When Barbara, new mom of a one-year-old boy, discovered a lump in her breast she never imagined that it could be cancer and waited two months before finally having it checked. In her mind, she did not have time for cancer. In fact, the day she had her mammogram at the Breast Center at Saddleback Medical Center, she was scheduled for a job interview.

A biopsy was done on the lump and it was determined to be cancerous. From that point on, Barbara took direction from Saddleback Medical Center's cancer nurse navigator who walked her through everything – from helping her understand her diagnosis to coordinating appointments and tests. At the recommendation of her physician Kenneth B. Deck, MD, Barbara underwent genetic testing to understand her risk for cancer. From those results, she made the decision to have a double mastectomy, reconstructive breast surgery and her ovaries removed – all in one six-hour procedure. She later had four more reconstructive breast surgeries and underwent chemotherapy. Unfortunately, a year later Barbara had a reoccurrence of cancer in her lymph nodes.

Barbara was grateful that her team of physicians all worked together to figure out why the cancer came back. After some testing, they determined that the best treatment plan for Barbara’s type of cancer was for her to start chemotherapy and radiation therapy at the same time. Every day for approximately eight weeks, she underwent radiation therapy at Saddleback Medical Center's Meiklejohn Radiation Oncology Center and chemotherapy at another location.

About 12 years since first being diagnosed with cancer, Barbara is still cancer free and has since changed her lifestyle taking more time for herself, making healthier food choices and exercising more. She also volunteers her time sharing her story with other cancer patients, encouraging them to fight.

What Barbara appreciates most about her care at Saddleback Medical Center was that she always felt like there was a team of people working with her and she was not alone.