• Aphasia support group

Personal Touch:

Beecher Woman Navigates Breast Cancer with Mom by her Side

As a 911 dispatcher, Catherine Gonzalez is cool in a crisis, but nothing prepared the young wife and mother for a diagnosis of stage 2 breast cancer in February 2016, a week before her 35th birthday.

In late 2015, Catherine discovered a lump in her left breast, but she didn’t think much of it. “I thought maybe it was a fibroadenoma (benign breast tumor),” she explains.

“I was shocked,” she explains. “I was always the healthy one. I never smoked or drank; I always exercised.” The Beecher woman soon discovered, however, that breast cancer often strikes younger women with no risk factors.

Eventually she confided in a breast cancer expert she trusted with her life…her mom. As one of two nurse navigators at Ingalls Richard K. Desser, MD, Comprehensive Breast Centers, Delores Knapp, RN, has helped hundreds of women navigate the overwhelming world of breast cancer tests and treatments.

Woman with three children

When the diagnosis came back as breast cancer, both mother and daughter were stunned. Like she would with any of her patients, Delores coordinated Catherine’s many tests and appointments, including her visits with oncologist James Wallace, MD, and surgeon Gary Peplinski, MD. She also helped her daughter weigh her treatment options.

Catherine eventually opted for a double mastectomy at Ingalls, and was referred to the University of Chicago Medical Center for breast reconstructive surgery. “I didn’t want to wake up every morning wondering if the cancer might come back,” she explained. Her treatment also included chemotherapy and radiation.

Today, Catherine’s fully recovered, cancer-free and forever grateful for the excellent care she received throughout. Best of all, Catherine says, is that her mom helped her navigate one of the most difficult journeys of her life.

“She was there for me every step of the way,” Catherine said. “Ingalls has been wonderful to her,” Delores adds. “I wouldn’t trust her with anybody else.”

Get connected to your very own Ingalls cancer expert now. To learn more about our Nurse Navigators, call 708.915.HOPE (4673)

Navigating Breast Cancer

It’s reassuring to know that from the moment you enter our cancer program until your treatment is complete, there’s somebody by your side. One of our nurse navigators is available to answer questions, explain test results or medications, schedule appointments, coordinate treatments…or just listen. At Ingalls, our nurse navigators:

  • Help coordinate your appointments, tests, and treatments with your entire Ingalls Cancer Care team
  • Explain in easy-to-understand language the goals, benefits, and risks of treatment choices
  • Provide individualized support on symptom management and nutritional coaching before, during, and after treatment
  • Participate in weekly cancer conferences with doctors and nurses to determine the best treatment plan for you

Ingalls Richard K. Desser, MD, Comprehensive Breast Centers bring healing and hope. Schedule your mammogram at one of our convenient, accredited centers of excellence.

Call 708.915.3333 today.

Success Stories
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    Inspirational stories of courage and hope

Progress Magazine