Sherri Conrad of Cedar Rapids, IA has spent the majority of her career in health care. She had the opportunity to be a traveling nurse and spent years living in various parts of the country. In 2017, at the age of 58, she was living in Texas when she began to feel like her health was a taking a turn. She got honest with herself; that she was getting older and needed to move back home to Iowa.
When Sherri returned home she established care with Nikki Woolley, DNP, with UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine – Westdale. As part of getting her health in check, Sherri was referred to St. Luke’s Breast & Bone Health for a mammogram screening. An abnormality was seen on the mammogram and a breast core biopsy was ordered. She has had two biopsies performed on her breast in the past, but the results were benign.
Two days after the biopsy, Sherri received a phone call confirming breast cancer, or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). DCIS is noninvasive, meaning it hasn’t spread out of the milk duct. She quickly met with her care team and was still in an emotional state. Her team included Mona Cook, BSN, RN, care coordinator with the Helen G. Nassif Community Cancer. Sherri explains that Mona quickly became her anchor, “She [Mona] sat with me the whole time during the initial appointment, holding my hand and keeping me calm. I’ve never had someone zone in on my mood like that.”
Sherri underwent a total mastectomy in December 2017. To help speed up healing and prevent buildup of fluid, a surgical drain, or tube, was placed. She had to keep her left arm elevated which resulted in pain, stiffness and eventually the inability to lower her arm.
She worked with Matt Schmitz, CSCS, CES, AFT, cancer exercise specialist, to improve range of motion in her arm. He provided exercises she was able to do at home, carefully reviewed her progress and made adjustments as needed. “I never felt rushed while working with Matt. He was thoughtful, encouraging, and kept a close eye on my progression. I was feeling great after a few months!”
Sherri has been cancer-free for a year and two months. “Looking back on a time that was terribly stressful and scary, I only have positive memories and it’s all thanks to Mona and the rest of my care team. Every experience was a positive one. I would tell anyone with cancer to look to the Community Cancer Center.”
Click here to read more stories from those we’ve had the privilege of caring for at the Community Cancer Center.