Breast cancer survivor Priscilla Nelson Mitchell
In late 2010, I went in for a routine mammogram. It had been maybe a year and a half since I’d had one, and I had a digital mammogram at the Fairview Clinic near my home in Rush City. They called me back and said, “We want you to come to the medical center in Wyoming to have another mammogram done, because we want to take a closer look at something.”
After the second mammogram, the radiologist came in and said he had some concerns about the spot he saw, and he wanted to schedule a biopsy. That was pretty scary, but the people were so nice. They just really held my hand. The radiologist was great that did the biopsy.
My primary care doctor called me a few days later and told me that it was a stage zero breast cancer and that I had ductile carcinoma in situ, meaning that it hadn’t spread. It was still in my mammary gland. She recommended surgery.
I had the first of two surgeries in early January 2011. I loved my nurses and the surgeon.
After my surgeries, I had 20 radiation treatments at the University of Minnesota Physicians Radiation Therapy Center, Fairview at Wyoming. It’s right down the hall from the cancer clinic attached to Fairview Lakes Medical Center. That worked out well for me, because I could just stop at Wyoming in the morning on my way to my job in St. Paul, have my radiation therapy treatment, and go on to work. I had treatments Monday through Friday for four weeks.
The staff was really great. I’m kind of modest. I kept my own robe, deodorant, etc. in my "cancer bag" in a little locker at the therapy center. I never had chemotherapy so I never felt sick. I got sunburned from the radiation. I got two little tiny tattoos to help them line up the machine. I still have the tattoo. I just wear necklaces to cover it up. It’s kind of my badge of courage.
Even though I was driving 50 miles to work every day, I didn’t get as tired as they say you might from the radiation. I didn’t get tired until the radiation was over in April. At the time I was planning my wedding to Frank Mitchell. We started dating in 2007. He’s very level, and he kept me level through all this.
I always thought people got really sick from cancer. For me, it’s been more of a nuisance, but from a health perspective it definitely changed me. I have a mammogram once a year and I get blood work done and see my oncologist, Dr. Lisa Ge, every six months. I’ll be taking tamoxophin for 10 years.
Cancer Services at Fairview Lakes Medical Center
Lakes Cancer Clinic
Chemo and infusion therapy
Oncology and Hematology
L. Lisa Ge, MD
University of Minnesota Physicians Radiation Therapy Center
Twenty years ago I was doing standup comedy professionally. I did it at comedy clubs in Minnesota as well as in Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada. I have a friend in Rush City who owns the bowling alley. She knew I had done standup and wanted me to do some kind of comedy show as a benefit. After I got breast cancer, we decided to do a comedy show as a benefit for cancer. Pretty soon six to eight friends were helping me. We call the show “Chuckles for Chi Chis.” Since then I’ve done two shows in Rush City. Last December the show featured me and four other comediennes. It included a cocktail hour, dinner and 90-minute comedy show and raised a little over $3,000.
When I see moms, wives and daughters who are really, really sick, I realize that I was one of the lucky ones. Because of how scary cancer is, how nice everybody at the medical center in Wyoming was, and because I was one of the lucky ones, I decided to donate the money to my oncology clinic in Wyoming. This past year we gave the money in the form of gift cards for women undergoing treatment for cancer to be used for gas or groceries. It’s so much fun putting on the comedy event, and it’s something that I feel really proud of.
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