Shortly after her wedding, Stephanie Wander was diagnosed with breast cancer. Facing the unknown, through the support of her new husband and the oncological experts at Good Samaritan Hospital, the Chester, N.Y. resident was able to fight back against the deadly disease. This is her survivor story, in her words:
I met my current husband, Alex, in 2004, when we both worked at a luxury-car dealership. I was in the business office, and he was the parts manager. Alex likes to tell people: “It was love at first sight. I never stopped thinking about her.” We went through a lot to be together.
In 2012, we moved into a 275-year-old farmhouse in Chester and got married there on our front porch in October 2013, blending our two families into one with our four children.
The summer before our wedding, I noticed the shape of my breast was abnormal but didn’t mention it during my regular annual checkup. It became slightly worse, but I had to be ready for the wedding, finish up year-end work reports and take a business trip to Germany before I went to a March 2014 doctor’s appointment.
When my doctor advised me to see a breast specialist, I turned to Dr. Karen Karsif, the Medical Director at the Center for Breast Health at Good Samaritan Hospital. I chose her without hesitation because she had treated my mom for a different type of cancer. I knew if something was wrong, she was the doctor I wanted to see.
After my biopsy in early April, Dr. Karsif told me I had invasive lobular carcinoma which spread to my lymph nodes. I knew something was wrong — my breast was swollen; my nipple had retracted; and my nodes were large — but it’s still unreal being told you have cancer. I was very quiet and felt numb. After a few minutes, I remember saying, “Okay, what do we have to do to get rid of this?”
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Good Samaritan Hospital and St. Anthony Community Hospital are members of the WMCHealth Network.