Four weeks prior to learning she had breast cancer in 2011, Dori McInnis ran her first half-marathon. One month and a frightening diagnosis later, Dori’s next race became the fight against her cancer. Today, a cancer-free Dori is feeling victorious as she nears the finish line of her cancer saga.
With a family history of breast cancer, Dori was diligent about getting regular breast exams and mammograms. When imaging found two tumors, she felt disbelief. Dori thought of her mother, who died in 1989 after her own breast cancer diagnosis. But her optimism increased after her initial work-up at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, the treatment arm of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
"It became evident that times have changed," she said. "My chances were much better than 20 years ago."
Dori, an executive assistant at a medical clinic, had surgery and radiation to treat her cancer.
"I am so grateful for the expertise of the medical team and have much gratitude for their care," she said. "I feel fortunate to be in the mecca of cancer research, living in the Seattle area."
Near the end of her radiation treatments, she experienced swelling, indicating lymphedema on her right side. "I was shown light massage techniques and was fitted with a compression sleeve and glove," she said. By wearing the garments consistently, she managed to keep the symptoms at bay. She is currently being monitored by physical therapists for swelling on the side of her upper torso.
In addition to swelling, Dori was laid low by fatigue and weakness following her cancer care. "My dog and I became close buds as we shared the couch each day," she said.
She sought support through the Survivorship Clinic. Dori found the staff to be patient listeners and helpful problem-solvers. A summary of Dori’s cancer treatment and a long-term care plan were created to help her primary care provider navigate her future health needs. To deal with her sleeplessness, she was referred to stress management and relaxation training classes. She also consulted with an SCCA nutritionist, who identified a lack of protein in her diet and helped her get past her radiation fatigue by adding beans, nuts and quinoa to her meals. Dori’s ongoing physical therapy is improving her strength, energy and range of motion. She recently returned to work.
"Going to the Survivorship Clinic was a positive experience, and I would highly recommend it to other cancer patients," Dori said. "Through their recommendations for other services, I am getting stronger physically and emotionally. My recovery is a work in process but I am feeling hopeful."