When Joan Tremitiere learned she had a malignant tumor in her right breast, she battled cancer head-on with a sunny disposition, prayer and the support of her friends and family.
“My mother, her sister and two of their cousins had breast cancer,” says Tremitiere, a registered nurse at Bluffton-Jasper Volunteers in Medicine (VIM). “I wasn’t taking any chances.” Knowing her family history, Tremitiere faithfully examined her breasts monthly and never failed to schedule her annual mammogram.
|When Joan learned she had a malignant tumor in her right breast, she was determined to have a positive attitude.|
When a suspicious white spot turned up on her mammogram ten years ago, she feared the worst. But a stereotactic biopsy revealed just a breast calcification. In 2012, technicians at Beaufort Memorial Bluffton Medical Services again found an unusual shadow on her mammogram.
“I figured it was another calcification,” Tremitiere says. “I wasn’t all that worried.” She came back to BMH for a breast biopsy. The day after, Dr. Perry Burrus called to inform her that the tissue sample revealed a small cancerous lesion in her right breast.
“When Dr. Burrus told me, I went right into nurse mode,” says Tremitiere, who spent most of her career working in an operating room. “I was worried about it, but I was calm and determined to have a positive attitude.”
The next week she was back at Beaufort Memorial for a breast MRI. After reviewing the results, Dr. Burrus recommended a lumpectomy to remove the lesion and a lymph node biopsy to see whether the cancer had spread beyond her breast tissue. “There were moments when I was down,” Tremitiere concedes. “My biggest fear was that it was in my lymph nodes.”
Tremitiere was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), the most common type of noninvasive breast cancer. The tumor measured less than a quarter of an inch. “Fortunately, we caught it early,” she says. “All the lymph nodes were negative.”
Four weeks after surgery, she began radiation. Throughout her treatment, radiation oncologist Dr. James McNab met with her to discuss her progress. “He spent as much time with me as I needed,” Tremitiere says. “He explained everything and answered all my questions.”
Today, Tremitiere is cancer-free. “I can’t say enough good things about the staff at Beaufort Memorial,” Tremitiere says. “They really seemed to care.”