YORK—Cancer doesn’t discriminate – including what profession a person is in.
Joanie Manning -- Director of Cardiac Rehab Service at York General Hospital – went from being a nurse to being a patient.
“I’ve been on the other side of the fence now, and I don’t want to be there again,” she said.
A mammogram in October 2012 came back normal, so Manning didn’t give the lump she found during a June 2013 self-exam much thought. “I didn’t really think it could be a tumor already – that would be awfully fast,” she said.
Her annual mammogram came around a few months later. The lump showed up during her mammogram, and within an hour Manning had a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy on a breast tumor.
“It moved very quickly, and I was able to act on things very quickly,” she said.
The rapid process, facilitated by her friends and colleagues at York General Hospital, gave Manning a nagging feeling. “I knew in the back of my mind it was probably going to be cancer,” she said.
As soon as she learned the results of her biopsy, Manning knew what she wanted to do. “That’s when the medical professional part came in,” she said. Right away she knew she wanted to see an oncologist before moving on to surgery.
Her oncologist diagnosed her with Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) – the most common type of breast cancer. According to BreastCancer.org: “Invasive means that the cancer has ‘invaded’ or spread to the surrounding breast tissues. Ductal means that the cancer began in the milk ducts…. Carcinoma refers to any cancer that begins in the skin or other tissues that cover internal organs — such as breast tissue. All together, ‘invasive ductal carcinoma’ refers to cancer that has broken through the wall of the milk duct and begun to invade the tissues of the breast. Over time, invasive ductal carcinoma can spread to the lymph nodes and possibly to other areas of the body.”
“There are five different types of breast cancer, and they’re all treated differently,” Manning said. “Yes, I’m a nurse, but I didn’t know there are all these types of breast cancer. I just thought breast cancer was breast cancer.”
Manning and her oncologist decided to do chemotherapy treatments before surgery. Manning immediately responded to the cocktail of drugs. “After one treatment, the tumor shrunk,” she said.
Still, the year of fighting cancer was rough. Manning vividly remembers when her thick, curly hair started to fall out.
There was pain and tears. But, in the end, Manning prevailed – and learned life lessons in the process.
Manning said the experience changed her outlook. “I feel like as a medical professional I’m a much better nurse,” she said. “There are some really good nurses out there, and then some I learned a lot what not to do. I wouldn’t say they were bad nurses, but I’m not going to do what they did.”
“Just an explanation of everything that you’re doing. I feel like I did that before, but I do a much better job of it now.”
Little things make a big difference, she said. “I don’t think I ever asked what hand you wanted your IV in. I do now.”
Manning said she now knows even the small gestures can be powerful.
“Give the patient control, because we have lost it all.”