Breast cancer survivor grateful for MD Anderson’s care
In August 2021, Dawn Patrick found a lump underneath her arm while in the shower. She immediately made an appointment with her primary care doctor, who didn’t think the lump was going to be a big deal.
But after imaging scans and tests, Dawn learned she had three tumors in her breast. Biopsies revealed two of them were cancerous. She secured an appointment at MD Anderson a short time later.
“I was amazed and shocked at how fast it all went,” recalls Dawn.
At MD Anderson, she met with breast medical oncologist Jason Mouabbi, M.D. Dawn describes that first appointment as “awesome.”
“By the end of our conversation, I was completely convinced he was the best doctor for me,” she says. “For a doctor to take the time to draw a diagram of what’s going on in your breast and how the cancer has spread, what the plan of action will do to it – it gives you comfort.”
Undergoing breast cancer treatment at MD Anderson
After additional testing at MD Anderson, Dawn received her breast cancer diagnosis: stage III HER2 positive invasive ductal carcinoma. She started the chemotherapy drug docetaxel the next week. Dr. Mouabbi also recommended she receive monoclonal antibody treatments – a combination of trastuzumab and pertuzumab. Monoclonal antibodies target specific receptors in cancer cells, and trastuzumab/pertuzumab attaches to HER2 receptors and prevents them from multiplying.
“After starting treatment, I could actually feel the lump getting smaller,” Dawn says. “It helped to know that the chemotherapy was actively fighting my cancer.”
She had fatigue during chemotherapy but felt lucky that her side effects ended there. She had family members who had felt very sick while going through chemotherapy, so she went into treatment prepared for the worst.
Dawn completed chemotherapy in November and was declared cancer-free. She then underwent a lumpectomy in December and completed one month of radiation therapy under the care of Neelofur Ahmad, M.D. in March 2022.
“I had a harder time with radiation because of burns but my team was so careful and kind and made an uncomfortable situation better,” says Dawn. “I was surrounded by such positive people that I couldn’t help but feel it, too.”
Caring made the difference at MD Anderson
Through her breast cancer treatment, Dawn says the people she met at MD Anderson made her feel safe and taken care of. She was able to receive chemotherapy and radiation treatment at MD Anderson League City, which was closer to her home.
“Every time I walked through the door, I was greeted with such kindness,” says Dawn. “When you go through something like cancer, it’s so much easier when you know that all you have to do is show up because you’re being taken care of.”
Dawn will continue receiving monoclonal antibody injections through the beginning of 2023. She says her experience with breast cancer has also highlighted the importance of annual mammograms.
“Two years before my diagnosis, I had a clean mammogram. I skipped it the next year because I had a lot going on in my life – I was moving, I’d lost my dad and was taking care of my mom,” says Dawn. “But now I know – don’t make excuses. Don’t wait.”