Kelley St. Myers has been on a difficult journey that began five years ago after a routine health check. In the spring of 2014, following her annual mammogram check and subsequent testing and evaluations, Kelly was diagnosed with two types of breast cancer on her left side: DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) and a stage 1 tumor. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Kelly Ann Settle
Photo: Kelly Ann Settle

Breast cancer survivor stories: ‘Remain positive, keep moving forward’

Woman stays positive, despite difficult journey over the past 5 years

Kelley St. Myers has been on a difficult journey that began five years ago after a routine health check. In the spring of 2014, following her annual mammogram check and subsequent testing and evaluations, St. Myers was diagnosed with two types of breast cancer on her left side: DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) and a stage 1 tumor. That’s when St. Myers was introduced to Dr. Zachary Simmons of Miami County Surgeons.

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Dr. Zachary Simmons of Miami County Surgeons. CONTRIBUTED

St. Myers admits that when she first met Dr. Simmons, she might have had a momentary qualm about his age. “He’s a younger gentleman,” she says. But she was quickly convinced that she’d found the right person for the job. “Dr. Simmons was very forthcoming. He told me all about what was going to happen and what they could do for me. He urged me to ask any questions I had. I asked a lot! And he answered them all. He was very personable.”

Dr. Simmons performed her first surgery, a lumpectomy, in May 2014. Following surgery, St. Myers had a course of radiation treatments and hormone therapy at Upper Valley Medical Center, and was scheduled for regular follow-ups.

In the spring of 2019, St. Myers again went for her regular mammogram. This time, the exam revealed a mass in her right side. “So I went in for further testing, including ultrasound and biopsies,” she says. “They came back showing a benign papilloma tumor. My oncologist, Rajeev Kulkarni, suggested that it should probably come out, so I met with Dr. Simmons again.”

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Dr. Rajeev Kulkarni is an oncologist. CONTRIBUTED

In May 2019, Dr. Simmons again performed surgery on St. Myers. “They removed the papilloma tumor and sent it out for further testing,” she says. “And it turned out that when they removed that tumor, they also found more DCIS, in the right breast this time around. So within two weeks of my surgery at the end of May, I went back in June for another surgery, a lumpectomy.”

Another round of radiation treatment followed the June surgery.

And what’s next for St. Myers? “At this point,” she says, “I’m going to finish out the course of radiation. As far as I’m aware, in the last surgery they got everything out that they needed to get out, with nice clean margins. I have some upcoming follow-ups with my oncologist and with Dr. Simmons. After that, I’ll be checked every three months for a couple of years and then checked every six months from there on. I’ll be doing hormone therapy for at least the next 10 years.”

St. Myers says that through all the surgeries, she has been very pleased with the work Dr. Simmons has done and with the care she’s received from the other health workers involved in her treatment at Upper Valley Medical Center.

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She’s pleased with the way things have turned out, and over the course of this long journey — through all the appointments, the surgeries, and the necessary travel back and forth for her radiation treatments — St. Myers has held on to an overwhelmingly positive attitude.

“I try not to let it get me down,” she says. “I go to work, I stay busy doing a lot of family things, and I just adopted a new puppy! My family is there for me, too. And I don’t dwell on my health. I know everything’s going to be OK.”

For anyone else who finds herself on a similar journey, St. Myers has a couple of suggestions.

First, consider working with Dr. Simmons. “I highly recommend him,” she says. “He’s a very caring person, he has a good bedside manner, and he does a great job.”

Her other piece of advice is to stay hopeful: “Remain positive, keep moving forward, and don’t let it get you down.”

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