When a radiologist discovered several dark images on her mammogram, Gloria LoSasso got a cold shiver down her spine and knew something was wrong.
The West Town resident was in for a routine mammogram at Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center (PSMEMC) in 1998. Because of the suspicious images on the mammogram, the radiologist performed a needle biopsy of the breast that same day. The results were positive — she had breast cancer. On Tuesday, she had the mammogram screening and biopsy. That Friday, the patient was scheduled for a mastectomy.
"Surgery and recuperation were brutal," said LoSasso, now age 63, noting she wasn't nervous about having breast cancer or a mastectomy, although her husband was scared. "Having my breast removed didn't diminish me as a person — it didn't hit me that way." She said the good news was that she didn't need follow up radiation or chemotherapy treatments.
Cancer in Other Breast
Fast forward to 2008. LoSassa was diagnosed with cancer in the other breast and would need another mastectomy. Giovanni Giannotti, M.D., a board-certified surgeon, performed the mastectomy at PSMEMC.
"The second time it was a walk in the park," said LoSasso, a retired hair stylist of 27 years and former owner of two salons. She was happy that she didn't need follow-up therapy the second time around.
"I love Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth," LoSasso said. "I love the 11th floor (medical-surgical oncology) — it's my home away from home. I make cookies for the staff at Christmas time. They are part of my family."
14 Surgeries at PSMEMC
LoSasso knows many of the staff at PSMEMC by first name. A widow since 2000, LoSasso has had 14 surgeries at the medical center in 17 years. She has diabetes, arthritis and diverticulitis (stomach condition). In 2010, she had a hysterectomy and the wound didn't heal properly because of her diabetes, which can slow the healing process. As a result, she's been a patient at PSMEMC's Wound Healing Center, which treats patients with chronic, non-healing wounds.
"I like all my physicians - Dr. Chua (gastroenterologist), Dr. Gilden (endocrinologist) and Dr. Giannotti (surgeon)," she said.
Cancer Survivors' Mass
LoSasso is a regular attendee at the medical center's annual cancer survivor's mass and breakfast. In 2010, recovering from her hysterectomy, a radiology tech picked her up at her home by car and brought her to the Mass. In 2011, she participated in the Mass. Read more about her role in the 2011 Mass.
"I haven't missed the Mass since I had cancer in 1998," said LoSasso, who lives in the West Town apartment that her great grandfather built in 1899 and where she grew up.
"I've had a good life and I'm grateful for my life," said LoSasso, who has a positive outlook on life. She also is grateful for the care she has received at the medical center.