Battling Breast Cancer During a Pandemic

June 16, 2020
Melissa Mathers completed breast cancer treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Melissa Mathers was halfway through seven weeks of radiation therapy at Middlesex Health Cancer Center to treat her breast cancer when Connecticut schools and workplaces began to close down to limit the spread of COVID-19. Despite the pandemic, Middlesex Health Cancer Center remained open and continued to treat patients like Mathers. 

“My goal was to remain healthy so that I could complete my radiation therapy,” says Mathers, of Madison. “The only place I went was the Cancer Center and home. Thankfully, I have a wonderful, supportive husband who went to the grocery store, pharmacy, and the gas station so that my car was always full of gas, and I could get to my treatments.”

The pandemic did not stop Mathers from completing radiation therapy as scheduled, and she has already had a few follow-up appointments conducted virtually.

“The global pandemic put my situation in perspective,” she says. “I was able to take the focus off of my cancer and focus on a bigger issue.”

Melissa Mathers says everyone at Middlesex Health was so compassionate.

Mathers was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2019 and received referrals to three different cancer centers. After getting input from family and friends, she chose to have her treatment at Middlesex Health Cancer Center.

“I can’t say enough about my entire experience at Middlesex Health,” she says. “From the beginning, I’ve received a very high level of care. Everyone is so compassionate, not only to me, but also to my husband. We felt very well taken care of. The quality of care was exceptional.”

One reason Mathers chose Middlesex was because of its membership in the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

“Having the connection to Mayo Clinic and their research knowledge gave me the confidence that I would receive high quality care from Middlesex Health, in a smaller setting,” she says.

During her treatment, Mathers was able to access several services and programs offered by Middlesex Health Cancer Center. This included support from the breast cancer nurse navigator, enrollment in a genetic testing clinical trial and the use of the deep inspiration breath hold technique, a technique that limits radiation exposure to the heart for patients with left-sided breast cancer.

“The nurse navigator has checked up with me from the very beginning,” Mathers says. “She was so kind, so timely in getting back to me. She had a calm presence and was able to answer my questions. Fortunately for me, chemotherapy was not a necessary part of my treatment plan. This allowed me to return more quickly to everyday life. I am truly grateful for each member of the Middlesex Health Cancer Center team for the meaningful work they choose to do. My cancer journey has been better because of each person I encountered.”

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