“Everybody’s story is different,” says Christina Piel, a 50-year-old Special Education teacher and a patient of New York Cancer & Blood Specialists (NYCBS).
Adapting to COVID-19 wasn’t the only challenge the Longwood School District educator and mother of three had to navigate. Christina was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in September 2020 after a routine mammogram and needle biopsy came back malignant. Fortunately, her doctor caught the disease early, and her prognosis was good.
She describes the meeting with her surgeon at the Fortunato Breast Health Center. In Christina’s case, her surgeon removed the lump and sent her to an oncologist, Dr. Nouri, at NYCBS. Other people had their opinions on where she should receive treatment. Christina, however, “knew immediately upon meeting Dr. Nouri and the ancillary staff that she was in the right place.”
Christina underwent a lumpectomy and 12 weeks of chemotherapy. “Oddly enough,” she says. “It became my routine; a reason to get out of the house.” For Christina, treatment wasn’t always a breeze. “Mild fatigue, mild nausea, but severe anxiety,” she said of her experience with chemotherapy. “Everyone in the office was so friendly and helpful. The nurses sensed when I was anxious, and their calm demeanors really helped me relax.”
She also found comfort in the well-coordinated care, making her treatment feel simple, as well as the numerous services offered to her. Christina was tested for an inherited genetic mutation since her mother had breast cancer years ago. Her results came back negative, putting her at ease.
Ultimately, the most significant reassurance came from her friends and family. Every Tuesday, while she was at treatment, her colleagues and students showed their support by wearing pink t-shirts to school. When she would get home, she’d find a “little something” left by her children. Her neighborhood even rallied together to provide her family with food and gifts, especially around the holidays. “I have an amazing support system,” Christina said.
Her greatest love and support came from her husband, who would always bring her to and from treatment. Today, five months later, thanks to early detection, Christina celebrates her last day of chemotherapy. Standing outside awaiting her exit, he holds a sign with an important message for the disease. “Sorry, Cancer. I’m taking my wife back!”