October 29, 2018
Lauren Miller of Benton, Ark., was not a candidate for breast cancer. She was young. She had no family history. Yet, there she was, the month after her 29th birthday, face to face with a stage three invasive carcinoma her2 positive diagnosis.
When she found the lump, she was sitting in a hospital waiting room anticipating the birth of a friend’s baby. “I was literally just sitting there, and I lost my breath,” she recalls. “I gasped and grabbed my chest. That’s when I felt the lump.”
After a mammogram and ultrasound, her OB/GYN referred her to a local surgical oncologist, who then referred her to Dr. Rhonda Gentry at CARTI Cancer Center in Little Rock for medical oncology.
Scans showed it was also in a lymph node and the cancer was spreading, so chemotherapy was the first step to localize it before they could surgically remove it.
She had six very aggressive treatments at CARTI over the course of five months and then continued with 12 more rounds of chemo. In February 2018, she had a bilateral mastectomy and began the breast reconstruction process. She is now in remission from breast cancer and on a checkup basis after ringing the bell alongside her husband and her team of nurses in September.
Being a young mom to two active sons, ages 3 and 6, was one of the most difficult parts of the process. “When I was taking the chemo, I tried to go to most of their school and sporting events, but I was really weak, and it was tough,” she admits. “Sometimes I couldn’t go. That was one of the hardest things.”
But CARTI made other parts of the journey much easier. Lauren worked closely with Dr. Rhonda Gentry and her team of nurses including Cathy, who she formed a close relationship with. “You can’t ever thank those nurses enough for their understanding, patience and kindness.” Lauren also appreciated the financial team for figuring out her insurance behind the scenes, making it one less thing she had to worry about.
“CARTI is a fantastic organization,” she says. “They are always asking what they can do to make you comfortable. Patients get alerts and emails about the resources available, which is helpful.”
She says it was a very personal experience. “They called you by name, recognized you, knew everything that was going on. They walked the journey with you.”
Lauren is so grateful for the support of her family, church, coworkers and community for their endless support and encouragement. “Keep the faith. It’s going to be okay. We go through everything for a reason and there is a purpose for each of us. Keep the faith.”