Published on April 03, 2019

patient with medical staff

Finding Strength - and Family - at the Shady Grove Breast Center

Single mom Benedicte Goudiaby, 43, of Gaithersburg, loves working out and used to visit the gym every day. But that all changed in July of 2018 when she had an appointment with her primary care physician.

“At my visit, my doctor asked me if I had begun having my annual mammogram screenings. When I told her I hadn’t, she recommended I go.” According to the American College of Radiology, the recommended age for women to begin their yearly screenings is 40.

The results from Benedicte’s mammogram came back showing some abnormal tissues in both of her breasts. She was referred for another mammogram and decided to have it done at the Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Breast Center.

After her second abnormal mammogram, Sonya Kella, MD, director of Breast Imaging and radiologist at the Shady Grove Breast Center, performed a biopsy.

“A breast biopsy involves the insertion of a small needle into the breast and removing a small sample of the tissue or mass in question,” says Dr. Kella. “That tissue is then analyzed by a pathologist to determine whether or not it is cancerous.”

It was at the Shady Grove Breast Center that Benedicte received her diagnosis: stage 1B breast cancer in her right breast, and a high-risk lesion in her left breast.

“When I first heard the news, I thought I was going to die,” Benedicte says. But her experience quickly went from devastating to hopeful, thanks to the staff at the Breast Center.

“Before I left that same day, I had a plan,” Benedicte says. “I felt much more in control than when I first got the diagnosis.”

As soon as Benedicte received the results of her biopsy, she began working closely with Cheri Marinez, Breast Cancer Navigator at the Breast Center.

“The day I received my diagnosis, I cried on Cheri’s shoulder. She took her time, explained everything clearly, and walked me through the next steps,” Benedicte says. “She’s been with me from day one. She knows just how to lift me up.”

As the cancer navigator, Cheri walks through the treatment process with her patients, from diagnosis to remission.

“Cheri calls to check on me after every single appointment. I can call her any time I have a question, and she is always there to answer,” Benedicte says.

After walking through possible treatment options with Cheri, Surupa Sen Gupta, MD, breast surgeon at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, developed a treatment plan for Benedicte. In August 2018, Dr. Sen Gupta performed a double lumpectomy on Benedicte.

Now, Benedicte is on a five-year medication treatment plan to ensure the rest of the cancer is gone. After taking a break from her workouts during surgery and treatment, Benedicte has gotten back to the gym. Every day, she’s feeling a little more like her old self.

Although her situation started as a grim one, Benedicte says she has a positive outlook.

“If you saw me before my surgery, and you see me now, you’d notice a lot of differences,” she says. “I was so scared. But once I woke up from the surgery, I realized I was going to beat this cancer. I feel very confident going forward knowing I have the Breast Center behind me.”

Once Benedicte is done with her own treatment, she wants to spend more of her time advocating for other women facing breast cancer.

“There’s a lot of women going through this, and I want to be there for them,” she says. “I want to tell them, this is just a moment. I don’t want them to hear ‘cancer,’ and think, ‘this is the end.’”

As for her relationship with the Breast Center team, Benedicte says it’s a lifelong one.

“I became friends with these people. We talk about our families, our pets, our daily lives. It’s not a scary environment. You don’t dread coming here. They become your family,” she says.

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