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Susan Foster is full of life. An active outdoor lover, she enjoys kayaking, motorcycling, snowmobiling, camping and hiking.
Following her breast cancer surgery and treatment at Henry Ford Allegiance Health, Susan celebrated with her first parasailing adventure.
Susan’s breast cancer was discovered while she was doing a routine self-examination at age 46. She was shocked to find a lump, but she quickly followed up with her primary care physician, who ordered a mammogram. Based on those results, Susan was referred to hematologist/oncologist Malcolm Trimble, MD, and general surgeon Phillip Frantzis, MD. Dr. Frantzis took a tissue sample (biopsy) that confirmed it was cancer.
“I do have a family history of breast cancer, but I just didn’t expect it to happen to me,” Susan said. “My first thought was how hard it was going to be to tell my husband, Phillip.”
Susan’s doctors discussed all the treatment options with her and Phillip, and they decided on a lumpectomy, which is surgery to remove just the tumor, followed by chemotherapy. Because Susan’s particular type of cancer has a 37 percent risk of recurrence, they also elected a full course of radiation therapy after chemotherapy was completed.
“I just wasn’t ready to have a mastectomy, and the doctors made it clear that it was my decision,” Susan said. “Both of them really listened to us and understood our concerns before they gave their opinions. They respected our choice and made us feel very supported from the beginning.”
“Both of them really listened to us and understood our concerns before they gave their opinions. They respected our choice and made us feel very supported from the beginning.”
-Susan Foster, breast cancer patient
The support that came from her care team, her family and her friends was very important to Susan. “I am a strong person, but support is what got me through the worst times.” She found one of the most helpful sources of support to be Henry Ford Allegiance Health’s Breast Cancer Patient Navigator Sharon Petri, RN. “Sharon was there for me right from my diagnosis to provide the information I needed and to help me through the process.”
Susan recalled one day at work when she was having a hard time and found herself crying. “Sharon happened to call me right at that moment, just to see how I was. She understands what it’s like, because she’s had cancer herself, and she is very compassionate.”
Susan also appreciated that her family was included in her care at Henry Ford Allegiance Health. “It was difficult for Phillip to see me in the hospital, but the staff treated him like my partner and put him at ease. I know it meant a lot to him,” she said.
The upbeat attitudes of Henry Ford Allegiance staff in the reception area of the Gayle M. Jacob Cancer Center helped set a positive tone for Susan’s appointments, she said. ”I always left there laughing, which was a great way to begin my sessions.”
A self-proclaimed “hometown kind of girl,” Susan said she “really appreciates being able to receive such great care so close to my home.” She added that if she had one thing to tell others facing cancer, “It would be to have your treatment at Henry Ford Allegiance. Not only is it an excellent, well-established cancer center, but you will never feel like a number. The one-on-one care is personal and supportive and you really get to know your team. Henry Ford Allegiance takes great care to handpick special people, and it shows.”
Grateful to be alive and healthy, Susan is enjoying every moment outdoors with Phillip and their children Sarah and Jeramy.
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