Creating Hope - Jacqueline's Story

Oct 27, 2020

Jacqueline-Gurtowski-300-x-200After my yearly mammogram I was told there was something abnormal on my X-ray. They told me there was a less than one percent chance of it becoming anything. I decided to make an appointment with a surgeon for a biopsy procedure anyways. The biopsy showed I had stage 1 breast cancer.

It was diagnosed as triple-negative breast cancer. This type of rare breast cancer lacks the types of receptors commonly found in tumor cells. Thank God I had the biopsy done because triple-negative breast cancer can grow aggressively outside of the actual breast. Courtney, my older daughter, was pregnant at the time. I cried at the thought that I may not see my granddaughter being born. My breast surgeon, Dr. Elena Rehl, comforted me and guaranteed that I’d see my granddaughter born.

My daughter Saige recommended Dr. Rehl after getting to know her while living in Savannah, GA. Dr. Rehl was working as a breast surgeon in Savannah prior to returning to Florida and Saige was doing her surgical rotation to become a physician assistant (PA) and got to know Dr. Rehl well during that time. When my daughter found out about my breast cancer diagnosis, she thought Dr. Rehl would be the ideal choice for my care. She thought Dr. Rehl would be the perfect fit needed for my treatment. Dr. Rehl’s plan for my breast cancer care focused first on chemotherapy followed by surgery and then radiation. I had an outpatient lumpectomy procedure at Good Samaritan Medical Center in June during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic. I had the lumpectomy to remove a portion of breast tissue where the malignant tumor was located.

Dr. Rehl did such a great job with my surgery and the recovery was fine. In fact, the lumpectomy and recovery went a lot better than I thought it would go. The surgical scar is a straight line and unbelievably, barely noticeable today. After completing my radiation, I found out some amazing news. I’m cancer free! Also, I saw my granddaughter Lennon born and just found out my son Jack’s wife is pregnant. It was a miracle and a light at end of the tunnel. I found my faith, I thought I knew it before (my faith) but now I know I’ve got it.

Throughout this entire process, Dr. Rehl and her staff have been wonderful. Furthermore, Dr. Rehl’s staff always gets back to me and answers my questions. Dr. Rehl’s practice coordinator Jacinta Nappi can best be described as an angel. She politely always got back to me right away with any questions I needed answered. Dr. Rehl’s entire staff responds quickly no matter what the question is, I can’t thank Dr. Rehl and her staff enough.  

All of the safety protocols were in place at Dr. Rehl’s office to keep my vulnerable immune system safe from the COVID-19 virus. Every time I’ve been there, I was the only person in the waiting room. Everyone was wearing masks in the office and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) including gloves and gowns in the exam room. Dr. Rehl also took the time to reassure me that where I was having my procedure was separate from any of the COVID-19 patients in the hospital. Knock on wood, I never got sick.  

One thing that stuck out to me about Dr. Rehl was when I was getting going into surgery and out of recovery, every nurse and person helping with my care would say I’m glad you got Dr. Rehl, she’s a great doctor. Looking back she was the best choice I could have made for my care.

I had surgery performed by Dr. Rehl for treatment of my breast cancer on June 9. My mother passed away on June 14, and Dr. Rehl called me on June 15, to let me know she got the results back from my lumpectomy and to tell me I was cancer free. Dr. Rehl especially knew I needed good news since my Mom passed away the previous day. It turned out to be the best news ever because I know my Mom played an important part with my cure of being cancer free. I still went on with radiation after being cancer free just as a precaution to make sure no cancer cells went rogue in or outside of my breast.

To have a successful treatment and recovery from breast cancer, you need not only an exemplary care team but also support outside of the clinical setting. Women should always keep up-to-date on their mammograms. My case is a prime example of something showing up on an X-ray as really small in nature and having the potential to turn into something more serious.

My husband Jack is number one in my support system. Since I self-isolated during the COVID-19 Pandemic, he did all the grocery shopping, banking and was there for me emotionally. He’s been my rock. Without him I wouldn’t have been able to make it. Whether I needed to be driven to my appointments, was worried about what to say to the kids or needed him after my surgery, he was there for me. I have this great support system and Dr. Rehl’s a part of that, she went above and beyond to make sure I received the best breast cancer care. For her to make a promise that I’d see my granddaughter and be cancer free, gave me hope when I needed it most. 
Exception occured while executing the controller. Check error logs for details.