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For Genevieve, Choosing the Right Breast Cancer Care Team Made All the Difference


A highly trained, experienced nursing professional, Genevieve knew she chose the right place not only to heal, but to thrive: close to home, peaceful surroundings, and a team of oncology nurses who were also close friends.

Genevieve (Gen) Porrecca, was balancing life as a busy clinical nursing professor, devoted wife, and mother to a young son, when she discovered a lump in the lymph node of her armpit. 

She immediately called her gynecologist, who confirmed a lump in her breast upon closer examination. Shortly after, she had a mammogram and ultrasound and was scheduled for an appointment with Dr. Anna Mazor, Breast Surgeon at Redeemer Health in partnership with MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper. The two had an instant connection, having trained together early in their careers. 

Gen had an ultrasound-guided biopsy that same week and received definitive results just two days later. She quickly met with the breast cancer care team to discuss next steps. This included Dr. Mazor along with the Medical Oncologist, Radiation Oncologist, Plastic Surgeon, Nurse Navigator, Nurse Oncologist, Genetics Counselor, and others at Redeemer Health in partnership with MD Anderson at Cooper.

Clinically trained with both an MSN and RN in Nursing along with certifications as a Progressive Care Knowledge Professional (PCCN-K), Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator (CHSE) and Certified Nurse Educator, Gen is someone who naturally does her homework. So, it was no surprise when she decided to seek a second opinion. 

In the end, Gen chose compassion, comfort, familiarity, and personal connections – knowing that she would receive advanced, multidisciplinary cancer care from an experienced and knowledgeable team with the leading-edge research, best practices, and protocols – all in her own backyard, close to home and close to family.

Gen Knew She Was in Good Hands

Plus, having completed her maternity rotation in nursing school and given birth to her son at Holy Redeemer Hospital, Gen knew she was in good hands. The decision was easy. 

Almost four months (to the day) on her 45th birthday, she completed an intensive 16-week course of targeted chemotherapy infusions, before undergoing a same-day double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery just one month later. 

With the help of her family, a visiting nurse arranged through Redeemer Health Home Care, and others in her support network, Gen recuperated at home for eight weeks post-surgery. But her path to recovery was far from over. Once her incisions had fully healed, she would need to undergo an additional 25 courses of radiation therapy within a 35-day period followed by an additional 44 weeks of immunotherapy. 

Gen recalls the moments lying still during her radiation treatments as the most mentally taxing part of her journey; giving her quiet time and space to reflect.

A little over a year after her last radiation treatment, Gen was informed of a clinical research trial for patients like her, at risk for recurrence of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) positive breast cancer.

A clinical professor by trade and excited about contributing to potentially life-saving research, Gen jumped at the opportunity. Her participation in the study is going well, and she anticipates completing the first portion of the trial by late summer followed by a less frequent regimen of five injections and follow-up visits over the next three years until the trial is completely finished.

Gen’s choice not only guided her to the right place to heal and thrive, but it also gave her an incredible opportunity to play a role in the advancement of cancer care and for this, she is deeply grateful.

Learn more about breast cancer services at Redeemer Health in partnership with MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper.