Linda Angello

Breast Cancer Patient Stories

Linda Angello

Linda Angello loves people and she loves to laugh. Humor and interaction with others were key components of her successful treatment for breast cancer. Her journey, which began in 2004, has enriched her life beyond measure. In turn, she has passionately dedicated herself to helping others facing the same diagnosis.

In October of 2004, Linda had her annual routine mammogram and was asked to return for a "re-test." The request did not surprise her, as this had happened before and each time it had been nothing - just a precaution. This time, however, was different because in addition to the mammogram, they scheduled Linda for an ultrasound.

After the ultrasound, the radiologist explained that Linda needed a biopsy of the suspicious area (about 6mm). "By the time I got home, my gynecologist had already left me a message, so I knew it was more serious this time," recalled Linda. The biopsy revealed an early stage breast cancer, and so her journey began.

Linda was comforted by the fact that Dr. Sigurdson provided the most sophisticated treatment.

The doctors at her regional hospital offered her several treatment options. Although Linda was inclined to move forward with a lumpectomy, her daughter encouraged her to go to Fox Chase Cancer Center for a second opinion. After meeting with surgical oncologist Dr. Elin Sigurdson to discuss the best course of action, there was no doubt in her mind that she was going to receive the most sophisticated treatment available from Dr. Sigurdson and Fox Chase.

"The truth is, I really didn't have time for all of this," recalled Linda. "I was the primary caregiver to my 94 year old mother, I had 2 children, a job, a husband, and a home to take care of. I remember telling Dr. Sigurdson that my biggest concern about the treatment of my cancer was not about me, but about how I was going to take care of my mother. I had always put my needs on the back burner, so this was a real wake-up call."

"At Fox Chase I felt a connection and genuine concern for my well being."

"Not only did I feel like I was in the best hands professionally, I also felt comforted by the personal touch provided by everyone at Fox Chase. They truly encouraged me and reminded me how important it was to take care of myself. From the nurse practitioners, to the social workers, to the pre-admissions gal and Dr. Sigurdson's secretary, I felt a connection and genuine concern for my wellbeing."

In November of 2004, Dr. Sigurdson performed Linda's first lumpectomy, which did not produce clean margins (surrounding area of tissue that is clear of cancer cells after surgery). A second surgery was performed, and again, the results showed the margins were still not cancer-free. Linda was then diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS), considered a Stage 0 pre-cancer. Since the DCIS did not show up on any tests, other than the pathology results of the breast tissue removed, Linda was not comfortable ending her treatment there. After her doctors explained all of her options, Linda scheduled a double mastectomy in January of 2005.

Linda Angello

On January 21, 2005, two days before her 50th birthday, Linda underwent a double mastectomy - surgical removal of both breasts. Linda opted for reconstructive surgery at the same time as the mastectomy. Her plastic surgeon inserted a temporary expander that was used to slowly allow saline implants to be expanded over the course of the next several months. The surgery was performed on a Thursday, and she went home two days later. Within two weeks, Linda was back to an abbreviated work schedule and began her support efforts for others who were facing breast cancer. "I was so fortunate to have a dear breast cancer survivor friend support me through my experience, and I wanted to be able to do the same for others," said Linda.

"Cancer made my whole outlook on life change for the better."

"I tell people all the time that breast cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me - except of course for the cancer part," laughed Linda. "I never would have met all of the wonderful people who changed my life. Doctors, medical professionals, members of non-profit organizations, other marvelous survivors - none of these people would have entered my life without my cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Cancer made my whole outlook on life change for the better."

"Dr. Goldstein is committed to identifying the best and most appropriate treatment plan for me."

After the surgery, Linda sought out other medical oncologists for different treatment plans. Although each doctor recommended the same treatment plan, Linda chose to stay at Fox Chase with her medical oncologist, Dr. Lori Goldstein, to continue her treatment. In 2005, Linda began taking a daily dose of Tamoxifen (an adjunct hormone therapy), and has been working with Dr. Goldstein to monitor hormone levels and continue to determine appropriate forms of on-going treatment options. In 2010, Linda and Dr. Goldstein determined that she no longer needed follow-up treatment and has not needed to take Tamoxifen since then. "Dr. Goldstein and I are in this thing for the long haul," said Linda. "I will be working with her for the rest of my life. I feel comfortable with her and I believe Dr. Goldstein is committed to identifying the best and most appropriate treatment plan for me."

During her long journey Linda has committed herself to helping others. "Women being treated for breast cancer may have a great support system with their family and friends, but it is nothing compared to talking to someone who has personally experienced a cancer diagnosis," said Linda. She has been active for many years in several breast cancer organizations including Living Beyond Breast Cancer and the American Cancer Society—both of whom offer support to women going through their cancer journeys.

When she realized the need for a breast cancer support group at her local church, Linda started one. "Even after active treatment ends, women need to adjust to a new lifestyle – being a cancer survivor," emphasized Linda. Perhaps the greatest testament to Linda's tireless efforts was an honor she received in 2010 for her work with Living Beyond Breast Cancer at the Susan G. Komen Celebrate Life luncheon.

"Every day is a gift - make it special."

"Life is too short. Every day is a gift - make it special," concludes Linda. "My new mantra is 'If it feels good, and it doesn't hurt anyone I'm going to do it,' and I hope my experience and my words of encouragement will inspire other women battling breast cancer to feel the same way."