Going the extra mile
Diagnosis: Breast Cancer
Treatment: Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy
Carla Stewart was in the best shape of her life when a routine screening mammogram revealed a suspicious lump.
Despite the chance of a cancer, one of her first concerns was for the upcoming New York City Marathon she'd been planning to run for more than a year.
The 53-year-old Monroe resident was in the midst of completing one marathon per month as a way to stay active with her husband; the NYC Marathon would be her 17th.
A cancer diagnosis presented a hurdle she hadn’t planned on.
"It was hard to believe I had cancer; I really felt good," Carla explained.
Common passion connects patient with surgeon
Carla's oncologist immediately referred her to Dr. Marion Johnson, a surgeon specializing in breast surgery at EvergreenHealth, to complete several biopsies and MRI screenings before scheduling a lumpectomy to remove the cancer.
Upon their first meeting, Carla quickly found comfort in another of Dr. Johnson's strengths— their shared love for running. Dr. Johnson was also a marathoner, and had completed the Boston Marathon.
"It was clear Carla and I shared a passion for running, which made for an immediate connection," Dr. Johnson recalls. "The opportunity to connect with each of my patients is a great privilege and joy.”
"After meeting Carla, I understood how important it was for her to accomplish the race and we were able to work together to schedule her procedures around her New York trip," Dr. Johnson explained.
Stewart underwent two biopsies and then traveled to New York to complete the marathon, ready to dive into treatment upon her return.
Beating breast cancer with a training mentality
Carla credits her training mentality for helping her endure the weeks of chemotherapy and radiation that followed her lumpectomy surgery.
"When you're running a marathon, you think about the mile you're in, rather than the whole 26," Stewart explained. "That ability to push through when I'm tired helped me focus on persevering through a tough hour or tough day when I was going through treatment."
Today, Carla Stewart is living cancer-free. With her doctors' OK, she aims to take on more marathon and she looks forward to crossing many more finish lines.
For more information on Cancer Care at EvergreenHealth
Learn about Cancer Care at EvergreenHealth