Beating the Odds: Expert Care Helps Woman Fight Breast Cancer
When Zina Morton of Baltimore was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2010, she was shocked. "I went into the emergency room because I was having awful pains in my side," said Morton, 46. "I never expected it to be cancer."
Dr. Gayatri Nimmagadda, Morton's medical oncologist at MedStar Harbor Hospital, explained that the pain was caused by breast cancer that had spread to her pelvis and back.
Paving the Way for Treatment
With the help of her primary care provider, nurse practitioner Stephanie Greisman of Harbor Primary Care at MedStar Harbor Hospital, Morton scheduled appointments with Nimmagadda to begin treatment immediately.
"My role was to keep Zina on track with her treatment. She was really overwhelmed at first with all the visits. So I helped make sure she made it to all of her appointments and kept her follow-up visits," said Greisman. "I also made sure we kept up with her routine health care needs that weren't related to her cancer."
Morton appreciated Greisman's help and attention to her care. "I saw Stephanie right after I was first diagnosed with cancer and she was so helpful. She's just one of those people that you can really talk to - I feel like I can tell her anything," said Morton.
Cancer Care with a Personal Touch
When Morton began her cancer treatment, Nimmagadda arranged for her to speak with a breast cancer survivor about her experience. "Talking with someone else who had breast cancer helped release a lot of pressure for me. I learned from her that it's possible to survive breast cancer," said Morton.
Through each stage of treatment, Nimmagadda made sure Morton understood exactly what to expect. "Dr. Nimmagadda explained everything step by step," said Morton. "From start to finish, at every step of the process, she was there. She was always checking in on me and making sure I was doing okay." Nimmagadda even helped Morton get a wig when she lost her hair during chemotherapy.
Nimmagadda believes developing a strong relationship with her patients is beneficial to their treatment. "It's really gratifying to be able to help patients like Zina through their treatment," said Nimmagadda. "We work as a team to offer compassionate, personalized care and help patients understand what they're going through. It helps our patients tolerate treatment a lot better."
Enjoying a Healthy Recovery
Morton has now finished treatment and her cancer is in complete remission. She's getting back to her regular schedule, including attending church regularly and caring for her two grandchildren while her daughter is at work.
Although her treatment is done, she stops in to see Nimmagadda at least once a week, just to keep in touch. "After what we've been through together, she's like family now," Morton said. "My treatment was like a miracle. I felt blessed through the whole experience."