Putting the pieces together: How collaborative breast cancer treatment helped a patient

Regina Brewer, a long-time team member at HonorHealth, isn’t new to the breast cancer world. She has had close family members affected by the disease and has participated in breast cancer walks for more than ten years. Even still, when she went in for her mammogram in April 2021, she didn’t think much of the discharge she’d been experiencing.

During the next few weeks, when something looked a bit off, she went in for a diagnostic mammogram and breast ultrasound and was then referred to Noemi Sigalove, MD, a breast surgeon at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Care Network Comprehensive Breast Center of Arizona – Scottsdale. Dr. Sigalove’s office was able to get her in quickly, and she was scheduled for a breast biopsy in early May 2021.

At this point, the hope was that Regina had what’s called a benign papilloma. The biopsy, however, resulted in Regina’s breast cancer diagnosis – ductal carcinoma in situ, stage zero, hormone positive. It was an early diagnosis but still required prompt attention.

What came next was a flurry of appointments with Regina’s care team to figure out her treatment options. They developed a plan that would work best for her based on her unique cancer and various lifestyle circumstances. For Regina, there was a lot to consider. She had had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in her 20s, so external radiation wasn’t a good option for her. She also wanted to pursue breast conservation options as much as possible.

“It took nuance in planning to really get the outcome that Regina had hoped for, so that she could have minimal negative impact in her life, feel comfortable and confident that she is well taken care of,” said Dr. Sigalove.

Her treatment ended up including a lumpectomy that Dr. Sigalove performed. Steven Sckolnik, MD, a radiation oncologist and independent member of the HonorHealth medical staff, joined her care team with targeted brachytherapy twice a day for five days. She also continues endocrine therapy to minimize her risk for future cancers and will be monitored closely moving forward for recurrence. She was able to avoid a mastectomy and there was no need for chemotherapy, for which she is grateful.

“I always say it is very important to do the right thing and not necessarily the fast thing,” said Dr. Sigalove. She emphasized that although it can be hard, one needs to allow time to gather all the information required, including results from genetic testing, biopsies, MRI or other tests, and for the case to go to tumor board where all these results can be reviewed, and the physicians on the care team can develop the most appropriate treatment plan.

“Taking all variables into consideration, there are millions of permutations of breast cancer and each one is unique to an individual,” said Dr. Sigalove. “We have to figure out what each person’s story is, put pieces of the puzzle together and then come up with a customized treatment plan.”

“So often in life, someone says they will take care of something for you, and it just doesn’t happen,” said Regina. “But my care team actually spoke to each other. I was so amazed. Knowing that all of my doctors were speaking to each other made me feel very confident in their care for me, like a family.”

Regina went on to share how, not only did her medical care team take the best care of her possible, but her own family and friends were instrumental in her recovery, as were her teammates at HonorHealth. “All of this made my treatment so much easier because I did not have to worry about anything and could focus on my health,” said Regina.

“You do feel alone sometimes, and it can feel very scary and lonely,” said Regina. “More than anything, I want women going through breast cancer to know that they are not alone.”

“I want women to know that it is okay to feel all of the things – loss of control, fear, stress – but faith is bigger than fear,” she said. “There is a whole network of pink sisters out there supporting you and loving you through your breast cancer journey.”

This year, when Regina joined the HonorHealth Ambassador Team for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, her journey was even more personal. She walked for her aunt Judith and her cousin Christina, but also for herself. She walked supporting all her pink sisters around the world. She walked with gratefulness for those who stood by her through her own journey.

Schedule an exam or find out more

For information about breast health or to schedule your annual breast exam, visit the HonorHealth Breast Health and Research Center, or call 623-580-5800.

Locations and information

About the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Care Network Comprehensive Breast Center of Arizona

HonorHealth Virginia G. Piper Cancer Care Network is collaborating with the Comprehensive Breast Center of Arizona to deliver world-class care, improved coordination of cutting-edge services, and personalized support for our community. In collaboration, we are able to deliver world-class care, coordinated cutting edge services, and personalized support for our patients in treating benign breast disease as well as in breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.