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Rebecca Gould Thrives After Facing Breast Cancer

Rebecca's compassionate care team supported her through an aggressive treatment plan

Drums resident Rebecca Gould, 44, is a busy woman. Along with being a wife and mom, she also works as an office coordinator for a rehabilitation practice.

“Even though I had missed my annual mammogram, I wasn’t concerned at first. I didn’t have a family history of breast cancer, so I thought I was safe. I had no idea that most breast cancers aren’t hereditary.” - Rebecca Gould

So, when she noticed that her right nipple had started pointing inward in December 2021, she had trouble making time to get it checked out.

“Even though I had missed my annual mammogram, I wasn’t concerned at first. I didn’t have a family history of breast cancer, so I thought I was safe,” Gould says. “I thought it would eventually go back to normal on its own, and I had no idea that most breast cancers aren’t hereditary.”

When her nipple was still inverted two months later, Gould made an appointment with her primary care clinician, Heather Sugarman, CRNP, with LVPG Family Medicine–Vine Street.

That same day, Gould was sent for an ultrasound. The results were life-changing.

“Heather called and told me there was a mass, and it was likely breast cancer,” Gould says. “She also told me that she was sending me to a team of experts. I had no idea at the time, but those doctors and nurses would not only save my life, but also stand by my side throughout every step of my cancer journey.”

Support from the start

A few days later, Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute connected with Gould to schedule her first appointment with surgical oncologist Lori Alfonse, DO, Deputy Physician in Chief of Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute, at the Cancer Center at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Hecktown Oaks.

“After scheduling my appointment, a nurse navigator called to get my medical history and also ease my nerves,” Gould says. “I hadn’t even had an appointment yet, and my care team was already supporting me.”

A compassionate team with an aggressive treatment plan

When she met Dr. Alfonse, Gould knew for sure that she was in the right place for care.

“Dr. Alfonse has such a wonderful bedside manner and is amazing,” Gould says. “She gave me hope, which is exactly what I needed in that moment.”

She was sent for a biopsy and positron emission tomography (PET) scan, which provided an official diagnosis: stage 3B hormone receptor-positive (HR+) ductal carcinoma. While the cancer had spread to a couple lymph nodes near Gould’s right breast, it hadn’t spread beyond that immediate area.

 Dr. Alfonse recommended a bilateral mastectomy (the surgical removal of both breasts), and three weeks after her procedure, Gould started five months (16 rounds) of chemotherapy under the care of hematologist oncologist Rachel Kinney, DO, with LVPG Hematology Oncology–Hecktown Oaks.

“Dr. Kinney has such a kind soul and answered all of my questions about both types of chemotherapy I received. Her nurse Sandra is also amazing – she's been my cheerleader since the moment we met and provided me with all the information I needed,” Gould says. “The infusion nurses were angels too, and when I finished that part of my treatment journey, I really missed seeing them every week. They were the most wonderful people and truly kept me going on the tough days.”

 After her chemotherapy regimens, Gould was referred to radiation oncologist Jeanette Blauth, MD, with Allentown Radiation Oncology Associates, for 33 radiation treatments.

“Dr. Blauth and the radiation technologists always greeted me with a smile,” Gould says. “That truly meant the world to me.”

While her care plan involved a lot of different treatments, Gould always knew what was coming next.

“My nurse navigators and clinicians kept me informed of everything,” Gould says. “I never felt lost or confused about my next steps.”

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Back on track

After finishing her radiation treatments, scans showed that Gould was cancer-free.

She currently takes two medications to prevent her cancer from recurring. She also underwent a total hysterectomy and removal of both her ovaries and fallopian tubes (with gynecologic oncologist Christine Kim, MD, with LVPG Gynecologic Oncology) for additional protection against recurrence (since her cancer was directly influenced by the hormones in her body).

Gould still sees many members of her care team for regular follow-up care, and in the future, she will be undergoing reconstructive surgery.

“I was amazed by the care I received at Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute, and I know I wouldn’t have had the same experience elsewhere,” Gould says. “I needed cheerleaders, and that’s exactly what my doctors and nurses were and always will be – my cheer squad.”

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Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute’s mammography technologists performed more than 85,000 screening mammograms last year throughout the region. LVHN also has been named a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by The American College of Radiology®.

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