Trust Care When Breast Cancer Returns

September 21, 2020

In May 2001, Jamie Sussel Turner, now 68, of Sea Bright, New Jersey, was full of hope. Her wedding was just two months away, and her career as a school principal was in full swing. Then she received results from a routine mammogram that showed she had early-stage breast cancer.

“Can you imagine a time like that to get a cancer diagnosis? Talk about ‘in sickness and in health,’” Jamie recalls.

She started chemotherapy three weeks before the big day, and even bought a wig and hat to wear with her wedding ensemble in case her hair fell out (it didn’t).Two months prior to her wedding, Jamie had surgery—a lumpectomy, where just the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue was removed—followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

“Jamie also received five years of hormonal therapy since her cancer was hormone-sensitive,” says Stephen Windsor, M.D., Jamie’s medical oncologist at Riverview Medical Center. “That five-year course was the standard of care at the time.”

Years later, in 2014, Jamie went on a hike. Afterward, when checking to make sure she hadn’t picked up any ticks, she discovered a small bump on her head. She followed up with her doctor, who ordered a biopsy and later called Jamie with the results. The lesion was, in fact, skin cancer.

“It was stage three melanoma, and melanoma of the scalp is the most severe form,” Jamie says. She participated in a clinical trial for immunotherapy drugs, and thankfully, her melanoma was successfully treated.

Four years later, in 2018, she began experiencing pain in her side. A CAT scan revealed lesions in her bones, which were a recurrence of her breast cancer. She returned once again to Dr. Windsor.

Trusted Care

Jamie’s recurrence of breast cancer was diagnosed as stage four, but she felt confident under the care of Dr. Windsor. “I thought the world of Dr. Windsor from when he treated me in 2001, so I felt that I was in good hands,” she says.

Adds Dr. Windsor: “Stage four cancers can be a challenge to treat. Today we have more treatment options than ever before. Jamie’s been able to maintain a good quality of life while she’s been on treatment.”

Currently, Jamie receives chemotherapy three times a month and is doing well.

She feels good about her decision to have her treatment at Riverview, which offers all cancer care specialties and treatment services under one roof and has a dedicated inpatient/outpatient cancer clinic adjacent to the hospital.

“Our patients receive cutting-edge therapy here,” Dr. Windsor says. “The equipment at Riverview is certainly top of the line, and everyone on the care team is well trained. We take a multidisciplinary approach to our patients, so we get input from all the different modalities—pathology, radiology, radiation oncology, medical oncology and surgery. We have tumor boards where all the different specialties get together once a week to discuss how best to approach cases and formulate treatment plans.”

Adds Jamie: “Dr. Windsor is at the top of the game, and he is incredibly qualified and knowledgeable.”

A Less Stress Life

Before being diagnosed with melanoma, Jamie became interested in a new field: personal and business coaching. While working as a school principal, she won a foundation grant that allowed her to complete the training and gain her certification as a coach.

“I started out thinking that coaching would be kind of like a hobby in retirement,” Jamie recalls. But once she retired from her education career, she immediately opened her coaching practice, The Less Stress Coach. “I coach business owners, other kinds of leaders and individuals to get a handle on stress.”

She has even written two books on the topic—incorporating lessons learned from her cancer journey.

“Jamie is inspirational, not just for other patients, but for us providers as well.” Dr. Windsor says. “It’s wonderful to have patients you admire.”

For Jamie, the feeling is mutual. “Dr. Windsor is a human being first,” she says. “He is really caring and always takes as much time as I need; I never feel rushed. I’ve been to lots of doctors’ offices where that’s not my experience. We always have really good conversations, and he answers all of my questions. I couldn’t ask for anything more from a doctor.”

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