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Sharp Health News

Early detection critical to cancer-free outcome

Oct. 19, 2021

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez with her husband, Nathan Fletcher, and their children.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez with her husband, Nathan Fletcher, and their children.

A well-known and long-time fighter for California’s working families, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of California’s 80th State Assembly district, recently faced another fight much closer to home.

After losing her mother to breast cancer, Gonzalez has been diligent about her annual mammograms. In July, a routine screening mammogram warranted further evaluation. Another mammogram, a biopsy and an MRI all confirmed the Assemblywoman’s worst fears — she had breast cancer. Although it was caught early (stage 0), it was an aggressive form.

Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 44 years old, and the disease took her life 18 years later. Gonzalez’s family history combined with her own numerous breast biopsies convinced her to pursue aggressive treatment.

Under the care of Sharp Rees-Stealy and Sharp Memorial Hospital primary and specialty care doctors, Gonzalez was optimistic about her treatment. “I’m going to be fine. There is no lump, I feel completely healthy, and this is just proof that early screening mammograms work. Get yours, please.”

In September, Dr. Mohan Krishnamoorthy, a board-certified surgeon with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, performed a bilateral mastectomy. Sharp Rees-Stealy board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Alfonso Camberos, began the reconstruction process.

Post-surgery, doctors declared Gonzalez cancer-free. Her Sharp Rees-Stealy board-certified oncologist, Dr. Edward Huynh, told the Assemblywoman to return to the care of her primary care doctor and Dr. Camberos. “I never imagined being so happy to be fired by my oncologist,” Gonzalez shared in one of her frequent social media updates.

Recovery is proceeding as expected, but she describes it as “brutal.” “My village and especially my husband, (San Diego County Supervisor) Nathan Fletcher, have made it much easier. We have been overwhelmed with love and support. It has made the journey so much easier. The care I received from my entire Sharp HealthCare medical team, including my primary care physician, Dr. Prachi Karnik, a board-certified internal medicine doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group; Dr. Jane Conlin, a board-certified diagnostic radiologist with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, who performed all the biopsies; and Dr. Sunanda Pejavar, a board-certified radiation oncologist affiliated with Sharp Memorial Hospital, was superb. I can’t imagine a more caring, knowledgeable and skilled group of doctors. I am officially a survivor thanks to them and to early detection. Get your mammogram.”

Lorena Gonzalez at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk
California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (third from left) with friends and supporters at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.

Now, in addition to helping improve the lives of working- and middle-class folks, Gonzalez has committed to using her story to highlight the need for early cancer screenings and accessibility to health care for all.

Sharp Rees-Stealy is offering walk-in mammograms during October to new and existing patients in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The American Breast Cancer Foundation runs a breast cancer assistance program for those without health insurance or who are in underserved communities.

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