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Examiner
  • Survivor stories: A diagnosis can surprise even health professionals

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  • Early checkups make a difference.
    For Terri Schorr of Grain Valley, a simple precaution caught breast cancer early, making treatment simpler and quicker.
    “It probably saved my life,” she says.
    Schorr, a registered nurse in the cardiac cath lab at Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence, had a regular checkup with her gynecologist last spring. She’s only 47, had no family history of breast cancer and showed no symptoms, but it had been three years since her last routine mammogram and the doctor suggested one.
    She did that, and that led to a call-back for a second look. That led to further tests, which led to a needle biopsy and then a diagnosis: invasive ductal carcinoma, stage one.
    “Well, (it was) shocking, obviously, because you’re told that you have cancer but you don’t have the extent of it,” she said.
    And she adds, “One thing I will say: Telling your family members is the worst.”
    She and a surgeon weighed the options – a mastectomy or a lumpectomy – and she chose a lumpectomy. There also were 25 treatments of radiation. Co-workers helped out by rearranging schedules so she could do her treatments. On the day of her surgery, cardiovascular services team at Centerpoinrt wore pink T-shirts for “Team Terri” and wristbands that said “Team Terri, we love you.”
    The last round of radiation was Sept. 6.
    “The worst thing with radiation is fatigue,” she says, adding that she’s feeling much better now.
    She’s a survivor – “But there’s always the risk of it coming back,” she says. That means more frequent mammograms for awhile.
    In all of this – the concern, the diagnosis, the treatment and recovery, the support of family and friends – she sees hope.
    “I would tell people ... getting a diagnosis (of cancer) that there are resources out there,” she says, “and they’re not alone – and there’s hope.”
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