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Breast Cancer

Theresa's Story: Facing Breast Cancer during a global pandemic

Theresa Timbario and her husband were looking forward to their new life in Lancaster County where they would be closer to family. Never could have they imagined that less than a year after their move to Leola, Theresa would be facing breast cancer—and in the midst of a global pandemic. We talked with Theresa following her 21st of 33 radiation treatments.

A Breast Cancer Survivor

Breast cancer was no stranger to Theresa. She had beaten the disease 10 years earlier after undergoing a lumpectomy and the removal of affected lymph nodes. She was diligent about staying on top of her follow-up care.

“I’ve always continued to get my yearly mammograms,” said Theresa, who was surprised, and naturally frightened, to find a lump in her breast while taking a shower one morning in late 2019.

And so began a journey filled with unexpected twists, but always with comfort and reassurance.

Diagnosis, Treatment and a Pandemic

Theresa’s physicians at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute—Drs. Aaron Bleznak, Pamela Boimel, and Shanthi Sivendran—were thorough in diagnosing Theresa’s cancer and developing a treatment plan. Through results of a mammogram, breast ultrasound, and breast MRI, they recommended she undergo bilateral mastectomies, followed by chemotherapy and radiation.

All went well with Theresa’s surgery. With her husband and daughter by her side, she began chemotherapy at the Infusion Center.

“My daughter is a pharmacist and really understood what was happening with the chemo which was a big comfort,” recalled Theresa.

A Different Experience

After just two visits, COVID-19 started to spread across Pennsylvania. In order to help contain the spread of the virus and ensure the safety of patients and staff, new visitation policies were put in place throughout Penn Medicine.

“At first I was anxious," said Theresa, who now was dropped off for her treatment and picked up by her husband afterwards.

However, almost immediately, Theresa found comfort in the support system she had right at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute—from her providers and nurse navigator Julie Justice, to teams at the Infusion Center and Image Recovery Center.

“The staff explained everything to me and answered all my questions,” she said. “I felt very relaxed and safe."  

Theresa appreciated all the safety measures that in place, which offered additional reassurance that she was getting the best and safest care possible.

“Everyone was very careful, wearing masks and gloves, and wiping everything down,"  she said. “They all took very good care of me."

As Theresa finishes her last radiation treatments, she and her husband look forward to enjoying life their new home, confident Theresa is in the best possible hands for follow-up care at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute.

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