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    Maureen's story on beating breast cancer

    As an avid horseback rider and dog trainer, Maureen Lyons has always lived an active lifestyle, which kept her physically fit. She has maintained a healthy diet and gotten plenty of rest, too. In fact, she’s always viewed her healthy lifestyle as natural “insurance” against serious health problems. So it was a complete surprise when she found a lump in her breast two summers ago.

    After being evaluated by Dennis McDonald, M.D., at the Sutter North Bay Breast Care Center, Maureen learned that she had stage 2 breast cancer. She could scarcely absorb the news. “There is absolutely no history of breast cancer in my family,” she says. “I kept thinking, ‘This must be happening to someone else.’”

    To help make sense of the diagnosis and to plan their next steps, Maureen and her husband Jeffrey consulted with Wayne Keiser, M.D., an oncologist affiliated with Sutter Medical Group of the Redwoods, who explained Maureen’s treatment options. Together, the Lyons decided that Maureen would undergo chemotherapy right away—before surgery—with the hope this would arrest the development of any undetected cancer cells that may exist in her body and possibly even shrink the existing cancer in her breast and lymph nodes.

    “From the moment we started talking with the people at Sutter, they were very concerned for how we were feeling,” says Jeffrey. “They made it clear they were there to guide us through the entire process. We felt comforted that they were genuinely concerned for Maureen’s well-being and my own.”

    This positive medical experience continued with the next step: cancer surgery - a double mastectomy and removal of lymph nodes. For that, “Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa was with me every step of the way. The caregivers were all wonderful,” she says.

    “My surgeon, Dr. Charles Elboim, is not only incredibly good at his work, he is also an extremely warm, caring and positive person,” she adds. “The evening after the surgery, he was going to a function with his wife, but he made a special trip to the hospital to check on me. He was all dressed up, but he came by to ask how I was doing. I put my life in his hands, and I would do that again any day.”

    “Being diagnosed with cancer really changes your life,” reflects Maureen. “My first reaction was shock, but then I remembered: I hadn’t had a mammogram in two years. All my mammograms prior to that had been absolutely clean. But obviously, that doesn’t matter.” She adds, “I wish more women would know that—because I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks breast cancer couldn’t happen to her.”

    Maureen has this advice for others facing cancer or other difficult medical issues: “Always keep a positive attitude! And rest assured that as a Sutter patient, you will receive the best of care in a very compassionate manner.”

    “My name is Maureen Lyons, and that’s my story.”