A few years ago, a routine mammogram conducted at another healthcare facility revealed early signs of cancer in Janet Capone's left breast. The New Jersey native and former flight attendant was very familiar with this disease after watching her sister and two cousins go through their own diagnoses and treatments. Ms. Capone knew Holy Name Medical Center from health fairs at Bergen County shopping malls.
"I had always heard good things about Holy Name, just good quality care there, that they were warm and compassionate and truly cared about people," says Ms. Capone, who just celebrated her 58th birthday in November with neighbors, friends, and her beloved 10-year-old Shih Tzu, Jasper.
That mattered a great deal to Ms. Capone who had brought her initial mammogram results to other hospitals in Bergen County for follow up tests. At one facility, she sat in a room alone for nearly two hours waiting to be seen. "It was like a factory there with all these women in robes waiting to be seen. I became so upset that I got dressed, asked for my films and left without having any tests done," she says. "It just didn't feel right."
At another hospital, Ms. Capone was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer, a very treatable form of the disease, and, thankfully, the disease had not spread to her lymph nodes. But said she felt rushed to schedule a surgery and wanted more time to digest the diagnosis and better understand her treatment options. "Some of these surgeons are like robots," she says.
That's when she remembered Holy Name Medical Center. A friend suggested Ms. Capone meet with breast surgeon Erika Brinkmann, MD. Ms. Capone brought her sister who had recently undergone a mastectomy for her own breast cancer.
"I got the films and pathology slides and brought everything to Dr. Brinkmann and within the first 10 to 15 minutes I knew she was the doctor for me," says Ms. Capone. "After the meeting, my sister said to me 'boy you're lucky you found her!' I felt good with Dr. Brinkmann. Every time I talked to her I just thought this woman was unbelievable. I felt like her equal. She's brilliant and the conversation was such a relief. She gave me such confidence in her and explained everything. I wasn't going to take someone on this journey with me that I wasn't feeling the right vibe from. She didn't push me to have a surgery. She gave me a time frame. She explained my outcome, about the radiation and the hormone blocker treatment. With her I felt things would be ok.
Ms. Capone underwent a lumpectomy in her left breast and then about seven weeks of radiation . Her radiation oncologist Charles Vialotti, MD, made her feel at ease. "I was nervous in the beginning because I didn't know what to expect with radiation. The set up of the machine is to get the angle right was worse than the radiation itself. You're on your stomach, being repositioned and set up to get it just right so that the radiation hits the specific marks. But the radiation itself was not that bad. I felt a little tired, but my only side effects were the skin on the breast being raw like a sunburn. They gave me a medication cream to put on the breast."
She currently takes Tamoxifen to reduce her risk of recurrence and sees Dr. Brinkmann every six months for a follow up visit. Ms. Capone also continues with regular mammogram screening once a year. Ms. Capone praised the pathologists and Dr. Gross who reads her films for making the journey bearable.
"I'm really, really happy and fortunate that I found Holy Name because now I want to go there for everything, for all my care," says Ms. Capone. "I tell everybody, you want good doctors go to Holy Name."
Having confidence in one's healthcare team can make a big difference in the healing process, says Ms. Capone. "It helps not to feel so nervous and upset ," she says. "Dr. Brinkmann had my back. It's such a different feeling. I knew she gave me all the right information and the confidence that I needed to get through this. I believed in her."
Inspired by the warmth and care she experienced at Holy Name Medical Center, Ms. Capone says she more focused now on giving back to her neighbors and her community. "Holy Name gives 200 percent. I give back in the same way. I was so happy with Holy Name I want to work there," she says."