Healthy You - Every Day

Mammography Technologist Fights Familiar Foe

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Toni Hobbs turned to her colleagues for care

Old Forge resident Toni Hobbs, 54, has never missed a cancer screening.

As a mammography technologist for over 30 years, she knows firsthand the importance of timely screenings and how finding breast cancer early offers the best chance for successful treatment.

“I’ve done thousands of mammograms over the years, and I’ve seen so many lives change in an instant,” Hobbs says. “It’s taught me how important it is to put your health first.”

So when Hobbs went for her annual mammogram at Lehigh Valley Physician Group (LVPG) Breast Health Services–Steamtown (part of Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute) in spring 2021, she knew exactly what to expect: friendly faces, a pink exam gown and a bit of worthwhile discomfort. What she didn’t expect, however, was the diagnosis that followed.

Additional breast cancer screening

Hobbs’ mammogram came back abnormal, but she wasn’t too worried. She’d had a few scares in the past that turned out to be benign, and after additional imaging tests and a breast biopsy, she waited to receive the all-clear from her care team.

Unfortunately, the news she received wasn’t what she hoped for. Hobbs was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, which can be more difficult to treat than other types of breast cancer.

Trusted breast cancer care

“Even though the diagnosis shocked me, I felt like I had a secret weapon that would get me through it,” Hobbs says.

That secret weapon was surgical oncologist Kristine Kelley, MD,with LVPG Breast Health Services–Steamtown, with whom Hobbs has worked for many years.

“Dr. Kelley treats all of her patients like family, and I knew she would be by my side through it all,” Hobbs says.

Kelley recommended that Hobbs undergo a lumpectomy (removal of the cancer and some of its surrounding healthy tissue from the affected breast) and have a sentinel node biopsy done, which would determine if her cancer had spread.

“I am so thankful for the care I received from Dr. Kelley and Dr. Wang – they put my mind at ease and helped me return to work as soon as possible. They are so compassionate, and I can’t recommend them enough.” - Toni Hobbs

The surgical procedures went well, and although the biopsy results showed the cancer had not spread, Kelley recommended that Hobbs meet with a hematologist oncologist and radiation oncologist for further treatment.

After receiving 20 weeks of chemotherapy, Hobbs returned to work part time while also starting a month of radiation treatments with radiation oncologist Joseph Wang, MD, with LVPG Radiation Oncology–Morgan Highway.

 “Even though I was still being treated, I wanted to get back to work as soon as I could,” Hobbs says. “I felt a little tired from my radiation treatments, but I was still able to go back to work part time and bring a whole new level of support to my patients.”

Looking forward

At the end of February 2022, Hobbs finished her radiation treatments and returned to work full time.

“My cancer journey really taught me just how strong my patients are, and it also made me an even bigger advocate for cancer screenings,” Hobbs says. “I hadn’t felt any lumps before my mammogram, and my screening truly saved my life.”

Hobbs is being followed closely by her care team and has regular follow-up testing and survivorship appointments.

“I am so thankful for the care I received from Dr. Kelley and Dr. Wang – they put my mind at ease and helped me return to work as soon as possible,” Hobbs says. “They are so compassionate, and I can’t recommend them enough.”

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