Long-time employee earns a living and another chance at life at North Shore Medical Center
Glenda Patterson, breast cancer patient, North Shore Medical Center
For 30 years, Glenda Patterson was a faithful employee of North Shore Medical Center’s central supply department. During her long tenure, she witnessed many changes at the hospital, including the opening of the Comprehensive Breast Institute. However, at the time of its opening, she never could have guessed that the staff there would one day save her life.
Glenda had a family history of breast cancer, as well as fibrocystic breasts, meaning her tissue is denser than normal, so she religiously went in for her annual mammogram. Prior to an upcoming appointment, she noticed two lumps in her left breast, and sure enough, as her technologist, Jet, carried out the exam, Glenda noticed a look of concern on her face.
“I knew the mammogram had detected something serious and I assured Jet that I could handle the news,” recalls Glenda. “I am a woman of God, and trusting His plan, I had already accepted whatever she was about to tell me.”
Dr. Hakan Charles-Harris, medical director of the Comprehensive Breast Institute, performed a same-day biopsy, and a few days later, diagnosed Glenda with stage IIIB breast cancer. This meant that the tumor had spread to her chest wall, skin and potentially her lymph nodes. As they discussed her surgical options, she told Dr. Charles-Harris that she wanted to undergo a double mastectomy. Although only one breast was compromised, she didn’t want to risk the chance of a recurrence, just like a close family member of hers had.
After the surgery, she only spent an extra day at North Shore recovering.
“I was treated like an absolute queen by the hospital staff,” shares Glenda. “I was visited by the hospital’s administrative team, my colleagues, family and even friends from church, including my pastor. Everyone came together to pray and help me through this process, and I am eternally thankful.”
Once Glenda was discharged from the hospital, a nurse came by her house every day to help with her wound dressings and showed her sister, Alicia, how to properly change them. Alicia took over as Glenda’s caregiver and helped her through the eight weeks of chemotherapy and five weeks of radiation therapy that followed.
Now in remission, Glenda urges all women to have their annual mammograms, so they can be diagnosed early and experience as positive of an outcome as she did.
“Most women are scared of mammograms because they think the process will be painful, but with the advanced technology North Shore’s breast center uses, that is not the case,” says Glenda. “I am so blessed that this hospital not only gave me a wonderful career, but also another chance at life.”