Cindi Moulden-Keyes Shares Her Cancer Story to Help Others
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, and made an appointment at the Baystate Breast & Wellness Center.
The 48-year-old says it’s the best decision she ever made.
The mammogram showed a suspicious mass in her left breast. After an ultrasound and biopsy, Moulden-Keyes says her worst fears came true. But she was grateful for the individualized plan of care and support from her oncologist, Dr. Grace Makari-Judson (who she calls Dr. MJ), chair of the Baystate Health Breast Network.
Personalized Care, Close to Home
“The plan was first to shrink the tumor through chemo,” 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, walking 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.
“We decided as a team that if they results came back positive for the BRCA gene mutation, I would have a bilateral mastectomy to help prevent future recurrences,” says Moulden-Keyes. Fortunately, however, the test results came back negative.
After an MRI showed the chemotherapy had successfully shrunk the tumor, Moulden-Keyes underwent a lumpectomy, and testing showed the cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes. She then had radiation therapy, “just to be on the safe side,” she says.
“Everyone at Baystate and the D’Amour Center for Cancer Care was incredible,’ says Moulden-Keyes. “I feel like each one was an angel that was put into my life to guide me through this process. Dr. MJ is one of the best doctors that you could ever hope for. It was great having all of these cancer services right here, without having to travel far from home.”
Advice for Women
Moulden-Keyes shares her advice with other women: “Be sure to get your regular physicals, not just your mammograms, but everything necessary to maintain a woman’s good health.”
She also advises women to take control of their health. “If you see a spot or feel a lump or bump that wasn’t there the day before, get it checked out. Most of the time, it’s probably 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.