Gina PetragliaBreast Cancer Survivor Stories
On October 8, 2018, Gina received the news that every woman fears; she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Gina’s diagnosis was Stage 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. It was detected through self advocacy, which is why it’s important to remain persistent. In Gina’s case the mammogram missed her cancer, but the MRI found it.
“I found out via MyChart before my ordering physician, I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach,” said Gina. “I was terrified with a lot of questions.”
Gina’s diagnosis occurred during her daughter’s senior year of high school, and she was determined to recover by May to watch her daughter walk across the stage.
“My parents made sure someone was always at my children’s extracurricular activities when I couldn’t be,” Gina said. “They would send me photos in real time so it didn’t feel like I was missing out on their special events.”
Gina was able to find inspiration and motivation through her family, specifically her husband, parents and children who were crucial in her planning and recovering periods.
Following her surgery, Gina’s husband was a crucial part in her recovery as she needed physical assistance. He made sure to take some time away from work to help Gina after her surgery. Once he returned to work, Gina’s parents were there every day to help her on her healing journey.
Even as a healthcare provider, Gina felt overwhelmed with consultations and doctor’s appointments, and she relied on her family for support.
“The patient experience was a very humbling one,” Gina said. “I now look for more ways to pay it forward. I believe part of my mission in life is to help other women along their journey. I have been honored to meet other women at various stages in their journey, and have offered my patient experience. I am as open with them as they want me to be.”
Gina is also very grateful for coworkers, who she refers to as her ‘work family’.
“My work family at Lee Health, would constantly check in on me,” Gina said. “They donated their own PTO days to me, which helped tremendously being out of work for so many weeks, and facing reconstruction surgery a few months later.”
Gina beat breast cancer on December 11, 2018. However, she is still dealing with the side effects of Tamoxifen. She considers herself a recovering surgical patient
“Breast cancer taught me that it’s ok to take time for you,” Gina said. “I had to let go and realize I am not in control of everything and let my faith guide me.”
At Lee Health, we have exceptional employees who are also incredibly strong breast cancer survivors, and we want to take this opportunity to celebrate each one of them and their inspiring stories for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
If you would like to share your story, please reach out to Alyssa.Young@LeeHealth.org