They say that our true colors often come out during trying times. For Pauline Yannece, who was born and bred in New York, her fighting spirit showed up at exactly the right moment. Moreover, it delivered a one-two punch to the breast cancer detected in her body during the winter of 2013.
When Ms. Yannece first heard of her cancer diagnosis, she immediately reacted: “I can’t die. I have a son.”
Partly because of her attitude and partly because of the treatment she received at Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, Mrs. Yannece is now cancer free.
“I am not the calmest cucumber, weigh 93 pounds soaking wet and hate drugs,” says the 50-year-old West Caldwell resident. “But each doctor who treated me was a perfect fit.”
Mrs. Yannece’s story began when she found a lump in her left breast, which turned out to be three malignant tumors. Days later, an MRI revealed identical cancer patterns in her other breast. She was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer.
“With at least six tumors and a doctor I trusted completely, I began surrendering my ‘Empire State of mind’ and accepting the fact that cancer would take my two breasts,” says Mrs. Yannece.
A bilateral mastectomy took place immediately. But the news following the mastectomy was not what she had hoped for when a few cancerous lymph nodes were found. Chemotherapy treatments and radiation therapy were next in line.
I had assembled a world-class Garden State medical and IM team all under one roof at the Simon Cancer Center. They saved my life. And they all hugged me to boot!– Pauline Yannece
Each doctor led her to the next, and they didn’t just come recommended; she heard lots of heartfelt praise about each one.
And there was another layer of support services just as invaluable to Mrs. Yannece: “The people and programs that care for the patient’s mind and spirit distinguished themselves the most to me.”
“Getting through my breast cancer diagnosis and, to an even greater extent, learning how to be a survivor was less about medicine than about harnessing the strategies and energy to cope and heal that I found through integrative medicine (IM),” she said.
Diane Haley, LCSW, coordinator of psychosocial support services at the Simon Cancer Center, introduced her to Eastern-based relaxation techniques, including guided imagery, meditation and more.
“I had assembled a world-class Garden State medical and IM team all under one roof at the Simon Cancer Center,” she says. “They saved my life. And they all hugged me to boot!”