy and brother shaved their heads too - a show of support and solidarity.

“It was a really cool moment when my little boy Aaron said he wanted to look like me,” said Costa. “It really touched me that my older brother shaved his head too, and when asked at work (jokingly) ‘Why – do you have cancer?’ His reply was no, my sister does. He’s a great big brother and that strength is my strength.”

Costa didn’t hide or take a break from work after she shaved her head. She did just the opposite and chose to sport a new hats or bandanas.

But even now, as a survivor, Costa can still see the side effects of treatment.

“I could control the pain from the treatments and recovery process, but I couldn’t control the fact that my hair came back curlier and grayer, or that my finger nails and toenails grow weirdly now,” said Costa. “I knew we were getting rid of the bad cancer cells, but other little things changed too."

She said that have to get comfortable with change and find the beauty and strength within yourself.

Costa said, "You have to say, 'It’s all about me', and make that your health the focus.”

To read more about Costa's journey with cancer and survivorship, see our previous blog posts. 

Stacy's story: Part II

Written by Community Health Network on 6/17/2014 8:00:00 AM

This is the second post in a four-part blog series. Stacy Costa is a breast cancer survivor who was treated at Community Regional Cancer Care Center. One year into survivorship, she credits Dr. Robert Goulet and her breast cancer team for her survival.

Breast cancer care takes a full team of support at Community

Community Cancer Care provides breast health navigators to patients who are diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast health navigators are available to answer questions concerning breast health, provide education and support, coordinate care as needed, and prepare breast cancer patients for survivors

“I had three nurse navigators, Natalie, Sharlee and Tracy,” said Costa. “I think I’ll be seeing Dr. Goulet, Dr. Walling and the wonderful ladies of my breast care team on and off for the rest of my life.”

Breast health navigators provide continuity for patients and their families throughout their healthcare experience, during what can be a very stressful time in a woman’s life.

“Natalie calmed me down when I first learned of my diagnosis and had so many decisions to make,” said Costa. “I had a lot of questions and concerns. She tackled each one and we got answers together. It didn’t matter how crazy the question was, she delivered the answers in ways that I could manage them.”

Breast health navigators also provide assistance with appointments, surgery preparations and at treatments. continue reading ...

Stacy's story: Part I

Written by Community Health Network on 6/10/2014 7:00:00 AM

“Is there anything I can do to help you? Maybe take the kids out for a few hours?” Those are the types of things that can really help. What you don’t want to say to a (breast) cancer patient is “How are you feeling today?”

When Stacy Costa was 18 and her aunt, age 31, was diagnosed with breast cancer, she remembers thinking to herself that she was going to get cancer too.

“It was just a feeling because four people on my mom’s side had cancer,” said Costa.

Knowing her family history, Costa stayed conscious of her breast health and very self-aware of what felt normal and what did not. Part of that included performing routine self-exams. It was one of those routine self-exams that told her a lump in her breast was different and it shouldn’t hurt to touch. She acted quickly and called her family doctor.

It started with an ultrasound and moved onto the radiology department where she had a mammogram screening and was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Upon receiving the diagnosis Costa reached out to her mother, a former nurse and pharmaceutical representative, who put her in touch with Community Breast Care Center.

“I made the call to Community and got in quickly,” said Costa. “I asked my mom to come with me, not so much because she was my mom, but because she could translate all the medical-speak. But Dr. Goulet (breast surgeon) spoke to me so plainly that I didn’t need to worry. He was so good at giving me all the information and letting me take time to make decisions.”

Costa said she wasn’t surprised by her diagnosis and that she would need surgery and chemotherapy. But she did wonder if the family history was a factor, so Dr. Goulet did a gene test. continue reading ...

Cancer survivor golfs for a cure

Written by Community Health Network on 6/3/2014 6:00:00 AM

Courtney Larson and husband at inaugural golf outing

Courtney Larson was performing a breast self-exam when she discovered a suspicious lump. Concerned, she followed up with her physician. A diagnostic mammogram was performed and revealed Larson had breast cancer.

"I went in on for my mammogram on a Thursday and was diagnosed with cancer that same day," said Larson.

Within a day of her diagnosis Larson had a dedicated cancer care team ready to help her fight her cancer.

"Following my diagnosis Dr. Erin Zusan, breast surgeon at Community Health Network, arranged a family meeting," said Larson. "My husband and family members were able to ask all of their questions up front and be on the same page prior to the start of my treatment. Dr. Zusan even left her own family during that time to come and comfort me in my time of need. That was the start of a great relationship."

By the time Larson left that first meeting she had all appointments scheduled and a comprehensive treatment plan outlined.

"I didn't have to make a single phone call to set up an appointment or worry about communicating between each of my doctors," said Larson. "Community took care of all of that. There was a clear plan of attack, and that was a huge relief."

Not only did Courtney have the support of Dr. Zusan, but a nurse navigator who accompanied her to every appointment to take notes, answer questions and provide advice.

"The first time I met Sharon (my nurse navigator) she walked into the room and said to me, 'We're going to be sisters and I'm going to get you through this'," said Larson. 

And Larson got through it. continue reading ...

Next posts Viewing 1-5 of 9 result(s).

Appointments available!

To make an appointment with an MD Anderson Cancer Network® certified physician at Community, call 800-777-7775 today!

Meet our nurse navigators

When it comes to your fight against cancer, they've got your back. Our nurse navigators act as a guide, resource, advocate and educator for newly diagnosed cancer patients and their families. Learn more here.