Persistence leads to mom’s early-stage breast cancer diagnosis

Suzanne Moilanen has lived in six countries in the last 30 years. And while she enjoyed living abroad, it also allowed her to get complacent about her health. “When you’re young and you live overseas, you don’t do well-woman exams every year,” she says, “and you kind of worry only about your kids’ health care needs.” Then last summer, after she’d worked her way up to walking/running eight miles every day, her progress started to diminish. “I was running or walking this long distance, but then I’d take three days to recover physically,” she says. “By October, I couldn’t even finish three miles.” Suzanne’s family doctor ordered a battery of tests, including a mammogram. While blood work revealed that low potassium was causing her sudden weakness, a mammogram performed through MD Anderson Cancer Center Breast Care at Memorial Hermann also detected an abnormality in her right breast. Jay R. Parikh, M.D., scheduled a biopsy. A breast cancer diagnosis The biopsy indicated it was benign tissue with a radial scar, but Parikh insisted that she get it checked out by a surgeon. “The surgeon wasn’t too concerned it was cancer, but he also agreed it needed to come out,” she says. So on February 27, Suzanne underwent a partial mastectomy. Three days later, she learned from pathology results that she had ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) — the earliest stage of breast cancer. “I’d always known it was a possibility based on my research, but it took me a while to digest the news since it happened after the surgery,” she says. Clinical trial shortens breast cancer treatment When Suzanne...