Latitia Shattuck - Alma, MI
"The experience itself is hard enough; you need people who are positive, and the ones at MyMichigan have been amazing."
She Received Coordinated Care and Support From Her Breast Care Team
Shortly after Latitia Shattuck’s 65th birthday, the Alma retiree went to her doctor about a lump that she had felt in her breast for some time.
When Family Medicine Physician Vicki Chessin, M.D., examined Shattuck, she was concerned enough to arrange a mammogram and breast ultrasound that same day and a biopsy a few days later.
"A few days after the biopsy, Melissa Hoag called me with the results," Shattuck said. "She told me that they had come back positive with cancer."
Breast Nurse Navigator Melissa Hoag, R.N., O.C.N., C.N.-B.N., is part of the comprehensive Breast Health Program at MyMichigan Medical Center Alma. She became Latitia's central contact throughout her diagnosis and treatment, providing counseling, answering questions and helping to schedule appointments and tests.
"After she told me the news, she sat with me, answering my questions and talking about what we would do. She didn't waste any time getting things moving," Latitia said.
Her daughter, Lorrie Siler, was also with her mom every step of her journey. "I became the daughter and she became the mother," Latitia said. "She made sure I had everything and anything I wanted all during my treatment and recovery."
Within a few days, Latitia met with General Surgeon Jeffrey Bonacci, M.D., to go over her options for surgery. "I chose to have a mastectomy, because I didn't want to take any chances of anything occurring later on," she said.
During her treatment, Dr. Bonacci removed 18 lymph nodes, one of which was positive for cancer. Latitia was scheduled to undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
At first, Latitia thought it didn't make sense to have all that treatment when there was cancer in just one lymph node. "Melissa explained that the positive node meant that the cancer had spread beyond my breast, and therefore may in small amounts be in surrounding soft tissue," she said. "The chemotherapy and radiation treatments would be able to get into those areas and kill any of these cancer cells."
Then Latitia understood. "I wanted to do everything I could do to make sure I don't have to go through this again, so I told her, 'OK, I’m ready to proceed.'"
Medical Oncologist and Hematologist Tannu Sahay, M.D., led Latitia's chemotherapy and Radiation Oncologist Mark Fireman, M.D., led her radiation treatments. "Dr. Sahay is an excellent oncologist, an amazing doctor and very caring. She more than proved she knows what she's doing," Latitia said.
Latitia said Hoag was with her at every appointment. "I would be having chemo and she would come in and talk a few minutes to see if I was comfortable," she said. "She would stay afterwards just to make sure I understood what the doctor had told me. She still calls me to see how I’m doing."
In addition, Latitia liked every one of her doctors. "It just seems like God brought me the right people," she said. "The experience itself is hard enough. You need people who are positive, and the ones at MyMichigan have been amazing. I was led to a lot of nice people that only wanted to see good results."
To help breast cancer patients navigate through the many choices available and determine which treatment options are right for them, MyMichigan Medical Centers in Alma and Midland offer comprehensive, multidisciplinary Breast Health Programs. These programs are comprised of a team of dedicated physicians, nurses, breast nurse navigators and other health professionals dedicated to developing individualized treatment plans and assisting patients through every step of their treatment and recovery process. Those who would like more information may visit www.mymichigan.org/breast.