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At the age of 37, in 2002, Jill Scheetz was just getting back into shape after the birth of her two daughters. She considered herself to be physically active and a healthy eater. "My only vice was a caffeinated iced tea almost every day," shared Jill. Although it doesn't sound terrible, her doctor recommended she stay away from caffeine because she had a benign tumor which was removed from her breast when she was 18. When her left breast began to hurt, Jill made an appointment for a mammogram (it had been 5 years since her last one).
"I put my life in the hands of the staff at Fox Chase Cancer Center."
During the mammogram, Jill's radiologist told her she saw something suspicious and thought it might be cancer in her right breast. "When I received confirmation from a biopsy, I knew that I needed to leave my local hospital, which I otherwise trusted, and put my life in the hands of the staff at Fox Chase Cancer Center," Jill admitted. "You see, 16 years earlier my mother was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer."
Jill's mother had been told by doctors at her local hospital that she only had a few months to live, so she went to Fox Chase in hopes of a miracle. "The staff at Fox Chase did everything they could for my mom," recalled Jill, whose mother enrolled in a clinical trial. "The treatment extended her life for two years, much of which was productive, satisfying and pain free - and enough time to see my older sister get married."
With stage 3 breast cancer, Jill knew that the doctors at Fox Chase would offer her the most effective treatment options.
As the mother of two young daughters, Jill took her own health very seriously - especially when it came to cancer. Her surgeon, Elin Sigurdson, MD, performed a bilateral mastectomy because Jill didn't want to take any chances that the cancer would develop in her left breast.
Dr. Topham had just arrived at Fox Chase from one of the nation's top cancer centers.
Jill recalled that her plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Neal Topham, MD, had just arrived at Fox Chase at the time of her surgery. "He came from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas and was skilled at new ways to perform reconstructive surgery." Jill chose to have a free-tram flap procedure.
"Each of the doctors on my team made me feel as though I was a special patient."
"In talking to these doctors, it was clear that they had a passion for what they were doing," remembered Jill. "I was confident that I was in good hands at Fox Chase. While I was in the hospital recovering from surgery, several doctors and nurses stopped by to ask if they could see Dr. Topham's amazing work. In the weeks and months that followed, I had appointments at my local hospital with my doctor, and everyone was amazed by the wonderful work Dr. Topham had performed."
Fortunately, Jill does not need to "show off" Dr. Topham's work these days. Instead, she enjoys running and other sports, working and continuing her education. She has no regrets about the choices she made about her treatment. "I feel healthy and my annual check-ups at Fox Chase ensure I'll stay that way," said Jill. "If I do get the bad news of another cancer diagnosis some day, I know that the talented doctors at Fox Chase will give me the best care available."