Diagnosis: Breast Cancer
Treatment: Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy
Wenatchee resident Kris Taylor was no stranger to the ravages of breast cancer.
Her sister has fought the disease twice; her mother and two aunts have also been diagnosed.
This family history left Kris wondering when, not if, she would face a similar diagnosis.
That prophecy came true…but thanks to the comprehensive cancer services offered at EvergreenHealth, Kris was able to catch her cancer in the earliest stages.
“I had been getting yearly mammograms ever since my sister was first diagnosed,” Kris says. “Then when my mother was diagnosed, my brother-in-law urged me to get a breast MRI.”
Kris' brother-in-law is Dr. Eric Taylor, director of EvergreenHealth’s Radiation Oncology department.
“New screening guidelines recommend breast MRIs in addition to mammograms for women at increased risk of developing breast cancer,” Dr. Taylor explains. “Given Kris’ family history, I felt she would be a prime candidate for a breast MRI.
“The MRI has been a very helpful diagnostic tool for a select population of women at an increased risk,” says Dr. Kara Carlson, medical director of EvergreenHealth’s Breast Health Center.
MRIs can produce up to 3,000 images in one sitting, which are then transferred to an easily readable picture on a computer screen.
“It’s amazing what the MRI can find,” Dr. Carlson adds, but she stresses that MRIs are not a replacement for mammography. “The screening mammogram may not be perfect,” she says, “but it is still the gold standard.”
At her brother-in-law’s persistent urging, Kris Taylor had an MRI at EvergreenHealth. It picked up what her most recent mammogram had not – a moderately aggressive ductal cancer that had also spread to her lymph node.
The diagnosis was a blow – but Kris was grateful for what happened next.
“Five minutes after getting the MRI results, I met with a surgeon,” she recalls. “EvergreenHealth’s protocol seemed to be ‘Let’s set a plan; let’s get moving right away.’ It was so well coordinated and happened so fluidly. I never felt pressured; I just felt like we were moving forward.”
Kris opted for a lumpectomy, which was performed at EvergreenHealth.
EvergreenHealth’s Tumor Board, which advises on all cancer cases at the hospital, recommended chemotherapy and collaborated with her local hospital in Wenatchee on the regimen, which was followed by radiation therapy and anti-estrogen drugs.
Drs. Taylor and Carlson urge all women to do a monthly breast self-exam, have an annual breast exam by their physician, and get that annual mammogram.
And some women, like Kris Taylor, may need the added diagnostic punch of the MRI.
“I was fortunate that Eric had knowledge of the MRI, and that EvergreenHealth could provide it,” Kris explains, adding, “We don’t have MRI testing in my community and I want to change that. I plan to be an advocate for bringing this kind of advanced testing to rural areas.”