An engineer by profession, Gwen is gifted with a detailed-orientated, type-A personality. And she expects the same level of precision in her personal life, especially when it comes to her health.
Both Gwen's mother and sister succumbed to breast cancer in their late 50s. And with another sister currently fighting the disease, Gwen took a proactive approach to her own breast health with yearly mammograms and pap smears.
Last year, after a mammography and biopsy, she was given the news that she, too, had breast cancer and was referred to cancer surgeon Elizabeth (Min Hui) Kim, M.D., FACS at Sutter Roseville Medical Center. Sutter Roseville Breast Center is accredited by the American College of Surgeons National Accreditation Program For Breast Centers (NAPBC) and dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered and state-of-the-art breast care.
"Dr. Kim was very detailed and thorough," Gwen says. "She presented me with a lot of statistics around current treatments, and I found it very informative and reassuring with her fund of knowledge."
Gwen began her own research as well. Talking to her sister who had recently gone through treatment, interviewing her oncologist, medical oncologist, reconstructive surgeon and a genetic counselor.
"After taking in all the research I had done and talking to Dr. Kim about all my options, speaking with a rest of the breast multidisciplinary team including the medical oncologists, genetics team, and plastic surgeon, I decided it was important for me to move forward with a double mastectomy," Gwen says.
Dr. Kim and Gwen's reconstructive surgeon Jonathan R. Freed, M.D. worked together to perform her nipple-sparing mastectomy with immediate reconstruction so she would only have to undergo one procedure.
"My family and friends that had been through similar experiences were all surprised how fast I recovered," Gwen says. "I attribute that to doing my research and having a treatment team that supported my goals. And I really believe that being in good shape and health before surgery contributed to my remarkable recovery as well."
Now that Gwen is on the recovery track, her focus has switched to making sure she has expanded genetic tests available, so her teenage children are aware of their risk and options in the future. She's also looking forward to competing in a few long-distance, swim races later this year.