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About Holy Name Medical Center About Holy Name Medical Center

Key Phone Numbers

  • Medical Center Operator

  • 201-833-3000

  • Physician Referral Service

  • 877-HOLY-NAME (465-9626)

  • Patient Information

  • 201-833-3300

  • Foundation (Donations)

  • 201-833-3187

  • Human Resources

  • 201-833-7040

  • Medical Staff Office

  • 201-833-3352

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Ann M - Cancer Brings New Perspective

Ann M. had a full life – a rock of a husband, supportive family, loyal friends from childhood, wonderful co-workers and a fulfilling job. She wasn't looking to make more friends nor share her deepest feelings with strangers. But a cancer diagnosis not only threw her life into a tailspin for a while, it led her down a path she never thought she'd walk.

Ann was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer last year after a routine mammogram. She was looking at a full menu of treatment – chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, immunotherapy and tamoxifen for 10 years. She was upended, feeling like her life was out of control and not knowing what to expect.

"My husband became my advocate, wishing he could fix me," Ann said. "And my mother wished she could have cancer instead. But it doesn't work that way."

So Ann faced one hurdle at a time, enormously grateful each step of the way for the support and help given by loved ones and the compassionate care she received at Holy Name Medical Center. Each physician explained her diagnosis, treatment and prognosis in language she could understand and answered the multitude of questions posed by Ann and her husband. But what became an important part of her journey was Cancer Support Community, formerly Gilda's Club, which offered activities and events at Holy Name that provided support in ways she couldn't imagine.

Her clinical care started when Dr. Joshua Gross, Medical Director of Holy Name's Breast Center, went over her biopsy results. Dr. Erika Brinkmann, Medical Director of Breast Surgery, talked her through the surgery. Dr. Raimonda Goldman, medical oncologist, explained how the chemo would help eradicate the disease but made sure Ann was prepared for all the possible side-effects. Her transition from one doctor and treatment to another was made easier with the help of Sharon Tanner, a nurse navigator.

"Of course, I was scared, but Dr. Goldman made me feel I wasn't going to die on her watch," Ann said. "And the nurses, my breast navigator, they all treated me like I was a member of their family."

Still, Ann had days when she felt isolated and afraid to talk about her feelings because she didn't want to upset her support group. She realized the only people who truly understand what it's like to have cancer are people with cancer.

This is when Cancer Support Community became such a pivotal part of Ann's recovery. It is offered as part of Holy Name's overall mission of providing not only the best clinical care, but also emotional and social support long after treatment ends. Ann wasn't looking to meet new people. She just wanted to do something for herself. Yet while trying classes like "Look Good, Feel Better," jewelry making, yoga, nutrition, expressive writing, drumming and more, she heard other people's journeys and shared her own.

"I met a lot of wonderful patients and survivors," Ann said. "These classes don't have a support group format, but they become like a support group, almost like an extended family. It's where you go to put a smile on your face, laugh, get advice, cry at times and give a hug to those in need. It's a place where you realize you're not alone. You become a part of something bigger than cancer. And I've become really close to some amazing women."

Today, Ann's prognosis is good and she is back to working full-time at her accounting job in New York City. She has made some changes, trying to keep more balance in her life between her career, family, friends and activities, including Cancer Support Community.