From the Birth Center and the NICU to the Cancer Center and more, Karla Sewald traveled a path to wellness.
For more than 20 years, Sewald had a small lump in her breast. It wasn’t until after the birth of her now 2-year-old twins that she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I first noticed a lump in my breast at age 18. I had it checked several times and got regular mammograms. I was always told that it wasn’t a concern, but needed to be watched.”
— Karla Sewald
Sewald, now 45, had a challenging pregnancy. Even though she felt fine, she was diagnosed at a routine appointment with preeclampsia, which led to delivery of the twins the same day. Kaylee and Carson were born seven weeks early, and that meant an extra month spent in the neonatal ICU at Lutheran.
After all this excitement, Sewald had another mammogram. Through an ultrasound and then a biopsy, she was diagnosed with a less common form of breast cancer known as triple-negative breast cancer. This type does not respond to hormonal therapy and can be more aggressive.
“I wanted to have all my care at Lutheran, from before the babies were born through the breast cancer treatment,” Sewald says. “They helped in every way and were wonderful throughout, especially Stacey, who scrambled to pull my team together right after the cancer diagnosis.”
Stacey Jensen is the breast nurse navigator who helps patients like Sewald by coordinating medical appointments and providing information and support. That’s just the short description, though.
Navigating the Process
“I couldn't have done it without her,” Sewald says. “I had no clue where to begin. And you panic, and she calms you down, and takes over. When I needed so many tests and scans done, and again, was worried about missing so much work, she got them all scheduled for me. All in one day. When I had to move my radiation treatment for work reasons, Stacey even called over to the other hospital and got me my ‘Stacey’ over there in case I needed her.”
“When I needed so many tests and scans done, and again, was worried about missing so much work, she got them all scheduled for me. All in one day.”
Having completed cancer treatment in December, including chemotherapy, a lumpectomy and radiation therapy, Sewald is now being rechecked every three months, since the chance for reoccurrence for her type of cancer is fairly high. In fact, at her most recent visit, it took both a 3-D mammogram and an ultrasound to determine that a new lump was not a new problem.
Network of Support
Sewald continues to focus on remaining healthy, for which she credits her husband, Clay, who strongly supports better nutrition and complementary remedies, such as wellness shakes and supplements.
"I had the best support anyone could hope for,” she adds. “My family set up a Facebook page to follow my progress and Clay was right by my side the entire time. He stayed with the kids in the NICU and participated in my treatment—he still does!”
Luckily, most women don’t have the opportunity to experience so many different areas of a hospital in such a short period, from the Birth Center and the NICU to the Cancer Center, surgery and Infusion Center.
“We received phenomenal care at every level,” Sewald says. “The doctors were great and anyone who goes through this needs a Stacey in their life!”