"I was relieved of so much stress. Everyone deserves an advocate."
"Guardian scrutinized every step of the process and didn't let a thing past them."
Carmen is an interior designer living in New York City. In 2012 she discovered two tumors in one of her breasts.
[Treatment for invasive breast cancer usually involves some combination of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone and/or targeted therapy. The specific treatment depends on the cancer stage and the genotype of the tumor.]
She felt the premiere cancer center where she went in NYC would provide the best cutting edge advice and treatment. However, she was immediately faced with two different recommendations from the same medical center. The first was for a complete double mastectomy while a second surgeon recommended a single lumpectomy.
Overwhelmed by the diagnosis, the treatment recommendations, and the pressure to make a decision right away, Carmen contacted Guardian for help.
Guardian noticed that the two recommendations were made without knowing the genetic characteristics of the cancer which can tell doctors how well the tumor will respond to specific drugs and can predict speed of progression. Her advocate arranged for a consultation with an oncologist who ordered the test. It showed her tumor was of the type ER positive. A third surgeon contacted by Carmen's advocate recommended a partial mastectomy.
As she prepared for surgery her gynecologist surprised her with a recommendation for a hysterectomy to be performed at the same time as the breast surgery. This was based on the results of a PET scan done earlier. A hysterectomy would have added several hours to what was already going to be a 10-hour operation. Her advocate helped her ask for additional tests and a second opinion was obtained which concluded that a hysterectomy was not necessary.
Carmen's surgery was a success. Now came the difficult chemotherapy phase of her treatment. Guardian made sure Carmen had round-the-clock assistance at home by coordinating the efforts of friends and family who volunteered their time. However, this was not enough to overcome the hellish nausea caused by chemotherapy which seemed to affect Carmen more intensely than most. The standard medication to combat this nausea is dexamethasone. However, the anxiety it can produce was no more tolerable for Carmen than the nausea itself. Guardian researched alternatives and discovered a relatively new medication that did not produce these side effects. Her advocate supported Carmen in convincing her treatment team to allow her to take the medication. It worked like magic.
Guardian helped Carmen cope psychologically with the bouts of anxiety and depression during chemotherapy and radiation. She learned to visualize her body as a war zone. By seeing the chemotherapy and the radiation as fighters for her cause annihilating remaining cancer cells she was better able to tolerate the discomfort.
Guardian helped Carmen regain her strength and vitality by providing her with an exercise schedule that was both realistic and challenging, teaching her about how diet can affect recurrence prevention, and practicing techniques for reducing stress. Carmen is now cancer free and following her recurrence prevention plan.