Distracted with family, her work as an assistant district attorney and the COVID-19 pandemic, Sally Kirby-Turner says she missed her regular OB-GYN appointment. Sally has known for years that seeing an OB-GYN is important. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when Sally was just a baby and she succumbed to the disease when Sally was only five years old.
“I had my first mammogram in my 20s, before I had children, so I could compare it to after I had children and then every year after I turned 40. In October 2020 I had forgotten my appointment. I was 41 years old, and the results showed I had a mass in my left breast.”
Sally was in shock and scared but felt confident in her physician and her planned treatment. Dr. Katie Borders with Atrium Health Women’s Care Shelby OB-GYN, caught Sally’s cancer early thanks to her patient being so diligent about her own healthcare.
“Too many people think ‘I’m healthy, I don’t need to go to the doctor’,” says Borders. “Really, we love those kinds of visits where we can talk to you about your history and what kinds of screenings you need.”
Borders referred Sally to Dr. Amy Voci with Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute (Breast & Surgical Oncology) where she underwent a lumpectomy to remove the cancer from her breast and a sentinel lymph node biopsy to help discover if the cancer had spread from a tumor to the sentinel lymph node. Three lymph nodes were positive for cancer cells, so Voci performed a full lymph node dissection and gave Sally the good news that the cancer did not spread.
“I have to applaud Sally and Dr. Borders for being diligent with her screening mammograms, so we were able to detect and treat her at an early stage with excellent outcomes,” Voci says.
Borders adds women tend to manage everyone else’s lives so sometimes their health takes a back seat.
“One of the things that needs to be a priority is breast health,” says Borders. “We were watching Sally like a hawk.”
Sally finished radiation in June 2021 and is on hormone suppression therapy, which she jokes, basically puts her in menopause.
“The worst thing,” says Sally, “are the hot flashes. But I’m not going to complain!”
Sally plans to continue scheduling well visits and making her health a priority – for her and her family.
The best cancer care focuses on the whole person. Their physical and emotional needs. That’s what makes Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute the region’s top-rated cancer program and the only program in the nation to be Planetree-certified for compassionate, patient-centered care. We’re here to provide you with the most advanced treatments, including some that aren’t available elsewhere, plus a full suite of cancer support services that ensure you receive comprehensive care for your body and mind. And with a team of 200+ leading cancer doctors, we’re ready to guide you through a personalized care plan designed to help you heal – and thrive.
Learn more at AtriumHealth.org/cancer