Cynthia Post Mitchell

Breast Cancer Patient Stories

Cynthia Mitchell

In January 2006, Cynthia Mitchell was surrounded by cancer. She worked in marketing and public relations at The Cancer Center of the Wyoming Valley, was on the American Cancer Society Board of Directors, and had accepted a position to chair the regional Pink Ribbon Ball of Hope for Breast Cancer. Additionally, a good friend was struggling with metastatic breast cancer and her mother had just recovered from her second bout with breast cancer.

February rolled around and Cynthia's committee was in the full swing of preparation for the Pink Ribbon Ball. When she went for her yearly mammogram, the radiologist informed her that she had to return for other tests. "I was a little jolted," Cynthia recalls. Ultimately, further testing led to a diagnosis of breast cancer.

"I was shaken to my core!" Cynthia says. "My colleagues on the Pink Ribbon Ball Committee suggested I resign as chairperson; everything in my life was converging in on me. Although excellent cancer care was available locally and I was an integral member of the medical community, I needed a different organization to get me through this." She was referred to Fox Chase Cancer Center through her employer and friend, Robert Rostock, MD.

"I immediately knew Fox Chase was where I wanted to be treated."

"During my first appointment I immediately knew that Fox Chase was where I wanted to be treated. I especially liked the fact that I could have my surgery and reconstruction surgery on the same day," Cynthia says. Because her grandmother and mother both had breast cancer, she wanted to be aggressive in her approach to treatment, and decided to undergo a bilateral mastectomy at Fox Chase.

The following appointment scheduled that day was with Neal Topham, MD, FACS, chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Fox Chase. After discussing all the options, Cynthia and Dr. Topham decided jointly on reconstructive surgery with expanders, which prepare the mammary cavities for breast implants.

Cynthia Mitchell

Cynthia with Carrie Flower, the main focus of her series of children's books.

"Dr. Topham made me feel special and I was confident that my life was in the right hands. He is truly the best."

Following surgery, Cynthia underwent a course of chemotherapy to ensure the cancerous cells were eliminated and to reduce her risk of recurrence. Because she was a working mom with 3 children, Cynthia decided to have this treatment at a hospital closer to home.

Throughout the entire journey, Cynthia felt the exceptional support of her friends and family. "I decided to remain chair of the ball and the committee members were wonderful," she recalls. "They drove me to appointments, made dinners, and listened to me. The experience sharpened my acute awareness of how important it is to be a friend and have friends."

Cynthia says her cancer journey opened her eyes to other things, too, like how different people deal with illness. "I found that some friends were too fearful of the disease. My goal was to open the lines of communication between people struggling with their perception of illness." Cynthia authored 3 children's books and created a doll designed to encourage people to take care of themselves, be less judgmental of others and be a friend to people facing illness.