Empower blog Firelands

Published on February 20, 2018

How State-of-the-Art Detection Saves Lives: Part 2

By Christine Mack, Development Officer

When Joyce Paputza was diagnosed with cancer, her first thoughts weren’t what you might expect. Most people experience fear and sadness. For Joyce, her first reaction was one of faith and positivity.

“I knew from the beginning that I would be okay,” she said. “I trusted in God and in the people here at Firelands to take care of me.” Joyce was diagnosed in June 2016, but her story started months before that.

In February 2016, the retired mother of three felt a lump in her left breast. At first, she didn’t think much of it. She had previously been diagnosed with breast cysts and she knew that a cyst often felt like a lump. But, as the months went by, she realized this lump felt different.

“It was shooting pain throughout my breast,” she explained. “I knew that wasn’t good.”

She mentioned it to her family practice physician in May and received an order for a mammogram. Joyce came to the Center for Breast Care at Firelands Regional Medical Center and elected to undergo a 3D mammogram.

The 3D mammogram revealed an abnormality and Joyce was scheduled for a biopsy with Fredric Itzkowitz, DO.

breast cancer diagnosis

“I didn’t really worry because I believe in giving everything to God. He would take care of it,” she said. “But when I was waiting to go under anesthetic, I became a little bit anxious. I looked up from my bed and saw Dr. Itzkowitz standing near me talking to some other men. I put my hand out and he gently squeezed my hand. That’s the last thing I remember before waking up.”

Joyce’s biopsy revealed she had Stage II breast cancer in her left breast. She never wanted to hear the word “cancer”, but she soon found that many of her caregivers at Firelands Regional Medical Center had personal stories of triumph over the same disease.

“So many of the women here told me they were breast cancer survivors,” she said. “I knew I was in the right place and with the right people. Their stories and the care they have given me made a big difference in my treatment.”

Joyce beams when she talks about the team at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center at Firelands Regional Medical Center, who helped her endure sixteen sessions of radiation to combat her tumor.

“Mary and Jason (and the rest of the staff) are incredibly kind and were so willing to do anything to make me more comfortable during my treatments. It truly felt like we were all one big family,” she recalled.

Joyce was relieved to learn she did not have to undergo chemotherapy treatments, and has been surprised by how healthy she has felt all along.

“Sometimes I feel guilty, but I really have felt great from the very beginning,” she said. “I’ve maintained a positive outlook. I believed from the beginning I was going to be okay.”

Joyce is so appreciative of the care she received and of the availability of 3D mammography at Firelands that she adamantly encourages her friends and family to undergo this life-saving screening.

“My last mammogram was only a year prior to my diagnosis,” she said. “Even though I felt a lump, the 3D mammogram helped the doctors to diagnose me at an earlier stage than with regular mammography. When my health comes up in conversation, I tell people that a mammogram can be a lifesaver. It may have been for me and it may be for you, too.”

Explore more about the 3D mammography services at the Firelands Center for Breast Care today.

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