Diane McClyment's Story
It was October of 2013, and I was about four months overdue for my annual mammogram. No real reason, just procrastination. When I finally did have one done, I was called back for an abnormality. Then, after the second one, a biopsy was ordered - which is an experience in and of itself, something like an alien abduction. The results were breast cancer, though luckily very small. The first doctors I saw in another healthcare system were recommending radical procedures: full mastectomy, reconstruction, etc. They were concerned about how much radiation therapy I could receive because I had lymphoma 25 years ago, and had had a LOT of radiation therapy in the same area to treat it. I was not happy with this route.
I had been discussing this whole situation from the first callback with my friend, Karen Cherelstein, who had breast cancer a few years earlier. She recommended I meet Dr. Gary Cohen for a second opinion. The minute I met him, I knew he was the right doctor for me. He even tried to contact my doctors from 25 years ago in New York to determine the amount of radiation given. Dr. Cohen introduced me to Dr. Lauren Schnaper within just a couple of days, and she explained absolutely everything to my husband and me. She took her time, wrote everything out for us about the surgery process, and even drew us pictures. I knew exactly what she was going to do.
The surgery went very well, too, with no pain. There was just one little line from the incision that to this day I call my “boring straight line tattoo.” Next, a couple of weeks later (between Christmas and New Years, of all times), I met Dr. Geoffrey Neuner, my radiation oncologist. He suggested what I call a "one and your done" radiation treatment. I was a perfect candidate for that since the tumor was small, the margins were clear, and I was in the right age range. It was so great for me that I found myself asking, “Why wouldn’t others do it?” Dr. Neuner said some people don’t want to go back into the operating room - no problem here. I liked the idea.
I still wasn’t sure what was going to happen, so I called Dr. Schnaper. She told me I was going to be their guinea pig (which is why I gave her a guinea pig calendar the morning of the radiation procedure!). They had never done this before at GBMC. So, that morning, it was like a big party in the surgical suite: Dr. Schnaper and her partner, Dr.Neuner and his partner and two doctors flew in from Chicago to guide them. I guess everyone wanted to see how it was done, and all went smoothly, perfectly, with no pain and no problems at all. All follow-up visits have been great, and I look forward to seeing the GBMC doctors each time.
I continue to see Dr. Cohen every six months. In September of 2014, he asked how I felt about my weight, and the answer was “awful.” I didn’t know what to do about it. He gave me some information about a joint clinical trial being held by GMBC and Johns Hopkins. A research nurse called me, we discussed it, and I knew the program was for me. I started the program in October of 2014, and now, six months later, I have lost 27 pounds and four inches off my waist. I’m down four sizes!
The program is really easy - counting calories and exercise - and I think the accountability factor is what works best for me. Logging calories and activities each day makes you very aware of what is going on. It was also helpful that I am in the Power Remote Group (as opposed to the self-directed group) and have had a weekly talk with Dr. Colleen, a clinical psychologist specializing in eating disorders. While I never thought of having an eating disorder, talking with her has been invaluable! I needed the very structured program. We set very reasonable goals, and she is so encouraging. She even tells me that it’s okay to eat pepperoni pizza every once in a while. The weight loss has improved my overall health so much. I don’t have the knee pain I had before, and of course, just love the compliments from friends and family!