A global pandemic didn’t stop Sydelle Lepoff of Mission Viejo from scheduling her annual mammogram back in October of 2020. Both of her parents passed away from cancer, so she never misses this appointment.
She is so grateful she scheduled that appointment — the radiologist at MemorialCare Breast Center at Saddleback Medical Center discovered a troublesome spot. The results of the biopsy showed a small invasive ductal carcinoma, what she had feared ... cancer.
Sydelle, age 74, knows how lucky she is that she came to Saddleback to have a 3D mammogram, purchased with the help of philanthropic donations from the community.
“A regular 2D mammogram wouldn’t have caught this,” she said.
She’s also fortunate because all the radiologists at the Breast Center at Saddleback Medical Center are fellowship-trained and focus only on reading breast images. Nicole Lewis, M.D., read Sydelle’s mammogram and detected her small tumor. Sydelle was then connected to our highly experienced breast cancer navigator, Jackie Hower, who compassionately guides patients through each stage of their treatment plan and recovery.
“Jackie helped me not be afraid,” said Sydelle. Sydelle was referred to Nora Evans, M.D., one of Saddleback Medical Center’s esteemed surgeons, who recommended a lumpectomy. It was scheduled for December, two months from the day of her diagnosis.
I was a nervous wreck, but Dr. Evans really calmed me.
On the day of her surgery, she recalls the white hazmat-like suits of every person in the operating room, taking extra safety precautions because of COVID-19. Dr. Evans finished in about 30 minutes, and today Sydelle doesn’t even have a scar and feels wonderful.
Sydelle’s radiation oncologist told her before Christmas that she wouldn’t need radiation, and her oncologist, Sarah Hassan, M.D., also confirmed she would not need chemotherapy. What a gift!
Philanthropic gifts have made a major impact on cancer services; community donations helped renovate and relocate the MemorialCare Cancer Institute and Damsker Family Pavilion to its current location in 2016.
“I want to remind women to get those mammograms,” said Sydelle. “Cancer doesn’t care, so you’ve got to take care of yourself.”