I always felt I was being heard by my doctors.

I Always Felt I Was Being Heard by My Doctors

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When Loretta Reinersmann felt some discomfort and a small lump in her breast, she called her MedStar Health primary care physician Christopher Mays, MD, who arranged for her to come into the office right away. He sent her to get a mammogram, telling her the next step would be a biopsy. After the mammogram confirmed the need for a biopsy, Dr. Mays next called a colleague, Jennifer Son, MD, a fellowship-trained breast surgeon at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center and arranged for Loretta to have a biopsy the next day.

“I’ve been a patient of Dr. Mays’ since the 80s and I have complete trust in him,” says Loretta. “I’m very grateful he stepped in to help me get the biopsy completed quickly.”

The biopsy discovered that Loretta did have cancer, and the tumor was determined to be triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of the disease. The next step in Loretta’s treatment was five months of two different chemotherapy medications with Nora Sudarsan, DO, a hematologist and medical oncologist at MedStar Montgomery, followed by a lumpectomy and reconstruction performed by Dr. Son and six weeks of radiation with Luther Ampey, MD, a MedStar Montgomery radiation oncologist.

“I had a great treatment team,” says Loretta. “With my doctors, the radiologists, all the staff at the infusion center, and the office staff, I always felt I was being heard. I never felt rushed or diminished.”

Although treatment took both a physical and psychological toll, Loretta had the support of her siblings, in particular her sisters, who came from New York and Pennsylvania to take care of her, and a circle of good friends, colleagues at the environmental non-profit where she works, and support groups based at MedStar Montgomery, who even delivered a holiday dinner to Loretta and her sisters in December.

Despite receiving chemotherapy before surgery, Loretta was still found to have active cancer cells in the removed breast tissue at the time of surgery, which increased her risk of the cancer returning. To lower that risk, Dr. Sudarsan prescribed an oral chemotherapy medication.

“The side effects of the medication were challenging,” explains Loretta, “But Dr. Sudarsan is the queen of side effect management. She’s extremely current on the latest treatments and tailored my treatment to be as effective as possible while managing the side effects to improve my quality of life.”

Loretta, who’s always been a fit, active person who enjoys hiking, live music, and dancing, is working with a personal trainer to rebuild her strength and stamina. She says she’s about 90% back to her previous fitness level.

“I was very lucky that my cancer was caught early and that I had healthcare providers who really listened to me and treated me like a person, not a number. That made a tremendous difference in my experience,” she says.

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