I chose to have my surgery performed at Bronson because I know it’s the best team.

Shannon, Bronson Employee and Patient

Shannon, a wife and mother of three, leads a busy life. Taking care of her family, attending all of her children’s sporting events, working full-time and volunteering fill much of her time. “As a mom and wife, it is easy to put yourself last,” Shannon explains.

Knowing how essential it is to take care of her health, Shannon made the decision to get a mammogram. The year before, Shannon had a screening mammogram because she had found a lump.  This, to her relief, had been benign. “It made me realize how important it is to take care of myself.” As a follow-up to her first mammogram, Shannon chose to have a 3D mammogram. Shannon had been unsure about the additional cost for a 3D mammogram, but she felt thankful that she went with her gut feeling. The results of this mammogram concluded that there was, in fact, something wrong, but there still wasn’t a concrete answer. The new discovery warranted follow-up with an ultrasound and a biopsy. “I have three small children at home, and if it was something, we needed to get rid of it,” Shannon explains.  Dr. Jacobs, a radiologist, did the needle-localized biopsy and spoke with Shannon about the results. The biopsy concluded that Shannon had HER2/neu+, PR+, ER+ cancer, a type of breast cancer that is fast growing. After the realization of her cancer diagnosis set in, Shannon’s family physician, Dr. Melissa Davidson, spent time with her and her husband and gave  them support and direction.

Shannon thought that at the age of 40 she would need a complete radical mastectomy, the entire removal of both breasts. She sought out Dr. Nancy Kalinowski as soon as she received the news. “Dr. Kalinowski was the best. I was nervous about the diagnosis and what it could mean to me as a woman, wife, and mother” Shannon explains. However, instead of having a complete radical mastectomy, Shannon learned that she only needed a lumpectomy, a less radical surgery that removes the cancerous lump. “Dr. Kalinowski was honest with me regarding the need for chemotherapy with my aggressive type of cancer and got me on her schedule and developed quickly the perfect plan for me”.

“I chose to have my surgery performed at Bronson because I know it’s the best team. From the pre-op, to OR, to anesthesia, and nurses in my post-op care in outpatient surgery, things couldn’t have gone smoother. I had such a wonderful team behind me,” Shannon says.

As follow up to her surgery, aggressive chemotherapy was administered at the West Michigan Cancer Center. The staff there gave wonderful advice to Shannon and her husband about how to explain the changes in her energy levels and other side effects of the treatments to her children. This was a difficult time for the whole family as they were adjusting to all the changes in their daily lives.  Shannon says the support she has been getting from her family, co-workers, and the community has helped her keep going and maintain a positive attitude. While she is still undergoing treatment, she is able to go to her children’s games, work full-time and spend plenty of time with her family. “Cancer has made me stop and appreciate the little things, slow down, enjoy my husband, kids, friends and family. Your days here on earth are not indefinite. Enjoy every second, as much as possible.”

Shannon’s advice for others is to be proactive and get tested; it could save your life just like it helped save hers.