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St. Anthony's employees 'nurse' each other through breast cancer

Monday September 12, 2011
From left: Judy Evans, RN, Cathy Dobbs-Bowe, RN, and Karen Studyvin, RN, met through a support group at St. Anthony’s Medical Center.
From left: Judy Evans, RN, Cathy Dobbs-Bowe, RN, and Karen Studyvin, RN, met through a support group at St. Anthony’s Medical Center.
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For nurses, providing the very best care to every patient every day is their mission in life. But sometimes, the tables are turned and caregivers find themselves in need of the compassionate, premier care they are used to providing.

For three St. Anthony’s Medical Center nurses in St. Louis, breast cancer statistics became highly personal last year. They were among the 1 in 8 women diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during their lives, regardless of whether they had a family history that increases the risk for breast cancer.

“Mine was caught early during a routine mammogram at St. Anthony’s Breast Health Center,” said Cathy Dobbs-Bowe, RN. “It’s such a frustrating and scary time, especially because I had a grandmother with breast cancer, and I also have two teen daughters.”

Dobbs-Bowe underwent a bilateral mastectomy in May 2010 after a biopsy confirmed cancer was radiating from the milk ducts and into surrounding breast tissue. It is the most commonly diagnosed type of breast cancer.


The nurses say they often schedule time to be “gal pals.”
(Photos courtesy of St. Anthony's Medical Center)
Judy Evans, RN, BS, CCM, also was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. “You go numb and think this can’t be happening to you,” she said. Diagnosed with a more aggressive breast cancer, Evans did what many women do when seeking the best options. “I got a second opinion,” she said matter-of-factly.

After talking with her husband and daughter, Evans returned to Sarah Beth Snell, MD, a surgical oncologist at St. Anthony’s. “I came back because she was wonderful and aggressive in rapidly identifying the best cancer treatment.”

“You need a doctor who is going to be in your corner throughout the entire fight,” Dobbs-Bowe said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better advocate.”

Through a breast cancer support group at St. Anthony’s, the two met Karen Studyvin, RN, BSN, a fellow employee who had put off getting her mammogram for two years. “I knew better but just didn’t make it a priority,” she said. “That was my mistake, and now I tell women all the time not to skip their annual mammograms.”

The three friends often schedule time to be “gal pals.” When Evans wondered about the results of breast reconstruction, Dobbs-Bowe not only explained it, but she also proudly showed what surgeon Thomas Olivier, MD, recreated. “I have a breast that makes me feel and look normal,” said Dobbs-Bowe, who remarried in March. “That makes me feel fantastic.”

Forming a strong support system, the trio held hands as they rallied to support Studyvin during ongoing rounds of chemotherapy treatments.

“These ladies are a lifeline and give me inspiration,” Studyvin said with a smile as tears welled up in her eyes. “We work at St. Anthony’s. We’ve all had our treatment here. Now we’re doing what millions of women have done. We’re wearing pink ribbons and calling ourselves breast cancer survivors."

LEARN MORE

Visit www.Nurse.com/BreastCancer for CE modules,CE webinars, resources for nurses and more.