When Lisa Mullins found out she had breast cancer, she was met with expected emotions of fear and disbelief. With no previous genetic markers of the disease, she didn’t see the news coming. However, thanks to the Women’s Medical Center and Cancer Center teams at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center, Lisa was able to navigate her cancer journey with comfort and premier care. Even through the dark moments, Lisa never doubted that she had an experienced team on her side that was ready to answer any questions and put her at ease. We appreciate Lisa sharing her story, and we hope her words stand as a beacon of hope to other women and their families who have been touched by the disease.
The medical field has never been foreign territory for Lisa Mullins. Spending most of her career working as a dietitian and later as a diabetes case manager, she knows the ins and outs of patient care. It wasn’t until she was on the receiving end, however, that her perspective began to change.
“It’s so weird to say ‘I have breast cancer’ for the first time,” Lisa says, thinking back on times she let coworkers know she was receiving treatment over lunch. “Just to know you’ve been touched by (cancer), it’s a strange feeling.”
Lisa was 61 years old when she got her diagnosis. She and her sister went to get their regular mammograms at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center. Both mammograms came back abnormal. While her sister’s results showed a more advanced cancer, physicians still kept a close eye on Lisa to make sure she didn’t progress in the same direction. “She was very brave and did very well,” Lisa says of watching her sister undergo radiation and chemotherapy.
Sometime later, Lisa went in for another mammogram. This time, however, the physician called and asked to speak about her results in person. It was in that moment, Lisa says, that her diagnosis began to sink in. “It was cancer,” she says.
Instead of a partial mastectomy, Lisa and her care team decided to do a lumpectomy followed by radiation treatments. Throughout the entire process, Lisa says, she was informed of her options and always felt comforted by the Cancer Center staff and staff of Brookwood’s Women’s Center — a comprehensive extension of Brookwood Baptist that cares for women in all phases of life.
“My time in the surgery was so well-organized. I walked in, and the people in the pre-operating room were so great,” Lisa says. “A nurse even called me beforehand and told me how to prepare for it. She described everything in great detail. Everyone was just so kind and caring — and it just went like clockwork. When you’re comfortable with the people who are taking care of you, that’s huge. I had a trust there. And I think that played into me being able to handle things.”
Janet Dees, breast nurse navigator for the Cancer Center at Brookwood Baptist, says the Medical Center’s goal is to provide excellent care for each patient — physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. By establishing this premier level of care, she says patients feel as if they’re in a more familiar place. “We take a multidisciplinary approach to caring for our patients, collaborating with primary care physicians, medical oncologists and other specialists to help ensure each patient receives the best possible care,” she explains.
Judging by Lisa’s experience, the teams at Brookwood Baptist are succeeding in that core mission. Thanks to her care teams — and her unrelenting faith — Lisa says she was able to stay positive and not let cancer completely consume her day-to-day life. “They treated me like they would if I were family,” she adds.
After walking through cancer, Lisa says her days feel a little different now. And even though the surgery and treatment weren’t easy, she says her life is a little different — maybe even a little sweeter — after battling cancer.
“I’m getting closer to retirement age, and I love what I do and I don’t want to leave, but at the same time, you want to live every day like it was your last,” she says. “You want to be kind, and you want to be as close to your family as possible — because family is everything. I want my grandchildren to know me and be able to spend time with me. I think that’s so much more important than the things out there that we fight about. We need to be grateful.”
To learn more about the services offered at the Women’s Medical Center at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center, click HERE.