As a busy mother juggling child-rearing, two jobs, teaching dance, and going to college, Cindi Moulden-Keyes of Springfield admits getting regular mammograms fell to the bottom of her to-do list.
But with a family history of breast cancer, she knew she couldn’t put it off forever. She made an appointment at the Baystate Breast & Wellness Center.
The 48-year-old says it’s the best decision she ever made.
FROM DIAGNOSIS TO CARE PLAN
The mammogram showed a suspicious mass in her left breast. After an ultrasound and biopsy, Moulden-Keyes says her worst fears came true. Dr. Grace Makari-Judson (Dr. MJ), of Baystate Breast and Wellness Center, quickly started working with Moulden-Keyes to create a personalized plan to treat her cancer.
“The plan was first to shrink the tumor using chemotherapy,” says Moulden-Keyes. “Dr. MJ also explained the rest of my treatment plan, along with all the medications I would be taking and what to expect. She was great. She walked me through the whole process step by step.”
Because of Moulden-Keyes’s extensive family history of breast cancer, Dr. Makari-Judson recommended genetic testing as well.
WORKING TOGETHER, CLOSE TO HOME
“We decided as a team that if the results came back positive for the BRCA gene mutation, I would have a bilateral mastectomy to help prevent future recurrences,” says Moulden-Keyes. Fortunately, the test results came back negative.
An MRI showed the chemotherapy had successfully shrunk the tumor. Further testing showed that the cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes. With this information, Moulden-Keyes and her care team opted for a lumpectomy, a procedure where only the tumor and surrounding tissue is removed from the breast.
She also had radiation therapy, “just to be on the safe side,” she explains.
TAKING CONTROL OF HER HEALTH
“Everyone at Baystate and the D’Amour Center for Cancer Care was incredible,’ says Moulden-Keyes. “I feel like each one of the staff was an angel put into my life to guide me through this process. Dr. MJ is one of the best doctors that you could ever hope for. And it was great having all of these cancer services right here, without having to travel far from home every week.”
Moulden-Keyes shares this advice for other women: “Be sure to get your regular physicals, not just your mammograms, but everything your doctor recommends to stay healthy.”
She also tells women to take control of their health. “If you see a spot or feel a lump, get it checked out. Most of the time, it’s nothing, but if you get it checked you’ll know for sure. Also, know your family history. If you have a history of breast cancer or other illness, be sure to tell your doctors and be open to genetic testing.”
Moulden-Keyes says that with her aggressive type of cancer, she’s glad she acted when she did. “I was lucky they caught my cancer when they did, even though I had put off the mammogram,” she says.
“If I had waited any longer, I might not be alive today.”
Learn more about getting screened for breast cancer.