Lisa Pevauteaux is a successful woman. She owns three dance studios, has two beautiful children and is a breast cancer survivor.
In 2000, Lisa had genetic testing and found that she had the BRCA 1 gene, which is linked to hereditary breast cancer.
“I was still pretty young when I found out I had the gene,” Lisa said. “I knew that my chances of getting breast cancer were much higher, but I didn’t think it would happen to me, and if it did, I didn’t think it would be until I was much older.”
Lisa and her husband knew that they wanted children. Her OB/GYN encouraged them to have their family sooner rather than later, and recommended that she be closely screened for the next couple of years and then look at more preventative measures after she was done having children.
In March of 2007, Lisa was pregnant with her second child. She’d had a mammogram only six months prior that came back clean when she went to her obstetrician, Dr. Samantha Patwardhan for her eight week appointment. During that appointment, Dr. Patwardhan discovered a lump in Lisa’s breast.
“It was very small, less than 1 cm,” Lisa said. “It was amazing that my doctor even found it. I believe that appointment saved my life. If she hadn’t checked, who knows what would have happened?”
Lisa says that at first, she fell apart, but then knew she had to take the bull by the horns to save both her and her unborn child. She visited three oncologists, the first who told her that the pregnancy would have to be terminated for the cancer to be taken care of.
“I couldn’t accept that,” said Lisa. “So I went to see someone else for another opinion.”
She saw two more doctors and then chose one who recommended that once Lisa reached her second trimester, she have surgery to remove the lump then begin part of her chemotherapy treatments.
“There are a lot of studies of breast cancer patients that show that babies who were in the womb during chemo are fine after they are born.” she said. “I decided that was the route I wanted to take.”
Lisa underwent a mastectomy with surgeon Dr. Stephanie Miller and then began her chemotherapy treatments. She said she was lucky and didn’t suffer from many side effects.
“I really didn’t notice any side effects from the treatments,” she said. “My doctor told me that exercise was important and so I went and worked out every single day. I did some acupuncture and massage therapy as well. I think taking little preventative maintenance measures like that really helped.”
In October of 2007, Lisa gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Three weeks later, she started her next round of chemotherapy.
Today, Lisa is celebrating five years of being cancer free and enjoying life with her husband and two boys. She says that for someone facing a diagnosis, especially in a situation like hers, it’s important to be proactive and ask questions.
“If I had just accepted what the first doctor said, I wouldn’t have my son today,” Lisa said. “Go out and get that second opinion, research your doctors and ask a lot of questions. Surgically, there were a lot of different things we could do. I chose doctors who were willing to fight for me and fight for my baby.”
The Rose “Surviving Well” calendar is a 12-month calendar highlighting our cancer services, physicians and inspirational stories from our patients. Lisa is our survivor for June.