Where Janet finally found healing
Janet Donnelly expected her life to be saved after a routine mammogram found breast cancer. After all, the cancer was found early and her prognosis was excellent. What she didn't expect is that her life would need to be saved a second time after a rare occurrence following a mastectomy.
Prior to her diagnosis, Janet had been planning a move from Alaska to Utah. After talking with her children about her plan for treatment, she decided to make the move earlier than expected and receive treatment in Salt Lake City.
"My first appointment in Utah was nearly immediately after I moved. My doctor was great. She retested me and found that the cancer had migrated to additional breast tissue," Janet says.
The original plan was to have a lumpectomy — a localized surgery that removes the tumor and some surrounding tissue. But with the breast cancer spreading, Janet's doctor recommended a mastectomy that would remove one of her breasts, as well as the removal of nearby lymph nodes under the arm.
"There was no way to be truly sure that a lumpectomy would fully remove my cancer, so I agreed to the mastectomy and the lymph node surgery to be safer," Janet says.
A rare complication
After the surgery, Janet's providers checked on her several hours later and noticed that her skin tissue was turning purple where she had been stitched after the mastectomy. Fast forward a couple weeks, and Janet's skin at the surgical site had become necrotic and was dying. This necessitated removing the dead tissue, which now left a "gaping hole," as Janet describes it.
"They kept trying different things to heal the wound, but nothing was helping. After six weeks they told me, 'We don't know what else to do to help you.'" So they suggested she visit a wound care clinic. That's when Janet found Cache Valley Hospital.
A path to healing
"I was so fortunate to come into their care. I arrived with a happy heart knowing I was going to get somewhere. There was hope now."
Janet said that during her very first visit to Cache Valley's Hospital's Wound Care clinic, the doctor said, "If you do what I tell you, we will get you healed." She was then instructed to eat 60-90 grams of protein per day and drink as much water as she could handle.
Janet was committed. It meant some drastic changes to her diet, but she was all in.
"I tracked everything I ate. I counted every gram of protein," Janet says. In addition to the diet, Janet came to Cache Valley Hospital 3-4 times weekly initially, and then down to twice each week where she would receive medication and have her wound dressed. And it worked. In just a short amount of time, Janet began to heal.
"They told me I was one of their fastest healing patients. The nurses were so excited to see how much I had improved from the previous week."
So why the quick turnaround? Janet didn't realize how much her diet played into her overall healing and recovery.
"My surgeons were great, but they didn't teach me about nutrition. If I had known more beforehand, I could have been boosting my nutrition and may have had a much different outcome after my surgeries."
Janet is sincerely grateful for her caregivers at Cache Valley Hospital for helping her heal. "They were just amazing. I can't recommend them enough. It was the most painless thing I've ever had to do. I just sing their praises."
And to top it off — Janet is cancer free today, and with no scarring.