Louisville Magazine

OCT 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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1 0 2 0 1 8 B r e a s t H e a l t h S e c t i o n SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION At 41, getting her first mammogram was on Brandy Patton's radar. The Albany, Kentucky mother of two just hadn't scheduled it yet. After feeling a lump in her breast, she made an appointment with her local gynecologist, who scheduled Brandy for her first mammogram and ultrasound at Kentucky Breast Center in Somerset, Kentucky. Based on the abnormal results, Dr. Andrea Woodroof scheduled a diagnostic mammogram, biopsy and MRI. Ultimately, three masses were identified, two of which had been covered by the largest one in the initial mammogram. On February 5, 2018, Brandy was diagnosed with Stage II, HER2 amplified, ER (estrogen receptor) negative breast cancer. "Where would you send your daughter in this situation?" Brandy asked Dr. Woodroof. Without hesitation she recommended UofL James Graham Brown Cancer Center, 150 miles away in Louisville. This is where Brandy would meet Dr. Elizabeth Riley, her medical oncologist, and Dr. Nicolas Ajkay, her surgeon. Brandy tells her story in three chapters, the way Drs. Riley and Ajkay first shared their plans for her. Chapter One: "Bad" Chemo Brandy chose to enroll in a clinical trial offered to her based on her age and cancer type. She describes her cancer type as aggressive, growing fast outside of cells and inviting healthy cells to join. The "bad" chemo would be her first step in stopping it. After receiving the blessing to start treatment from a cardiologist and having a port placed, she began the eight-week "Red Devil" chemo treatment February 15. Within 17 days she'd lost her hair, Brandy's biggest heartbreak next to the cancer diagnosis itself. Chapter Two: "Different" Chemo and "Maintenance" Drugs In April, Brandy finished the "bad" chemo and began a 12- week schedule of Taxol along with Herceptin and Perjeta. She will continue Herceptin and Perjeta for a full year to complete "maintenance" therapy. These "different" chemo drugs caused a lesser set of side effects. Chapter Three: Surgery On July 23, even though chemo had rendered her cancer free, Brandy had a bilateral mastectomy and removal of four lymph nodes. She went home the next day with four drains. In August, she said goodbye to the drains and went back to work. Soon she will meet with Dr. Harriet Eldredge-Hindy to consider radiation therapy. She'll also continue with routine follow-ups at UofL Brown Cancer Center. The Rest of the Story How and why did Brandy consistently make this 150-mile trek to Louisville? How: Her parents helped tremendously. They live about 30 minutes from her and kept her children's lives as normal as possible. Brandy's loyal beau took off work to drive her to Louisville. It was tough. With nausea meds and steroids, she managed to feel pretty good most days, but she also accepted being couch-bound for days at a time. Her journal entries kept a record of how she felt each day. While her two-year-old son didn't understand, her 13-year-old daughter played a critical role. Brandy identifies her children as both her biggest supporters and biggest distractors throughout it all. Why: Brandy drove the distance because she knew she was receiving expert care. She also attests that staff at the UofL Brown Cancer Center knew her by name within the first week and treated her like family. During chemo she was placed in a "pod," where she established close connections with other patients throughout hours of treatment. UofL Brown Cancer Center also offered on-demand counseling, free wigs and scarves, provided volunteers and taught her how to redefine herself — applying makeup without a hairline, as an example. UofL Brown Cancer Center knows breast cancer in young women is biologically different from the cancer older women get. Younger women face a myriad of challenges, which often aren't talked about prior to the initiation of treatment, such as the impact of treatment on fertility or the impact a cancer diagnosis has on the patient's children. The HER program at UofL Brown Cancer Center, which stands for hope for cure, empowerment of choice in therapy and risk and restoration after cancer treatment, addresses these challenges with regional experts in the management of breast cancer in young women. Patients 45 and younger are automatically enrolled and referred for medical, research and/or support services. The HER program helps patients live life as normally as possible while undergoing treatment and prepares them to move forward as cancer survivors. As Brandy moves forward as a cancer survivor, she's thankful for the specialized doctors at UofL Brown Cancer Center who wrote her cancer chapters and the staff who treated her like family. Whitney Pitman, medical oncology nurse practitioner at UofL Brown Cancer Center, praises Brandy's grateful and uplifting spirit throughout the process. Now Brandy is contemplating how she can help other women with their chapters. Brandy Patton writes and lives survivor chapters

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