Lisa Freihofer had been a nurse for 33 years, but she had taken time off to stay home with her children so she was rusty when she returned to the nursing workforce.
To get up to speed, she took a nurse refresher course at Community Health Network, and the course instructor helped her secure a job at Community Cancer Center North. There, she started in radiation therapy and eventually moved to the medical oncology side.
Fast forward about seven years, when Lisa faced some personal hurdles that changed her outlook on life.
In the midst of this challenging time, Lisa visited Community Hospital North for her routine annual mammogram. Based on the results, Community radiologist Todd Mitchell, MD, wanted to do a biopsy. To prevent Lisa from having to wait, he gave up his lunch hour that same day to do the procedure.
"He was the kindest man," Lisa said. "It didn’t give me any time to worry about it, and I really appreciated that someone took the extra time to make my day better."
In a matter of days, Lisa had the results—she had breast cancer. She was able to make an appointment that day with Christina Kim, MD, an MD Anderson Cancer Network® certified physician specializing in breast surgery. During their visit, Dr. Kim talked through a plan with Lisa that included a lumpectomy.
Lisa also met with Radhika Walling, MD, an MD Anderson Cancer Network® certified physician practicing medical oncology who recommended radiation therapy under the care of Jianan Graybill, MD, an MD Anderson Cancer Network® certified physician practicing radiation oncology. In addition, Lisa was told she had a mid-level chance of the cancer returning following these treatment options, so she also opted to have chemotherapy.
In total, Lisa underwent 33 radiation and four chemotherapy treatments.
"Working at Community Cancer Center North, I knew about chemotherapy and radiation," she said. "Now, I understand breast cancer better."
In addition, Lisa has been touched by the support of her colleagues, who went above and beyond to be sure she wasn’t tired or feeling unwell.
"My patients have been supportive of me as well," she added. "This whole experience has helped me to be a better nurse who has seen it from both sides."
Today, Lisa is staying active and appreciating life with her family and friends. While she dislikes being the center of attention, she felt honored to be asked to participate in Faces of The Giving Gig 2017 and give back to so many patients she helps care for each day.