“I’m a firm believer in keeping a positive attitude and your mind engaged. It will help you push through the tough times,” said Angie Morris, a former patient at The University of Kansas Cancer Center at St. Francis Campus, and a breast cancer survivor.
Morris has firsthand experience with the power of a positive attitude, as it has helped her battle two bouts of breast cancer over the past two and a half years.
“Without that positive attitude, you might find yourself overwhelmed by it all. But if you take one day, one week at a time, you will find the strength you didn’t know you had and it will help you get through.”
Cancer is an unwelcomed member of Morris’s family, as both sides of her family have dealt with colon cancer over the years. After her father lost his battle with colon cancer 10 years ago, Morris and her siblings regularly undergo colonoscopies. She is also diligent in getting an annual mammogram as well, which is why her initial diagnosis was a surprise.
“I went in for my mammogram and they called the next day to tell me they saw a spot and wanted to get a better look at it,” Morris said. “So this time I went in for a 3D mammogram. That’s when they decided to take a biopsy of the spot they saw.”
When she got the results of the biopsy, so many emotions came flooding in.
“I was scared, of course, and shocked because there's never been breast cancer in my family; it just came out of nowhere.”
Morris was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, a rare form that affects 10-20% of all breast cancer patients.
Triple-negative breast cancer is considered to be more aggressive and has a poorer prognosis than other types of breast cancer, mostly because there are fewer medicines that directly combat the cancerous cells.
“From the get-go we treated her quite aggressively with a standard regimen of medications,” said Amy Greenfield, APRN at The University of Kansas Cancer Center at St. Francis Campus. “We added an extra drug that has not been part of this regimen for a long time, which is used specifically for triple negative tumors. This drug has been clearly proven to improve the response rate to the medications,” Greenfield said.
Morris admits that she couldn’t have gone through all the tests and treatments without the support of her family and co-workers. “I have a small, immediate family and we're very close. Having them on this journey with me was very important because they helped get my son to school or get me to my appointments. It’s been a team effort.”
Her co-workers also played a vital role in supporting Morris during her treatments. Since the pandemic was in full force and she couldn’t have visitors, she would endure a 4-5 hour treatment by herself.
On the days she had a treatment, her co-workers would spend their lunch hour outside of her room while they sat in lawn chairs facing the treatment room windows. They wore t-shirts and held up signs to support her.
“It was a cool thing because they were not only supporting me but everyone in the treatment rooms. The staff and volunteers would say to other patients: ‘Look, people do support you, even though they may not be able to be in here with you or your family, people are out there supporting you.’”
The staff at The University of Kansas Cancer Center at St. Francis Campus scheduled her chemotherapy treatments right away. Over the next six months Morris underwent two types of chemotherapy and experienced great results: the tumor disappeared. To help guard against it returning, she also underwent a double mastectomy and thought she was in the clear.
The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus offers digital breast imaging services, including 3D technologies, at two convenient locations. Call 785-295-8013 to schedule. To learn more about our cancer services or specialists, visit kutopeka.com/cancer.