Early Intervention and Coordinated Care for Breast Cancer Save Lives

OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- When it comes to breast health, regular screening, early detection and intervention can help save lives. During October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Kaiser Permanente's Care Stories blog (kp.org/carestories) features three breast cancer survivors who share how early diagnosis, treatment and coordinated, compassionate care helped return them to the family, friends and hobbies that help them thrive.

October's stories include:

An avid quilter, Pauline Willems could never have imagined that a trip to the doctor for a sore quilting wrist would end up saving her life. When she went to see Amy Whittaker, MD, at Kaiser Permanente Long Beach Medical Offices for her wrist, the staff noticed that Pauline was due for a mammogram. After treating her wrist, the staff scheduled Pauline for a mammogram, which showed that she had a mass in her right breast. Further testing revealed that Pauline had stage 1 breast cancer, which was quickly biopsied and removed. A subsequent chest X-ray showed that Pauline also had stage 1 lung cancer, which was successfully treated. Pauline couldn't be more thankful for the care she received. "I'm cancer free," Pauline says, "because both my breast cancer and lung cancer were caught extremely early. I thank Dr. Whittaker and the staff at Kaiser Permanente for encouraging me to get that mammogram. Without it, the lung cancer would not have been caught either. Kaiser saved my life. And to think it all started because of my quilting wrist! Thank you Dr. Whittaker, and thank you Kaiser Permanente."

Watch Pauline's care story http://bit.ly/V2e0Xv

A passion for rock climbing, family and friends is what fuels Kathleen Tebb's zest for life. The 39-year old mother of two detected a large lump in her chest, and checked in with Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center's Heidi Olander, MD, who found that the lump was cancerous. Further investigation by surgeon Joyce Chou, MD, determined that the lump and two others were cancerous. Kathleen underwent a mastectomy, had surrounding lymph nodes removed, and was later referred to a physical therapist and fellow rock-climber who helped restore strength to Kathleen's arms after the procedures. Kathleen says that the compassionate, coordinated care she received was well beyond any she could imagine. Kathleen describes Dr. Chou as a "phenomenal, phenomenal surgeon." "I felt I was just surrounded by angels — everyone from the oncologist to the surgeon to the nursing staff. They were genuinely touched and concerned." Kathleen says Kaiser Permanente helped restore her to health and get her back to the life, family, friends and rock climbing that bring her joy.

Watch Kathleen's care story http://bit.ly/UPqEuw

Because Margarita Vacanti has a family history of breast cancer, when the 34-year-old mother of three noticed early symptoms of breast cancer, she immediately scheduled a mammogram for the very same day. While devastated to learn that she had stage 2 breast cancer, Margarita was comforted by the care she received. When she first met with Catherine Azar, MD, an oncologist at Kaiser Permanente Colorado's Franklin Medical Offices, Dr. Azar had already signed Margarita up for a clinical trial and selected a chemotherapy regimen for her. "I didn't feel like I needed to do any of the research, and that was incredibly reassuring," Margarita explains. "I cannot imagine having to go through this experience without the support of Kaiser Permanente. I was treated with respect ...not just somebody who was part of a chart and a to-do list. That, I appreciate the most – the respect."

Watch Margarita's care story http://bit.ly/PaOERU

Kaiser Permanente is recognized as a national leader in breast cancer screening rates for both commercial and Medicare members. This focus on prevention and early detection increases the likelihood that members who are diagnosed with breast cancer are treated before their cancers progress to later stages.

Launched in July 2011, Care Stories is a collection of first-person video narratives from Kaiser Permanente members talking about their own care in their own words, unscripted and uncompensated.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 9 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: www.kp.org/newscenter.

Contact: Farra Levin, Kaiser Permanente, 510-414-9246, farra.r.levin@kp.org

SOURCE Kaiser Permanente