How My Doctor Personalized My Cancer Battle

Breast cancer survivor, Alicia Porter, and Dr. Laura Miegge smiling in patient room

It wasn’t the first time Alicia Porter felt a lump on her breast. But, when she felt a lump that wasn’t painful, she had a feeling this time it was something serious.

“Breast cancer doesn’t run in my family, but I had a bad feeling about the spot,” Porter says. “Oddly enough, most of the bumps I had were always painful, and this one was painless.”

Shortly after feeling the lump, Porter had a mammogram, which led to the diagnosis of an invasive ductal carcinoma, stage 2 breast cancer.

“I received a call from my doctor asking me to come in for a follow-up appointment. I told him I didn’t need to come see him. I already knew what he was going to tell me — I had cancer. After some persuading, he shared the news with me over the phone and referred me to Dr. Miegge.”

Even though Porter sensed the diagnosis, she was still overwhelmed by the news. Not only was she concerned about what came next for herself, but she also worried because she’s the primary caregiver for both her son and disabled husband. But, Laura Miegge, MD, calmed her fears quickly and scheduled Alicia’s surgery.

“I knew the moment I met Dr. Miegge, I was going to be all right,” Porter says.

Her confidence grew stronger when she shared with Dr. Miegge that her cousin was a physician and would like to be informed of her care. Having family involved was comforting to Porter, but what happened next was more than she expected.

“Instead of simply sharing my chart with him, she asked me for his number and talked with him for over an hour. He called me later and said, ‘You are in good hands. She is the answer to your prayers.’”

Two weeks following her initial mammogram, Porter had surgery to remove the cancerous lump on her breast, as well as a few lymph nodes. A biopsy was sent for testing to determine what the next steps of care were needed.

“I was terrified I was going to have to have chemo, so I was extremely relieved to find out the recommended treatment would be four weeks of radiation ? no chemo,” Porter says.

Porter admits the four weeks of recovery and radiation weren’t always easy. The radiation took a toll on her and often left her feeling exhausted. Yet, the relationships she made with her entire care team motivated her to get to every appointment.

“The process was rather humbling. You’re fully exposed and sometimes placed in awkward positions. I cannot say enough good things about the team. They were always professional and genuine and made me feel like a part of the UnityPoint Health family. They took time to get to know me and were always accommodating in making me as comfortable as possible,” Porter says.

On June 14, 2017, Porter proudly rang the “Done with Treatment” bell.

“I bawled like a baby. Not only because I was relieved I was officially cancer free, but because I was going to miss everyone. I owe my life to UnityPoint Health. I can’t imagine going anywhere else. They will do all they can for you and treat you like family.”

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