In January, Gloria decided it was time to switch her health insurance coverage to Sharp Health Plan. After her appointment with her primary care doctor, Dr. Cristina Misra, at Sharp Rees-Stealy Chula Vista, Dr. Misra advised that she have a mammogram screening as soon as possible due to her age and previous medical history.
"Right away they did an ultrasound," says Gloria. "They later suggested doing a biopsy, and within two weeks I had surgery. I had stage 2 breast cancer."
Gloria was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which meant that the cells that line the milk ducts of the breast had become cancerous, but the cancer had not yet spread into the surrounding breast tissue. According to the American Cancer Society, when breast cancer is detected early, such as Gloria's case, it is easier to treat successfully.
"My family motivates me to keep fighting," Gloria says. "My granddaughter was away in New York during my first surgery. Thankfully, she was back in town to be there for my second surgery after her school transitioned online during quarantine. She sat with me and helped me before and after my surgery. My son and daughter motivated me to look ahead and be thankful that Sharp's physician experts were able to detect the cancer."
Gloria adds, "When I switched over to Sharp HealthCare, I received a letter from my previous health care provider recommending me to make a mammogram screening appointment in November. If I would have waited until then, my situation and health could have worsened."
A few months later, Gloria had her last surgery and began receiving radiation treatment at the Douglas & Nancy Barnhart Cancer Center at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.
At the Barnhart Cancer Center, patient care is a team effort and each patient benefits from a wide range of expertise to ensure patients receive the best quality care. Every patient makes a lasting impact on the care team.
Living in the South Bay, Gloria benefited from the cancer center's complimentary transportation service, where she immediately sparked a friendship with the drivers.
"We are doing our job as we are treating you and talking, but you are a person beyond just your disease," says Barbara Hayes, radiation therapist at the cancer center. "I always tell them it's just a bump in the road. When they ring the bell, they've gotten over this big hump — and it's a big hump."
Gloria's last day of radiation treatment was in October and, although she wasn't able to be surrounded by her friends and family due to current health guidelines, she was with her amazing Barnhart Cancer Center family, who was also with her throughout the hardest moments of her journey to recovery. In celebration of this incredible milestone, she rang the bell as a symbol of closure and accomplishment for all that she overcame this year.
"Appreciate life and take care of yourself more. Be more cautious of yourself and try to get other women to take care of themselves and get that mammogram appointment," Gloria says.
"The Barnhart Cancer Center staff have been so caring and patient with my family and me," she says. "It's going to be strange not returning for my appointments every day after coming here for 28 days."