Dr. Bombach Saved My Life Twice in One Year
Coordinated Care After Breast Cancer Surgery Keeps Active Grandmother Active
November 09, 2018
A Suspicious Mammogram
When the radiologist detected a possible abnormality on Nancy L.’s mammogram, he told her to come back in six months for a follow-up. Shortly before the mammogram Nancy had badly bruised her right breast when she ran into her kitchen counter. The radiologist told her that the abnormality may be scar tissue from that injury.
“I got busy,” says Nancy, an avid golfer who has worked at many varied jobs over the course of her career. “ARC sent reminders but I put it off.” At the time she had a demanding job in the Mathematics Department at the University of Texas at Austin. She also was involved with the care of her two grandsons, Elliott and Brady, who are now 8 and 10.
A year and a half later, she went back for her follow-up mammogram. “That’s when they found the lump,” she says.
ARC’s Professional and Supportive Environment
Nancy immediately called Austin Regional Clinic and made an appointment with Edward J. Bombach, MD, FACS (General Surgery.) For the past 19 years, Nancy has been a patient of ARC’s Joe T. Nguyen, MD (Family Medicine). Based on her positive experiences with Dr. Nguyen, Nancy knew to expect a “smoothly run professional environment.” She was not disappointed.
“Dr. Bombach and his staff were both professional and supportive,” she says. “I think very highly of him and of everyone in his office.”
After Dr. Bombach explained her options, Nancy consulted with her sister Francey by phone and decided to go forward with a lumpectomy.
Breaking the News
Unfortunately, the lumpectomy revealed that the cancer had metastasized to Nancy’s lymph nodes. When she received this news, Nancy was in Dr. Bombach’s office by herself.
“Dr. Bombach told me that I would need a mastectomy followed by radiation and chemotherapy,” she says. “It’s difficult thing to tell a woman who is alone but Dr. Bombach did it perfectly.”
Nancy found Dr. Bombach’s manner comforting. “He was concerned and informative. He talked honestly and didn’t give me false sympathy.”
All the Time in the World
Without guaranteeing anything, Dr. Bombach gave Nancy confidence that the treatment would likely yield positive results.
“He took all the time in the world to talk to me. It was like I was his only patient,” says Nancy. “He looked me in the eye, adult to adult. I walked out feeling like I could get through this. And I did.”
A Successful Surgery and Good News
“I had the surgery three days after the lumpectomy,” Nancy says. One of Nancy’s two sons and his wife live in Austin. Her sister Francey and her husband Prentiss drove from Denton to be with her.
Nancy’s other son considered flying in from San Francisco. “His wife was 40-weeks pregnant,” Nancy says. “I told him he definitely couldn’t leave her.”
The surgery went well. In addition to Nancy’s right breast, Dr. Bombach removed 20 lymph nodes. “He got clear margins everywhere,” Nancy says. That was great news.
Ten days after surgery Nancy received the wonderful news that her granddaughter Florence was born.
Sending Everybody Back to their Lives
“Francey and Prentiss were with me for two days and my son took me to my first chemotherapy appointment. After that, I told everyone to go back to their own lives. I drove myself to every chemo and radiation appointment,” says Nancy, emphasizing that the surgery did not keep her down physically or emotionally.
During her treatments Nancy stayed close to home. “Your white blood cell count goes down to almost zero with chemotherapy,” she says. “So I was careful.” Early each morning she took a one to two mile walk and then spent the rest of the day working on scrapbooks, playing bridge or backgammon online, and cleaning house.
A Healing Rapport
Dr. Bombach told Nancy that post-surgery she must immediately begin exercising her arms so they wouldn’t “freeze up.” “At my first post-surgery visit, he made sure that I showed him this,” she says demonstrating “jumping-jack” arms.
Nancy enjoys her rapport with Dr. Bombach. “It’s clear that he likes me as a person. For example, once I joked that I felt like a Kardashian with my own personal surgeon,” she says. “Later, he called me at home and said, ‘It’s your personal surgeon calling.’”
“I don’t want to be defined by breast cancer,” Nancy says. “And Dr. Bombach would never do that. He is always genuine.”
Double the Gratitude
“When I went to Dr. Bombach for my 9-month check-up, there were two little spots on my neck,” Nancy says. “Dr. Bombach said, ‘Let’s go ahead and take those off.’”
It was a good thing he did. One of the “spots” turned out to be basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer. Nancy went to his office to thank him. “He saved my life twice in one year,” she says.
Seamless Convenient Care
When Nancy saw Dr. Nguyen for her yearly check-up, “he and his nurse knew everything that had happened and expressed concern.” That was due to ARC’s Electronic Medical Records which assure that each patient’s health information stays up to date and is accessible to ARC doctors.
Nancy, who has recently moved to South Austin to be closer to Elliott and Brady, will continue to see Dr. Nguyen and Dr. Bombach despite her long drive.
These days, Nancy makes her ARC appointments and gets her test results using MyChart. “I just started using MyChart on my computer about six months ago,” she says. Although calling ARC by telephone is always efficient, she finds MyChart even more convenient.
Nancy has recovered well and is staying active. She walks one or two miles a day, attends Silver Sneakers stretch and strengthening classes, and weight-trains at the gym. In the summer, she also swims daily. She still feels the effects of “chemo brain” which makes her a bit foggy at times. “But it goes away and I’m looking forward to that,” she says.
Nancy, who is now retired, enjoys her time with Elliott and Brady. She also looks forward to time with 15-month-old Florence who visits Austin twice a year with her parents.