Elma Courtenay was treated for Breast Cancer at the DeCesaris Cancer Institute. She says just knowing she was in the best hands possible helped her focus her energy on getting well.
“You know you hear the word cancer, and the first word that pops into your head is death. When I was given the diagnosis, my mind was a complete blank. Then Dr. Tafra said something that made all the difference. When she first saw me, she said, “We’re going to get you down to a healthy weight.” Those were the words of life and hope. I thought, ‘that could take a long time,’ and, immediately, I knew I was going to live. And I held on to those words every single day.
I was given chemo to treat the breast tumor so I could have the surgery. My nurse navigator was so amazing. I had never heard of a nurse navigator before, but it was such a godsend. They walk you through everything so you’re focusing on healing yourself and not worrying about who you have to make appointments with. Just knowing that she was always there at a moment’s notice to return my call immediately was amazing. It just made everything so literally stress-free because the one worry I did not have in my life at the time was my medical attention and care.
I sensed and I knew that I was in the best of care possible and the rest was up to me. I really focused on keeping everything positive; not listening to news, and even being very selective of the music I was listening to. I changed my thought process, and I welcomed the medication. I saw it as the airstrike coming into my body to get rid of the bad army. I cut out all processed food, all sugar, all carbs. I ate very natural organic foods. I dropped 25 pounds. It sounds strange but I felt healthier.
And the tumor shrank beyond my doctor’s expectations. When I was first diagnosed, a lumpectomy was not on the table. It was going to be a mastectomy. But the tumor shrank enough for a lumpectomy.
Then, after the surgery, during my radiation treatment, my husband who is in the Marine Corps, was transferred to Texas. But with the care and compassion that I received there at the breast center, I could not just stop right in the middle. I realized I was surrounded by compassionate people that really wanted to see me go through it with the least worries and stress. So I told my husband, “Go ahead and go. I am in very good hands.” And I was.
Now that all my tests have come back negative, I’m getting ready to join him. And I am so, so thankful for the wonderful, wonderful care I got at Anne Arundel Medical Center. Being in a place where I could get the quality of care, the attention that they give to their patients made a big difference in my recovery.”