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Self-Exams Save Lives

Health has always been a priority for Daneen Zaleski, age 53, of Lewisburg. “Supporting breast cancer awareness, whether hosting charity events or encouraging screening, was always the right thing to do. Last year it became so much more personal when I was found to have a cancerous lump. The care and support that I received from the providers and the community was incredible. With their help, I was able to face this challenge while maintaining an active family, business, and coaching life.”

During a self-exam in 2019 Daneen thought she felt something out of the ordinary. At her annual women’s wellness visit with OB/GYN of Evangelical, Morgan Curtis, PA-C, explored Daneen’s concern and also felt there was reason enough to explore it further.

As a result, Daneen, who annually made sure she scheduled a mammogram and automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) because of dense breast tissue, returned to the Thyra M. Humphreys Center for Breast Health. They scheduled a handheld ultrasound designed to explore in more detail the area of concern.

The ultrasound identified a small spot that had been there awhile but was slow growing from year to year. The tumor was biopsied and the Center called Daneen to let her know that the result was cancer.

“It’s always a shock to hear the word cancer. Having lost loved ones to cancer, I started to prepare myself,” said Daneen. “I took part in the BRCA gene test and fortunately the results showed I didn’t carry the mutation that could affect my children.”

“Through it all, Dr. John Turner at the Center for Breast Health, was upfront about the results, talked me through what the next steps were, treatment options, and what a breast cancer diagnosis like mine meant for me and my family. He assured me that what we had found was very treatable.”

Daneen underwent a lumpectomy to remove the tumor. A special marker was placed where the cancer was so the area can be clearly seen and evaluated in future screenings. Because of the cancer type and the early detection, Daneen was able to undergo radiation and hormone treatments and not be subjected to chemotherapy as her prescribed cancer care plan.

Throughout her treatment, Daneen, who had a regular fitness routine, continued to work out. There were some limitations in the beginning on things like on the elliptical machine where arm movement could disturb the healing, but she continued to stay committed to fitness.

She even took it a step further. As a high school field hockey coach, she continued her work with the students and was honest with them about what she was going through.

“It was important to me that I was upfront with them about what I was going through and they could ask questions. I was a living example of someone who was experiencing breast cancer and surviving it. For me it was part of the camaraderie of our team to go through things together and it also showed them the importance of taking health seriously.”

Today, cancer-free, Daneen continues her work at Fero Vineyards and Winery — her family business, keeps up her fitness, enjoys coaching field hockey, and focuses on family.

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