Exceptional People. Extraordinary Breast Cancer Care. Every Time.
Medical expertise and state-of-the-art technology are hallmarks of the MemorialCare Breast Center at Orange Coast Medical Center. But according to cancer patient Maxine Verch, so are kindness, encouragement and caring.
Throughout her career in human resources, Maxine Verch, 68, recognized plenty of people who went above and beyond the call of duty. But it wasn’t until she was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer at Orange Coast Medical Center, that she truly appreciated the influence that exceptional people had on her state-of-mind.
“When you receive a cancer diagnosis, the world seems to stop,” says Maxine. “You find it hard to wrap your mind around the idea that your body has a disease, yet you feel fine. My care team at the MemorialCare Breast Center at Orange Coast Medical Center helped me understand what was happening to my body and let me know they cared about me every step of the way.”
ARMY OF SUPPORT
Maxine’s odyssey began in January 2015 when her annual mammogram showed a possible malignancy. A follow-up mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy confirmed the frightening truth.
“My primary care physician, Cambria Hembree, M.D., referred me to Dr. Kakkis.” “She told me, ‘If it was my family or me, this is where I would go.’”
Maxine was able to schedule a next-day consultation with Jane Kakkis, M.D., director of breast surgery at Orange Coast Medical Center, and a dedicated oncoplastic surgeon, who specializes in breast cancer treatment.
“From then on, everything moved at the speed of sound,” recalls Maxine. “Dr. Kakkis immediately ordered a breast MRI and pre-surgery lab work. By the time the MRI report came back, I was cleared for surgery.”
On the day of surgery, medical director of breast imaging Richard Reitherman, M.D., guided thin wires into the area around the tumors, and Dr. Kakkis skillfully performed a lumpectomy, where the tumor was removed from Maxine’s breast.
“There were multiple areas involved in the same breast and, as it turns out, two types of cancer,” says Dr. Kakkis. “Fortunately, we were able to take a breast-conserving approach to treatment.”
Maxine adds, “I did not want to lose my breast, and Dr. Kakkis believes in listening to what the patient wants. She always told me we’d take it step-by-step, together, and we did.”
After two lumpectomies, Maxine began radiation therapy. In August, Maxine will finish her radiation treatment, and continue on the path to living cancer-free. Her expert team of specialists at Orange Coast Medical Center will follow her closely, with mammograms and additional imaging tests and exams twice a year for two years, then yearly thereafter.
CORNERSTONE TO CARE
Approximately one in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. However, with advanced screening technology, breast cancer can be found in its earliest, most curable stage.
“Too often, by the time a patient actually feels a tumor during a self exam, it has already spread beyond the breast,” says Dr. Kakkis. “A mammogram is one of the imaging methods available to help us detect breast cancer while it’s small, before it has spread to other parts of the body.”
At the Breast Center at Orange Coast Medical Center, breast cancer diagnosis and treatment involves a highly collaborative team of physicians, nurses and other breast specialists who gather weekly for the “Tumor Board.” During these multidisciplinary meetings, cancer cases are presented, the full spectrum of treatment options is considered, and highly customized treatment plans are created for each patient.
“This is a true meeting of the minds. Specialists, from breast surgeons and radiation oncologists, to nurse navigators and dietitians, collaborate to create a comprehensive plan that accounts for all the possible pathways,” says Dr. Kakkis. “By coming together, we’re able to expedite and coordinate the entire care process, all with the patient at the center of our focus.”
During her road to recovery, Maxine found comfort in the exceptional medical expertise, professionalism and extraordinary kindness of those treating her at the Breast Center.
“You cannot control the challenges life will bring you,” she explains, “but you do have choices as to how they are handled. I was blessed to have all these experts from Orange Coast Medical Center take care of me during one of the most difficult times of my life.”
To schedule your mammogram, please call (714) 378-7955.