Pamela Josephs didn’t let the COVID-19 pandemic interfere with taking care of her health. The 74-year-old Oakland Park resident got health screenings as recommended. That included scheduling a mammogram in December 2020, even though she was spending time in another part of the state away from home. When the mammogram showed abnormal tissue in her left breast and it was confirmed on a breast ultrasound, a radiologist recommended that she undergo a biopsy to see whether the suspicious tissue was cancerous.
When Josephs returned home after the new year, she went to Broward Health Medical Center for the biopsy. There, she learned she had stage 1 breast cancer. Filled with anxiety, Josephs said her surgical oncologist, Alia Abdulla, D.O., director of the breast program at Broward Health Medical Center, put her at ease.
“I was nervous at first, but Dr. Abdulla explained how she was going to remove the cancer and how long it would take,” Josephs said. “She made me feel so calm.”
Expert Care Close to Home
Josephs feels fortunate for taking her daughter’s suggestion to go to Broward Health Medical Center for her care. The medical center offers comprehensive care for every type and stage of breast cancer, starting with detecting breast cancer through survivorship. The team of specialists includes surgeons and other skilled professionals.
• Advanced breast imaging technology for cancer screening and diagnosis.
• Cutting-edge surgical techniques, such s breast-conserving surgery (BCS) and nipple- and skin-sparing mastectomies with or without breast reconstruction.
• Up-to-date radiation and chemotherapy protocols.
• Access to clinical trials of new therapies.
“We treat each breast cancer patient on an individual basis,” said Dr. Abdulla. “We evaluate each patient’s tumor biology and individual biology and tailor their treatment to their specific cancer cells. This targeted therapy allows us to treat patients in the way that gives them their best chance for survival and cancer remission.”
Hope for High-Risk Women
Broward Health Medical Center recently launched an innovative High-Risk Breast Cancer Screening and Genetics Clinic for those at higher risk of breast cancer due to genetic mutations, a family history of breast cancer or previous abnormal breast findings. The clinic’s multidisciplinary team, which includes specially trained genetic counselors and physicians, provides high-risk patients with:
• Hereditary risk assessment.
• Genetic counseling and testing.
• Cancer screenings.
• Prevention programs.
The Road to Recovery
At the end of March 2021, Josephs underwent a BCS procedure, an option for some women with early-stage breast cancer. During the procedure Dr. Abdulla removed the cancer while leaving as much healthy breast tissue as possible. Josephs will take a daily aromatase inhibitor that inhibits the production of estrogen, considered to play a role in the development of breast cancer, for at least five years.
“Previously, breast cancer was a very scary diagnosis,” Dr. Abdulla said. “Early detection was a breakthrough for patients. Now with early detection and targeted therapy, patients have even better outcomes. Today, many breast cancer patients live cancer-free for years and have a very good quality of life.”
Josephs urges people who may have put off cancer screenings to get them as soon as possible.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic, things have been a little difficult,” Josephs said. “People shouldn’t delay cancer screenings and treatments. I know it can be scary, but everyone I met at Broward Health was helpful, pleasant and professional.”
Josephs moved to the U.S. five years ago to join her daughters. Originally from Jamaica, she’s planning to apply for U.S. citizenship. She had such a positive experience with Dr. Abdulla and Broward Health Medical Center that she plans to volunteer at the hospital in the future.