Yoga 'Warrior' Faced Breast Cancer Head On

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Often while practicing or teaching yoga Tracey Gaylord would hear her fellow yogis and her instructor call her the ‘Warrior.’ She embraced the nickname. Little did she know how much that strength and fighting spirit would come in handy.

The Diagnosis

Gaylord was unconcerned when she went for her routine mammogram and ultrasound at Baystate Noble Hospital. After a biopsy of a suspicious area, she headed to Vermont for the Fourth of July with her parents and didn’t think much about it. On July 5, a primary care doctor gave her a “clean bill of health.” By late afternoon, all of that changed. The call came in from Baystate Noble, and Gaylord remembers hearing the words, “‘You have breast cancer.’ I remember thinking to myself, I just want a normal life,” said Gaylord.

True to Gaylord’s life and style, she, along with a worried husband who travels frequently for his work and a daughter who was starting her career in another state, faced this head-on.

“I knew it was important to be positive and strong, but I also knew and understood when to surrender and seek help,” said Gaylord. “I recall saying to myself that I had to remain strong. Strong for me, and strong for my husband and daughter.”

The following week, Gaylord met with Dr. Danielle Lipoff, who explained the pathology report and discussed a lumpectomy versus mastectomy. They scheduled a breast MRI for a few days later, on Friday the 13th no less. Gaylord remembers saying to the scheduling nurse, “Are you kidding me?” 

Treatment With Compassion

After a detection of  two tumors, one invasive ductal carcinoma, the other ductal carcinoma in-situ (DCIS), Dr. Lipoff suggested the mastectomy would be the best approach. 

One of the next physician appointments Gaylord had still makes her smile.  She met with Dr. Pranay Parikh, who would be her reconstructive surgeon. Gaylord’s husband was away traveling in Europe for work, so Gaylord and Dr. Parikh Facetimed him, so he could understand what the next several weeks would entail. 

“Facetiming my husband in Europe made my husband feel better to be able to be included and I felt better that the doctor understood and cared enough to include him,” said Gaylord.

Gaylord’s surgery was done in mid-August. Although Gaylord and her family were anxious, all went well. Her husband and daughter even stayed with her overnight, and she was pushing the staff discharge her by noon the next day. She was intent on getting home, following doctors’ orders of lots of rest, but also to beginning this next stage of her life. 

“I’m not one to sit around, and lying in bed was hard for me,” stated Gaylord.  

Getting The All Clear

Her follow-up appointments with the doctors have gone well, and she was thrilled to get the “All looks good. See you in December,” comment from Dr. Lipoff. She was back doing her Warrior pose by the end of August and teaching by mid-September. Gaylord’s reconstructive surgery is planned for November.

Asked about her care at Baystate Health, Gaylord said, “I’m very thankful, and I almost feel guilty about how easy I feel I have had it during this process. I know others may not be as fortunate. I have had the best care.” 

The Warrior nickname fits her well.

The Baystate Breast & Wellness Center offers the most comprehensive care in the region dedicated to providing patients with the latest advances in breast disease diagnosis and treatment. For more information or to make an appointment, call 413-794-8899.

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