Olathe resident and real estate agent Bev Huff was fighting breast cancer long before she was diagnosed in November 2020. In the years leading up to her diagnosis, both Bev’s mom and aunt battled the disease. She followed their cancer journeys closely. When Bev was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma (the most common type of breast cancer) on her aunt’s last day of cancer treatment, her world was turned upside down.
This Time Was Different
Although Bev had a family history of breast cancer, she didn’t carry a genetic mutation that caused breast cancer. She had done the genetic testing and annual mammograms, knowing she couldn’t be too careful. That’s why her annual mammogram last November felt routine.
“Things were different this time,” Bev said. “With my 60th birthday and 40th wedding anniversary on the horizon, I never saw this coming. That’s why screenings are key to the early detection of breast cancer.”
Routinely working long hours and springing into action to meet the needs of her buyers and sellers, Bev was used to turning on a dime. Despite the initial shock, Bev approached her breast cancer with the same attitude.
“She met her diagnosis with knowledge, accepting it and moving forward,” Janet Matthias, BSN, RN, Olathe Health Cancer Center’s breast nurse navigator, said. “She went through her treatment with grace.”
A Very Long Year
Bev’s mom received her treatment at Olathe Health Cancer Center, however Bev wanted to get additional opinions before she began treatment. After researching providers and meeting with doctors throughout the area, Bev chose Olathe Health Cancer Center.
“I felt most comfortable here,” Bev recalled. “The doctors presented my treatment options and answered all my questions. I felt like we made a joint decision when it came to my treatment.”
Together, Bev and her care team devised a treatment plan comprised of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and long-term hormone modulation therapy (HMT). After Craig A. Anderson, MD, FACS, Olathe Health Cancer Center’s breast surgeon, removed the small, aggressive tumor that sat against Bev’s chest wall, Bradley W. Storm, MD, completed her breast reconstruction.
Once recovered from surgery, Bev was slotted to begin chemotherapy. On the way to her first appointment, she started to feel ill. After driving straight to the Emergency Room at Olathe Medical Center, Bev learned she was having a heart attack. The cardiologists treated this immediately by placing a stent to clear a 75% artery blockage, and Bev spent a few days recovering in the hospital before beginning chemotherapy in late March.
“My heart attack was unexpected and challenging,” Bev said. “But chemo – that was tough.”
Bev was extremely sensitive to her chemotherapy treatments and had to be monitored closely by staff during each session. Often sick and depleted after treatment, Bev’s care team was with her every step of the way. Whether it was Larry R. Corum, MD, Bev’s medical oncologist, calling at night to check in on her or it was Kristi Mahanke, BSN, RN, a chemotherapy nurse, shaving her head for breast cancer awareness, Bev felt enveloped in support.
Turning a Corner
After completing surgery and chemotherapy, Bev began radiation with Bertram W. Maidment, III, MD, radiation oncologist. In July 2021, Bev finished her twentieth, and final, radiation session, bringing her initial treatment course to a close. Although Bev is on long-term hormone modulation therapy for at least the next five years, she made it through the most difficult year of her life, something she can’t imagine doing without the Olathe Health Cancer Center team.
“The early detection of breast cancer saved my life. I lived to celebrate my 60th birthday and 40th wedding anniversary,” Bev said. “I made it here, and I am forever grateful for ‘today’.”
Wasting no time, Bev got back to work with her realty team. She got back to her husband and the life they’ve been building the last four decades. “Back” and eager to see what the future brings, Bev is an inspiration and agent for early breast cancer detection.
Early detection is the best protection. Schedule your mammogram today.
If you haven’t scheduled your annual mammogram, or put it off this year because of COVID, it’s time to get back on track. Seeing a provider is safe, and the best defense against breast cancer is early detection. Our experienced teams, including fellowship-trained breast radiologists, employ the very latest mammography tools, and our imaging suites were designed with your comfort in mind.
- Olathe Health Pavilion, 913-791-4395
- Miami County Medical Center, 913-294-6611
Saturday appointments in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
Some warning signs of breast cancer include:
- New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit)
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
- Pain in any area of the breast
Breast Cancer Resources
Olathe Health offers cancer resources for people who have cancer. If you are looking for a cancer specialist or need a second opinion, you can find physicians specializing in breast cancer care by searching here.