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With You All The Way - Heidi: Patient Stories

Beating breast cancer surrounded by love, support and top-notch care

About one in eight women will battle breast cancer

But many more lives are affected. Loved ones also share in this difficult, life-changing experience. And the caring support they offer during this journey can make all the difference.

Just ask Sumner residents, Heidi Geise and her husband, Paul. When their lives were affected by a breast cancer diagnosis, Heidi and Paul turned to our area̠s best care at St. Francis Breast Clinic.

The power of a routine exam


Heidi was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 57 after a routine annual mammogram. Her gynecologist referred her to the cancer multidisciplinary team at St. Francis Breast Clinic — a move that Heidi looks back on with gratitude. “I appreciated the way they worked with me and helped me to deal with the fact that I had just been diagnosed with something that wasn’t good,” she said. “I felt like they were taking care of me. It was the right place to be.”

Heidi’s husband, Paul, was by her side during the six-month treatment process which included surgery and then chemo at St. Francis Hospital and breast reconstruction at St. Joseph Medical Center. Paul was tasked with bringing a notepad to appointments so they could write down the doctor’s responses to questions he or Heidi asked. “You want to know what’s going on, and they didn’t hold anything back,” he shared. “They said, ‘This is what’s going to happen but you will get through it.’”

The situation was unfamiliar. But Heidi’s treatment team guided the couple through the process. “I trusted the doctors,” said Paul. “They knew what they were doing and they attacked the problem. There was no waiting around. It was ‘Let’s get this done. Let’s take care of this and get you back on recovery.’ I was duly impressed with that.”

The couple’s son, John, was away at college when his mom was diagnosed. Through frequent phone calls his dad relayed information and kept him up-to-date with how treatment was progressing. His parents’ confidence in the Virginia Mason Franciscan Health team eased some of the anxiety and made a difficult situation more bearable.

A team approach

The team works together in a multidisciplinary function to explore all options and ensure the best possible care. Heidi appreciated the team’s communication. “Everyone knew what everyone else was doing. I didn’t have to worry about whether or not one person was doing something that another person wouldn’t know about, or worry about whether or not something would be approved,” she said. “They were a team working on my team.”

At Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, we’re in it together

After a cancer diagnosis, there is a lot of information to take in and decisions to be made. That’s why the experts at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health are here to provide you with clear information and to address any concerns. Starting from the moment we first see you and all the way through your treatment program, you get high-quality, compassionate care and follow-up.

Cancer care at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is provided by expert networked partners including: Virginia Mason, Northwest Medical Specialties, Tacoma Radiation Oncology, TRA Medical Imaging, and the Puget Sound Institute of Pathology.