Sandi Conrad’s cancer journey started in October of 2012 when she discovered, through a self exam, a lump on her breast. “When you hear those words ‘You have cancer’, it’s so devastating and you go through a journey that changes your life forever,” explains Sandi.
Sandi saw several doctors before she found Joseph Majewski, MD, a surgeon at Aurora Memorial Hospital of Burlington. She initially had a lumpectomy, but when pathology reports revealed a more serious diagnosis, Sandi had a full mastectomy to improve her chances of the cancer not returning.
“It was a series of operations as opposed to just a single operation,” explains Dr. Majewski. “We had to change course a number of times in her treatment, and that was hard.”
And that’s why Sandi is grateful to have found Dr. Majewski. She says she trusted him immediately and he made her feel at ease, “Something he told me I’ll never forget was, you’re you. It’s your case and don’t think what someone else did was the right thing, you’re unique. That was really good advice.”
After her surgeries in 2012, Sandi chose Antony Ruggeri, MD, as her oncologist; he is based out of Aurora Lakeland Medical Center in Elkhorn. Dr. Ruggeri helped Sandi come up with a treatment plan, which did not involve chemotherapy but does involve medication that she must take for five years.
“When I walked into Dr. Ruggeri’s office, I was feeling worried and confused. But he spent a lot of time going over all of the test results and the research. It was a very emotional time for me, but he really made a difference in my outlook,” Sandi says.
Sandi now sees Dr. Ruggeri regularly for checkups, and is doing well in her recovery. She will also still see Dr. Majewski for follow-up tests. Both physicians and hospitals have outstanding reputations for cancer care, but the possibility of getting all of her cancer treatment in one place makes Sandi even more excited about her future.
“To have these marvelous doctors in our area is so wonderful. And I know all of my doctors talk to each other, but to be in the same building will save so much time. Won’t it be wonderful when we’re all together?” Sandi says.
People like Sandi are the reason Aurora Memorial Hospital of Burlington is leading an effort to build a brand new state-of-the-art cancer center, to be located in western Racine and Walworth Counties. A central location will provide patients improved access to physicians, specialists and surgeons. It will also bring the latest in cancer care technology to patients in the Burlington area.
“This new cancer center will enable patients to have a comfortable area for treatment that’s really close to home,” explains Dr. Majewski. “That facilitates recovery and it’s good for the patient. We’re really blessed that Aurora would think enough of the care that’s being delivered here now to build this facility here. It’s a really good deal.”
Dr. Ruggeri says combining resources will inevitably lead to a more collaborative approach, which he believes is the real future of cancer care. “The way of cancer care moving forward, is entirely to get things in one place. That way there’s a great basket of knowledge in one place. It’s the way of the future,” he says.
You can help bring the future of cancer care to the Burlington area by attending the 12th Annual Crystal Ball on Saturday, February 7. This celebration will feature a live and silent auction as well as gourmet dining, a Bling Raffle and dancing. Proceeds from the evening will go directly to this cancer center campaign, and help support patients like Sandi. To make a gift or purchase a ticket, go to give.aurora.org/crystalball.