Advanced breast cancer surgery enables a young law student to follow her dream.

Advanced Breast Cancer Surgery Enables a Young Law student to Follow Her Dream.

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Grecia Nunez underwent successful treatment for breast cancer and reconstruction at MedStar Health.Grecia Nuñez was on her way to attaining the American dream. Her parents had come to the United States from Mexico to create a better life for their children. Grecia was the first in her family to go to college. But this independent, spirited young woman did not stop there. Determined to make a difference in the world, Grecia moved to Washington, D.C., to pursue a law degree.

But in her second year of law school, while home for winter break, the trajectory of her life suddenly changed when she felt a small, hard lump in her right breast.

“I knew women get cysts that aren’t serious, so I wasn’t worried at first, but it felt different, so when I got back to school in February [2022], I made an appointment with my Ob/Gyn, Marian Wulf-Gutierrez, MD, at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital [now retired]. When Dr. Wulf-Gutierrez felt the lump, I saw her face change and I knew this could be serious,” says Grecia. Her doctor ordered an immediate ultrasound and biopsy. The results came back positive for breast cancer.

“I was 29 and had stage two triple-negative breast cancer. I was scared,” says Grecia.

Grecia then met Lucy De La Cruz, MD, chief of the Breast Surgery program and director of the Ourisman Breast Center at MedStar Georgetown. “I liked her immediately. It was so inspiring to meet another Latina woman who was a highly respected surgeon. I am faith-based and believe people are put in your path at the right time. Dr. De La Cruz was exactly the guide I needed. She was warm, honest, and direct, letting me know this would not be easy, but she was there for me and explained everything. She listened and addressed my concerns,” says Grecia.

Grecia Nunez underwent successful treatment for breast cancer and reconstruction at MedStar Health.“Grecia had a very aggressive form of breast cancer that tends to grow and spread fast, so we needed to get her treatment right away,” explains Dr. De La Cruz. “We started her on chemotherapy for three months to shrink the 1.9 centimeter tumor.”

Once the chemotherapy was completed, surgery was scheduled.

On the day of Grecia’s surgery, Dr. De La Cruz performed a nipple-sparing double mastectomy. In this procedure, most of the patient’s healthy breast skin, nipple, and the areola are left in place. Only the tissue contained within the envelope of skin around the breast is removed.

“Each patient’s journey is unique. Grecia is a young woman with her whole life in front of her; it was important that she not be reminded of her cancer every time she saw her body. With this specialized procedure, the patient’s breast looks virtually unchanged, as there is only a small scar under the crease of the breast,” explains Dr. De La Cruz.

Immediately afterward, David Song, MD, plastic and reconstructive surgeon and vice president of Medical Affairs, Chief Medical Officer at MedStar Georgetown, performed reconstruction surgery using Grecia’s tissue and skin, as well as implants.

“With an immediate reconstruction, our surgical and reconstruction teams work together so that removal of the tumor and breast reconstruction are done during one operation,” explains Dr. Song. “The patient has to go under general anesthesia only once, and she wakes up with her breasts reconstructed. This can help many women with the psychological aspect of healing.”

After surgery, Grecia had six weeks of oral chemotherapy and intravenous immunotherapy. She finished her treatments and a follow-up exam revealed no evidence of the disease. Grecia was thrilled and ready to get on with her life.

She took time for herself, visiting friends in Hawaii and Alaska. “I needed to reset my mind and recharge my soul before heading back to law school,” she says. “I feel good; my strength is returning, and I now look at every day as a blessing.” Grecia is back at law school and looking forward to a career in environmental law.

For more information, click here.  To schedule an appointment, call 202-444-7055.

Meet Lucy De La Cruz, MD and watch her discuss breast cancer surgery.


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