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Caleb Angus

Amy Brink
He began by saying unfortunately, and that is all I heard. No one expects to get cancer,
me least of all. In fact, when I was diagnosed I was the healthiest I had been in years, or so I had
thought. My surgeon looked me in the eyes and told me that the Biopsies had revealed that all
three of my tumors were malignant. He recommended a mastectomy because of the location
of the tumors in my breast. Immediately waves of terror flowed over my numb body, my head
began to spin, and then the questions began. How could this be happening? What about my
kids? What will I tell them? Where will I get treated? What will the treatment be?
Mastectomy?!
The next step was finding the perfect place to get treatment. I had seen commercials for
the CTCA, but I did not really know anything about it; in fact, I might have never come to the
CTCA if not for my husband, and a chance encounter. A few weeks before my diagnosis my
husband went to a political event in Philadelphia. There a lobbyist friend of his introduced him
to two men who happened to be executives at the CTCA. When I got my diagnosis, my husband
reached out to his lobbyist friend for a favor: could he please give him the name of someone at
ECMC to contact to seek a second opinion. Within an hour my husband received an email from
CTCA representatives saying not to worry, and that I would be seen as soon as possible. That
turned out to be a few days later.
As soon as I walked into the CTCA facility I knew it was where I was going to have my
treatment done. I immediately felt that I would be taken care of in the manner that meant the
most to me, holistically. My doctors created a treatment plan that was tailored to my treatment
needs. When the doctors were about to do surgery, they discovered two more tumors and
extensive lymphoid involvement. Once they made those discoverys my doctors altered my
treatment plan to match my new needs. I walked into surgery with stage one and walked out
with stage 3C. did my oncologist panic? No, Dr. Kazmi looked me right in the eyes and said, I
am not at all happy to hear this, but we are going to change gears and hit you with everything
we have got. I ended up receiving six rounds of very heavy-duty chemo, followed by 28
rounds of radiation. My oncologist told me that she thought that I would be able to handle the
intense therapy because I was young and healthy. It was not fun, but I did it!
The team of physicians that worked with me were amazing throughout my
treatment. My surgeon, Dr. Sandiford, was fantastic; he personally called me the day after my
diagnosis to discuss his thoughts about my case. He also gave me his cellphone number and
encouraged me to call him if I had any questions or concerns. He told me that he had
handpicked my caregiving team and that he knew that they would work together to get the
best possible outcome. Dr. Kazmi, my oncologist, perfectly matched my needs. She is a no
nonsense tell it like it is kind of doctor and I appreciated that. I did not want things sugar
coated. I needed to know what I was facing, so that I knew what I was fighting. Dr. Fernandez,
the plastic surgeon, and his PA, Audrey, are such good people. We laughed a lot during my
appointments, and as the days faded into months they began to feel like a part of my family. Dr.
Fernandez is extremely particular about his work and I appreciated that. He not only re-made
my breasts, but help re-make my sense of being a woman. I truly love and respect all of these
individuals.
I am generally a positive person, one of those people who thinks that everything
happens for a reason. But I had a hard time figuring out the reason why I got cancer. What good
could possibly come out of something so evil? The only reason that I could come up with was
that I got this illness so I could now help others as they waged their own personal war on
cancer. Since my treatments I have helped a good friend, and the mother of my best friend
through their treatments. It has been immensely satisfying to be able to give these people my
perspective, tips, advice, and support as they go through a really frightening time in their lives.
I never did and never will let cancer get in the way of my life. My youngest son turned
16 less than a month after my diagnosis, and I had my 50th birthday just a few weeks after my
mastectomy. I rarely missed one of my sons sporting events, and I got to celebrate the son of
my good friends wedding in the middle of my radiation treatment. My middle son graduated
from college and you had better believe that I was there. Cancer changed my life but it never
controlled it. I lived with cancer, and now I will celebrate without it.

Trenton