Tracy’s Story: Playing It Smart Leads To Early Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Tracy Grooms learned first-hand how important mammograms are in detecting breast cancer early.

Tracy had been healthy her entire life. But because her friend Tammy Harmon died from breast cancer a few years before, Tracy decided to play it smart. She followed medical guidelines and went for her first mammogram when she turned 40.

That mammogram, in June 2012, showed that something wasn’t right. A follow-up mammogram and then a biopsy confirmed the diagnosis that Tracy had breast cancer.

“My dad also passed away from cancer in his 40s, so the news was a shock,” says Tracy, who lives in Trenton with her husband, Dave, and their two children, 17-year-old Emily, and 8-year-old Braydon. “But the best way to fight cancer is to catch it early. I had that going for me.”

Early Diagnosis Improves Outcomes

Tracy’s cancer was initially thought to be Stage 0, but a lumpectomy, performed in July, revealed that her cancer was at Stage 1. A second surgery was needed in August.

Under the direction of her medical oncologist, Tracy had three months of chemotherapy, followed by six weeks of radiation. She also had Herceptin treatments, a targeted therapy for breast cancer patients like Tracy whose tumor cells express too much of a protein called HER2/neu.

Tracy’s Herceptin treatments were given once every three weeks for a year at the Infusion and Treatment Center in the Compton Center on the Atrium Medical Center campus. That’s the same place she had chemotherapy, which she appreciated for the convenient location. 

Patient-centered Care

“Atrium’s Infusion Center is designed with the patient in mind. Each person has their own room,” Tracy says. “I get work done on my laptop while sitting in the recliner. There’s also a television and a phone.”

More important, she says: “The staff at Atrium genuinely cares about the patients. They are so nice. They don’t leave you sitting by yourself but check on you often. I may have privacy, but I don’t feel alone.”

Tracy is cautious but optimistic about her future. “I never had any major illness or surgery, so hearing I had cancer was hard to take. I’m so grateful that I went for a mammogram when I did and could start right in fighting the disease. I learned first-hand how important mammograms are.”

While self-exams are an important part of breast health, mammograms can detect abnormalities too small to be felt. Mammograms help detect breast cancer earlier, when it’s more curable.

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