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‘I Felt So Taken Care of’: Local Cafe Owner Shares Appreciation for Methodist Staff Amid Breast Tumor DiscoveryPublished: Dec. 29, 2021
Rachel Evans went to her annual well-woman exam during the fall of 2020 with hopes of a positive report. As a woman in her mid-30s, she didn’t even consider thoughts of cancer.
Unfortunately, her gynecologist found a lump in one her breasts, prompting an appointment at Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center (MECC) for a mammogram and ultrasound.
The timing of this discovery was less than ideal. The weekend before her appointment, Rachel and her husband Adam had opened their own business, Edge of the Universe cafe, in Benson.
The First Mammogram
Rachel recalls her first mammogram being a painful but pleasant experience thanks to the presence of mammography tech Kathy Mass.
Now retired after 20 years with Methodist, Mass described the most important part of her job: “Keeping your patient calm and getting their cooperation is one thing that you learn – real quick. And it makes for a better exam for the patient and you.”
Rachel enjoyed that Mass talked with her during the entire appointment.
“It was like visiting my grandma,” she said. “I also can't say enough of how positive and professional she was.”
The initial screening revealed just a small mass, which didn’t cause Rachel’s care team to panic – as long as it didn’t grow.
“We chose to just follow things because everything looked benign,” said, Lisa Poole, MD, Rachel’s breast surgeon with Methodist Physicians Clinic. “But with her being anxious, we talked about having her come back for repeat imaging to see if there were any changes and addressing it at that point.”
Patient and Optimistic
Six months after her first appointment, the cafe owner returned to MECC and found out that her tumor had grown almost 40 percent. A biopsy was now necessary. This new information caused fear to creep into her mind, but she also had confidence in each of her “awesome” nurses and doctors, who thoroughly answered her questions related to potential pregnancy, breastfeeding and general sensations.
“They were so patient, so optimistic – everything just felt very positive and calming,” Rachel said. “Even when my mind went blank and my husband had to ask questions for me because I couldn’t think straight, they listened to every concern, every possibility.”
Despite the COVID-19 climate, Dr. Poole and her team prefer to discuss biopsy results with patients in person rather than over the phone.
“We think that seeing patients in person helps for them to understand exactly what the biopsy came back as,” she said. “Making sure that it’s really clear what it is and what the plan is moving forward really helps people feel more comfortable with things.”
Rachel’s biopsy revealed that the tumor was still benign. She was given the option to have it removed or continue monitoring it. She chose the latter with an optimistic view that it wouldn’t get any worse.
No More Waiting
Rachel returned for a check-up with Dr. Poole during the early part of November, nearly a year after the tumor was discovered.
Rachel appreciated that Dr. Poole approached her as a friend rather than just another patient.
“She noticed my hair and asked about the cafe,” Rachel said. “I didn’t feel like a number, and I’m sure she had many other people she had to see that day.”
Dr. Poole knows that building a rapport with patients helps them feel more comfortable during possibly anxious moments.
“Trying to get to know your patients on a personal level really puts them at ease,” she said. “I think one thing that has drawn me to breast surgery is that there’s a lot more opportunities to establish relationships with patients.”
An ultrasound revealed that Rachel’s tumor had gotten bigger and needed to be removed – there was no more waiting. While the news was alarming, Rachel knew that she was in good hands.
“It was very stressful to hear that – it’s my first big surgery.” she said. “I am an insanely anxious person, but I felt so taken care of. I knew I was going to be OK.”
Rachel’s preoperative care team kept her calm and informed.
“It felt like everyone was a well-oiled machine,” she said. “There was no stone unturned, and everything was planned and ready to go.”
Following the surgery, Rachel shared a photo from her cafe’s Twitter account with the following caption:
Hello from your local café owner here! Happy to announce that the breast tumor surgery went great! Thank you to our AMAZING staff, our INCREDIBLE customers, the VERY KIND staff at Methodist Hospital @MeaningOfCare ! And thank you to my dear husband taking care of me post-op 💜 pic.twitter.com/oka4nD8BpO— Edge of the Universe (@EdgeUniverseBFF) November 14, 2021
Appreciation for Care
Although parts of Rachel’s recovery have been painful, she recently received a welcomed update from her care team in early December.
“We finally got the all clear last week, which just made me feel like I could walk on air,” she said of her clean bill of health.
This wasn’t her first experience with Methodist, but she says this one helped her grow an even deeper appreciation for the health system.
“Any way that Methodist could go above and beyond, they did,” she said. “You could just tell that it was so natural.”