The care was excellent. The nurses – I can’t say enough – they were great.

Sandy, Bronson Employee and Patient

From primary care to help with more serious health issues, Sandy had always chose Bronson. So when she found a strange lump in her breast 19 years ago, Sandy knew exactly who to call.

“I’ve always trusted Bronson and the doctors there,” Sandy says. “They really care for you as a person.”

Sandy was doing her monthly self-exam when she discovered a lump in her breast. Knowing that it could potentially be something serious, she made the decision to see her physician, Dr. Leonard O’Neill of Bronson Internal Medicine Associates, for some answers. He carefully reviewed her case then referred her to surgeon Dr. Mark Dittenbir. After evaluating the lump, Dr. Dittenbir determined that although the lump was small, she should have it removed. A biopsy was done and it was discovered that the lump was, in fact, cancerous.

No easy news to handle, Dr. Dittenbir personally called Sandy to share the news with her and to discuss a plan going forward. “Dr. Dittenbir was always upfront with me. I trust him with my life,” Sandy stated. Dr. Dittenbir invited Sandy and her husband to his office to discuss their options, listen to their concerns and explain what he would be doing. “I didn’t want to be put to sleep for the surgery, but Dr. Dittenbir put my mind at ease,” Sandy recalled. “He held my hand while I was being put to sleep and gave me so much comfort.”

Sandy eventually recovered and maintained her bi-annual checkups with Dr. Dittenbir to ensure she remained in good health standings. At one of her regular mammograms, just two years ago, Sandy had a familiar reoccurrence and there was another lump in her breast. She returned to her doctor again where they performed two different types of mammograms and an ultrasound. The radiologist called Sandy the next day to tell her that the new lump was also cancerous. “When they asked me what surgeon I wanted to go to I said ‘Dr. Dittenbir,’” Sandy stated.

She then made the personal decision to have both breasts removed instead of just the one that had the tumor. This turned out to be the best decision for Sandy since her other breast had two precancerous spots as well. After the removal of the tumor, Dr. Marcia Liepman of the West Michigan Cancer Center wanted the tumor to be tested to confirm whether or not she had the breast cancer (BRCA) gene. Sandy received the good news that she doesn’t have the BRCA gene which increases a woman’s chances of developing breast or ovarian cancer.

Sandy then pursued chemotherapy treatment at the West Michigan Cancer Center. After her first treatment, she had a severe pain in her abdomen which she later learned was a bowel infection. She discussed her options again with Dr. Dittenbir, and was eventually hospitalized for two weeks. “The care was excellent. The nurses – I can’t say enough – they were great. For two weeks in the hospital I felt like I was in a hotel room,” Sandy said. She was then released with the good news that she had an 87 percent chance of not getting cancer again.

Sandy has learned many different lessons from these experiences which have helped her help others. “I have a lot more compassion for others and I am far more understanding. I have also learned to take one day at a time and make each day happy. The more you smile, the more it makes others happier,” Sandy stated.

When asked if everything is okay now, Sandy says, “87 percent- yes!”