Marianne Ramirez – Breast Cancer Patient
When Marianne Ramirez heard she had advanced breast cancer, the first thing she thought about was her daughter’s upcoming wedding. Married 27 years, Marianne has two grown daughters; her eldest was getting married in several months.
"I was devastated," said Marianne. "I was told I had stage three breast cancer and all I could think of was my oldest daughter was getting married in October and I wanted to be around for that very special day."
Marianne received the difficult news on April 29 that she had infiltrating ductal carcinoma, stage IIIA. Tumors that form in the ducts are referred to as ductal carcinoma, whereas cancer that has spread to other parts of the breast is called infiltrating or invasive carcinoma. Infiltrating ductal carcinoma (IDC) is the most common type of breast cancer and accounts for about 80 percent of invasive breast cancers. Stage III (A, B, or C) is also called locally advanced cancer.
From the time she got the news, what stands out in Marianne’s mind is how quickly she went from being newly diagnosed to starting chemotherapy. In May, she met her team of doctors: surgeon Andrea Metkus, M.D., oncologist Brian Henderson, M.D., and radiation oncologist Loan Tran, M.D.
“The call came April 29, and I started chemotherapy May 12,” said Marianne. “I was never so scared, but I can’t tell you how helpful everyone was.”
Before having surgery, Marianne underwent eight rounds of chemotherapy, ending in August. With the right “cocktail” of chemotherapy drugs, and in what Marianne refers to as “the miraculous hands of Dr. Henderson,” her cancer was shrinking daily. She also tolerated the treatment well, experiencing no sickness.
“My younger daughter moved home to help me during the chemo,” said Marianne. “She thought I was holding out on her, because I was doing so well.”
Marianne completed her chemotherapy treatments in late August, and scheduled surgery for October 22; 12 days after her eldest daughter’s wedding. Given the advanced stage of her cancer, Marianne opted for a double mastectomy, followed by reconstruction. She was in for a wonderful surprise by the time her surgery date rolled around.
“When they did my bilateral mastectomy, the pathology report showed that there was no cancer in my breast tissue at all,” she said. “The chemo worked, it was miraculous.”
As of now, Marianne is cancer-free and she’s relishing life’s simple pleasures. She spends her days much as she did before her breast cancer diagnosis and during treatment: gardening, spending time with family and enjoying the outdoors. She has a special place in her heart for her doctors and nurses at Mills, in particular the nurses at the infusion center.
“From the receptionists to the nurses and doctors, everyone was always so warm and caring,” said Marianne. “I can’t express how grateful I am to everybody.”