Ex-Pat’s Incredible Journey with Breast Cancer in Puerto Vallarta
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Although Healthcare Resources, Pam Thompson, is familiar with the story of my journey with Breast Cancer, I’m sending this to her in the hopes that she will pass it along to the Ex-Pat Community as well as our Medical Community here in Puerto Vallarta thru her Blog and the Healthcare Resources Newsletter.
My journey started the evening of 12-12-12 where I found a lump in my breast. The next morning I immediately called Pam and she met me at DIV to introduce me to Dra. Claudia de Moral-Gonzales, the new radiologist who specializes in breasts.
The mammogram taken did not show anything and Dra. Claudia then did the ultrasound. She indicated something suspicious, marked it and I returned the next day for the biopsies (again, Pam were there with me).
Dra. Claudia was so compassionate & informative during the procedure which also included a needle biopsy of a lymph node as she thought the cells also looked suspicious. She indicated to us both that there appeared to be a non-aggressive tumor that she felt was under a centimeter and well contained and even suggested the type she thought it might be. A week later the pathology report came back positive and sure enough indicated it was exactly as Dra. Claudia told us, “breast carcinoma with lobular features”.
Both Pam and Dra. Claudia armed me with all the radiology/pathology reports (so many reports translated into English by Pam) and even the tissue is paraffin and I was on my way, New Year’s Eve, to my Sister in Nashville who had set me up to see the Chief of Breast Cancer surgery at Vanderbilt Medical Center.
I would like to add here that because of Pam and the professional explanation by Dra. Claudia, I was not afraid of what I was about to go thru. In fact, I would have definitely considered having the surgery here as I believe in all the Medical Specialists that are available to us here in Puerto Vallarta, but due to the fact that if I were to have radiation I would have to go to Guadalajara for these sessions which could have been anywhere from 2 weeks to 10 weeks, five days a week in a row (depending upon what they found after the surgery) and as I didn’t know anyone in Guadalajara, this was the decision I had to make.
Now at this point, here is where my story becomes quite unbelievable.
At Vanderbilt I did have another mammogram, ultrasound, MRI, etc. before the surgery (I did not need another biopsie as they used the pathology report from Guadalajara after viewing the tissue I brought with me). On 1, February I was prepped and taken into surgery. My Sister, her daughter and granddaughter we there and saw on the TV screen I was indeed in surgery, then my name was taken off a little over an hour later.
The surgeon came to get them and brought them into a conference room to explain that he was not able to perform the surgery as he could not see the tumor on the ultrasound taken at Vanderbilt. He told them, in his 16 years of practice at Vanderbilt, if was the first time he had to make a call from the operating theatre to the Chief of Radiology at Vanderbilt Breast Center to come immediately to the hospital and bring with him the ultrasound report from Dra. Claudia (my Sister’s granddaughter recorded everything he said).
After several hours I was taken to the basement where the Chief of Radiology did another ultrasound and compared it to Dra. Claudia’s ultrasound and informed me that he would have never caught the tumor himself…another milestone as he has been at Vanderbilt for over 25 years. Based on her ultrasound he was able to insert a wire to the tumor (I think it had some ultraviolet rays at the tip) in order to direct the Surgeon where the tumor was.
Whew, what a journey up to this point. I was again taken in for surgery and later the Surgeon came to get my Sister and family into the conference room, again my Sister’s granddaughter recorded everything he said. First he said I was doing well and then said: “from this experience he has gained a new found respect for the Medical Specialists in Mexico, ESPECIALLY FOR DRA. CLAUDIA de MORAL-GONZALEZ”.
After 5 weeks of recovery I then started three weeks/5 days a week of radiation treatments. Two weeks after I finished radiation I was back home in Puerto Vallarta, THANKS GOD.
I feel my story should be told to the Ex-Pat Community and the Medical Community as a testament of how valuable Healthcare Resources is to us as Pam is always the first responder to our medical needs, never failing us, and second to share how blessed we are here as guests of this Country to have available to us the best Medical Specialists at our disposal.