A routine mammogram detected Kelly's cancer
Kelly Frakes is diligent about her mammograms. Since 1988, she has worked with her OB/GYN physician to keep healthy and to bring three beautiful baby girls into the world. On her physician's recommendation, Kelly scheduled an annual exam and mammogram.
When her physician retired, she let her annual appointment lapse. It was some time before Kelly scheduled an appointment for her mammogram at Community Hospital North. A few days after that appointment, she received a call asking her to come in again.
Her cancer diagnosis came as a surprise
As Kelly walked into her follow-up appointment, she did not feel apprehensive. She knew there was no history of breast cancer on either side of her family. However, during her appointment, the physician and nurse told Kelly they found something on her mammogram and would like to schedule a biopsy immediately.
Kelly still was not worried, but her husband showed concern and immediately began to ask questions. The nurse and physician helped to put him at ease, making a point to answer all of his questions before Kelly went back for the biopsy.
Two days later, the call came that so many women fear. The physician on the phone spoke gently with Kelly, saying, “The results are not what we were hoping; you have breast cancer.
For a split second, Kelly was concerned, but then realized that her main focus would be to get through this. She wanted to be okay for her family.
Assembling her breast cancer care team
The next day, Kelly and her husband met with Timothy Goedde, MD, an MD Anderson Cancer Network® certified physician specializing in breast surgery. They also spent time with Claudia Davis, RN, an oncology nurse navigator who helped Kelly and her family understand how the team would support Kelly at every stage of her breast cancer care.
“I know I’m in good hands with Dr. Goedde,” Kelly remembers thinking. “My husband felt 110 percent better after talking to both he and Claudia that day as well.”
Dr. Goedde performed a successful lumpectomy, and then Kelly began radiation, receiving treatment every day for four weeks under the guidance of Dr. Graybill and her wonderful staff. Following Kelly’s first appointment with Dr. Goedde, Holly Wright, another of Community’s nurse navigators, provided support for Kelly throughout the treatment process and beyond.
“From the moment I arrived at the surgery center for the lumpectomy and the cancer center throughout radiation, my experience could not have been better,” she said. “Every person treated me, and every other patient, like family. Male or female, old or young – the staff remembered every person’s named and treated them so delicately.”
Inspiring others to get mammograms
Today, Kelly continues to take chemotherapy medication and will for the next five years. She is an advocate of Community’s mammogram appointments and her experience has inspired others to get a mammogram. Among them, her sister-in-law, who hadn’t gone in years. She finally went after Kelly’s diagnosis and was also diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I had no lump or mass—the only way to detect this was through a mammogram,” Kelly said. “The cancer had been growing in me for years, and, if I had missed my mammogram, it might have progressed even more.”
It’s a message Kelly wants all women to know.
“If I can express one important thing from my experience, it is how extremely important it is for women to make sure they go each year to get their mammograms,” she said. “If I didn’t or decided to wait a few more years, my outcome might have been different for me and my family. I can say this particular mammogram saved my life.”