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Linell S.: Breast Cancer

Linell S., Breast Cancer

Linell S., Breast Cancer

“They have empowered me beyond my wildest expectations to do even more than what I thought I was capable of doing.”

Now that she's retired, Linell likes to stay active and pack her schedule with various things. One of her biggest passions is giving back to people in need through her volunteer work. She's done projects in the Dominican Republic and Zambia.

But a routine mammogram sidelined all of that. 

 "I went in for a routine mammogram," Linell says. "A week later, I was told I needed a second scan. A week after that, they called me into the office and told me I had invasive ductal carcinoma."

Invasive ductal carcinoma risks increase with age. Without the proper treatment, the breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes or metastasize to other areas of the body.

Because Linell was also HER2-positive, her cancer cells had the potential to grow more rapidly.  

"When I found out about my diagnosis, of course I was scared," Linell says. "It felt like a weight hit my chest. But when I told my brother and sister-in-law about my diagnosis and that I was going to UMPC Hillman Cancer Center, they were so encouraging. They told me it was the best place I could go."  

When it comes to cancer, many patients are confused and uncertain about their diagnosis and their hope for the future. But at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, our entire treatment team offers compassionate care so patients never feel alone during their journey.  

"All the doctors, nurses, even the volunteers were all so personable …they gave me hope," Linell says. "And I never had to travel more than half a mile from home."

Mohammad Tahir, MD, UPMC Magee-Womens breast surgeon, and Abdullah Sholi, MD, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center oncologist, led Linell's treatment plan at UPMC Williamsport. Her treatment included breast surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy.

Linell is grateful for the level of care she received from the entire UPMC Hillman Cancer Center team.

"I think I'm stronger now than before the diagnosis," she says. "My mental outlook is better. Everything about my life right now, I think, is better."

Today, Linell is looking toward the future. Her treatment is nearly finished, and her recent scans have been clear. She's planning another trip to the Dominican Republic to help with the education and health care projects she's worked on for years.

She hopes to return to Zambia soon to continue her safari tours and protect wildlife by dismantling poacher snares in national parks. 

"It has been quite a journey," Linell says. "But thanks to the care I got at UPMC, I can go back to the Dominican Republic and Africa and do the work that I love."  

Linell didn't choose to have breast cancer, but she did choose UPMC.