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With You All The Way - Maggie: 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 Puyallup resident Maggie Eastman and her family. She felt a lump in her breast during a self-exam on her birthday. There was no family history of cancer, and at age 32 she thought she was too young for something as serious as breast cancer. When two mammograms and two ultrasounds came back as inconclusive, it was time for the next step. Her family gathered around her as she continued to search for answers.

Family support

Maggie_Family

Maggie was referred to Lynne P. Clark, MD, FACS, a surgeon who specializes in breast cancer at Franciscan Surgical Associates in Tacoma for evaluation. At her initial appointment Dr. Clark felt a biopsy should be done even though the mammograms and ultrasounds were inconclusive. The biopsy was done immediately in her office. When the results were in, breast cancer was confirmed.

Maggie's parents, her brother and her sister participated in her treatment from the beginning. "I'm very lucky to have a wonderful support system," she said. "My family was in the room when my doctor told me I would have to have a mastectomy. To have them there, willing to hear the details without shying away, was enormously helpful."

Maggie's dad, Rick, was at every appointment. "From our perspective as parents and caregivers, Dr. Clark is an amazing lady. Her capacity for compassion, and at the same time getting right to the point, is pretty amazing. She can put you at ease and makes sure you understand both the seriousness and scope of what̠s going on."

Dr. Clark̠s entire staff helped make the difficult experience as bearable as possible by consistently demonstrating their dedication to Maggie's well-being. "The nurses connected with Maggie on a level you can only hope for," said Rick. "It was obvious they cared about her."

Better care

Dr. Clark’s approach to communication meets you right where you are. “I feel it is important to treat patients as individuals and respect them for their journey and what they are going through,” said Dr. Clark. “This journey is too important, and many times life-changing, to put a rush job on an appointment. I feel there is a need to take the time necessary to help my patients understand what is happening in their body and how we can best treat it.”

Maggie will forever be grateful for the relationships that she developed with Dr. Clark her nurses and staff. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but I have since talked with people who have gone through cancer treatments at other hospitals and they have been amazed at the level of compassion I’ve been shown — in addition to the great care I’ve received.”

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 Franciscan Cancer Center are here to provide you with clear information and to address any concerns. Our area’s leading team of providers, nurses and staff coordinate care to make sure everyone is on the same page. This means that starting from the moment we first see you and all the way through your treatment program, you can expect high-quality, compassionate care.