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Janet and Rick Stanfield on going through breast cancer together

Published on | Eric Brown

Husband and wife share a breast cancer journey together

During their 32 years of marriage Rick and Janet Stanfield have plenty of life adventures to share, but never did they think breast cancer would be one of them. They both were diagnosed within a few months of each other.

In December 2018, Janet learned she had DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), considered the earliest form of breast cancer. At age 64, she wasn’t ready for any aggressive treatments and really didn’t need them. Working alongside her surgeon, Linsey Gold, DO, of Comprehensive Breast Care, who thoroughly presented all of the options to Janet, she chose a surveillance program for high-risk patients. That’s how the second cancer was found. Six months after her initial diagnosis, a mammogram revealed she had triple negative breast cancer, which would require more aggressive treatment including a bilateral mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

While she was undergoing treatment, her husband Rick learned he had Stage 3 breast cancer. He had a spot under his left arm pit; he thought it was a skin lesion, so he initially didn’t worry. But when it didn’t heal, he went to see a dermatologist. A biopsy confirmed cancer. Only 1 percent of men can get breast cancer, and Rick was one of those small percentages.

Rick already had a surgeon in place; Dr. Gold had taken such good care of Janet that he didn’t need to shop around for another surgeon. While he was completing surgery, Janet was starting her third round of chemotherapy. When her chemotherapy was finished, she switched roles with Rick and became his caregiver.

It wasn’t easy, she admits, but research shows that if cancer patients stay physically active, they can recover faster and that is exactly what happened for Janet.

The couple previously had discussed genetic testing because several members of Janet’s family had cancer, but since they all were on her father’s side of the family, she really wasn’t concerned so she passed on getting tested. Men can carry the cancer gene and pass it along to family members, including females – a fact many people overlook. Rick chose genetic testing, but it revealed no abnormalities.

It’s been close to one year since Janet completed her treatments. She walks every day, goes to the gym two to three times a week, and says she feels pretty good most of the time. Rick just completed his therapy and is slowly recovering. Through the support of each other, and Dr. Gold, the couple remained amazingly positive through both cancer journeys.

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