In January 2020, Judy Fike was preparing for a medical procedure, when she felt a lump in her breast. About a week later, she mentioned the lump to her primary care physician during her pre-operative appointment. As soon as her physician felt the lump, she immediately referred Judy for a mammogram.
“I was nervous because they performed a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy all during one appointment, but they told me that I would have the results the next day,” says Judy.
One day after her appointment, Judy received her stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis. Judy was seen by a medical oncologist who advised her to undergo chemotherapy as the first step in her treatment of triple-negative breast cancer. After meeting with her medical oncologist, she was referred to a surgical oncologist to remove the cancer.
“I decided to meet with multiple surgeons,” says Judy. “The first two were nice, but after I met with Jessica Rayhanabad, M.D., and we discussed oncoplastic breast surgery, I felt connected to her. She didn’t give off the vibe of a doctor, she was just a fellow woman.”
Dr. Rayhanabad, medical director, breast surgery, MemorialCare Breast Center, Long Beach Medical Center, specializes in oncoplastic breast surgery, which uses plastic surgery techniques in combination with breast cancer surgery. The goal with this approach is to reshape the breast to provide the patient with a more aesthetically beautiful result. The breast is reshaped to maintain its natural look and feel while minimizing any deformity, which may result from the removal of breast tissue.
“This type of conservation surgery is a ‘win-win.’ Not only is the cancer removed, but the breast is reshaped to improve the appearance of the breast at the same time,” says Dr. Rayhanabad. “This is the best combination of science and art.”
Dr Rayhanabad and Farbod Esmailian, M.D., plastic surgeon, Long Beach Medical Center, worked together to remove Judy’s cancer and reshape her breast. Following her surgery, Judy received a call from Dr. Rayhanabad to let her know that no cancer was found in her lymph nodes and the cancer, which had been detected in her breast, had been melted away by her chemotherapy treatment.
“She was so happy to tell me that they didn’t find any additional cancer, that she called me herself,” says Judy. “We talked for about 30 minutes. Dr. Rayhanabad is so personable and down-to-earth. I’m grateful that I found her.”
Before surgery, Judy completed several rounds of chemotherapy, and now after surgery is going through radiation treatments – five days per week for six weeks. During her chemotherapy treatments, she began taking an immunotherapy drug, which is a cutting-edge treatment designed to boost Judy’s own immune system. This treatment acts on Judy’s immune system to teach her body how to identify the breast cancer cells and destroy them.
“The entire care team throughout MemorialCare has been incredible,” says Judy. “The doctors and hospitals have great communication with each other and I always knew I was in good hands.”