As a personal trainer, Houston native Claudia Schloeter has spent 18 years helping others get in shape. She has always worked out six days a week and lives a healthy lifestyle, so she was shocked when she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.
An unexpected diagnosis
Claudia, now 42, started having regular mammograms at 35 because she has benign fibrocystic breast disease. While MD Anderson recommends that most women don't begin having annual mammograms until 40, Claudia often found lumps during breast self-exams. After her mammograms, doctors used ultrasound and needle biopsies to be sure suspicious areas weren't cancer.
But after a mammogram last year, a needle biopsy showed she had stage II breast cancer.
"I was very scared when I found out I had cancer, especially the first few days," Claudia says. "I have a little boy, and I wanted to see him grow up."
Coming to MD Anderson's Multi-Team Clinic for breast cancer treatment
Although she was diagnosed at another hospital, Claudia didn't think twice about coming to MD Anderson.
"I wanted to go to the very best place for treatment," she says. "I didn't really even do any research. Several of my clients have been treated there, and I relied on MD Anderson's reputation as the place to go."
Claudia got an appointment quickly in MD Anderson's Multi-Team Breast Clinic. The clinic streamlines diagnosis and treatment planning by bringing together -- in one place and one appointment -- some of the world's most renowned breast cancer specialists. Each patient meets with her personal team of experts. During this meeting, the team answers questions and carefully explains options.
At the end of the day, patients leave with a clear, personalized treatment plan and a timetable to begin the road to recovery. This efficient approach provides the best chance for successful treatment and offers peace of mind.
"It was a long day," Claudia says. "But when I left, I knew everything I needed to know. Most importantly, I had a treatment plan and knew my next step."
Showing what a survivor looks like
Claudia opted to have a mastectomy and immediate reconstruction for her breast cancer treatment. After surgery, she acquired an infection and had to take three types of antibiotics. Throughout her treatment, she felt confident in her decision to come to MD Anderson.
"I definitely felt like I was in good hands," she says. "Everyone was very professional and went above and beyond to make me comfortable."
Claudia has always eaten healthy, avoiding sugar and fast food in favor of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats. But cancer has inspired her to kick it up a notch by focusing on a plant-based diet and green juices. She tries to smile and be positive every day -- even when she may not feel like it. She also continues to keep in top physical shape.
"I want everyone to see that, even if they are going through something traumatic like cancer, they can be strong and survive in body and mind."