In 1994, Mary Lou Salzarulo, of Bethlehem, became a mom at 36. Less than a year later, she discovered a lump in her breast while in the shower. Her son, Michael, was just 10 months old. “It felt like the size of a half dollar. I knew right away something was not right. It was hard like a rock,” she says.
Concerned, she went to her OB-GYN, who agreed the lump did not feel right and sent her for a mammogram. It showed that her lump was indeed a large tumor, and after a biopsy and a barrage of tests, she was officially diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in summer 1995. As a new mom, she was incredibly scared.
“I thought I would never see my son’s second birthday,” Salzarulo says. “I was devastated. I was angry with God. I had struggled to have a child, and it felt like a machete had whacked me off at the knees.”
Finding hope with new doctor
For treatment, she underwent a mastectomy and opted to have TRAM flap reconstruction. The surgery was 13 hours long but was a success. During that time, Chand Rohatgi, MD, general and breast surgeon with Coordinated Health, was a resident when Salzarulo was diagnosed and had her surgery.