By Gwen Guerke
During October the nation celebrated Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The campaign, symbolized by the color pink, promotes early detection, and also supports and honors survivors, then remembers those who lost the fight against breast cancer. Daniele Albanese, 44, Milford, creates pink jewelry and trained two mentor breast cancer patients, doing her part to get the word out.
She is a breast cancer survivor who chose to have her treatments at Bayhealth Milford Memorial after she found a lump in her left breast this past January. Since she had overcome Hodgkin’s lymphoma when she was 24, Mrs. Albanese, the mother of two grown sons, qualified for yearly mammograms since prior radiation treatments increased her risk. She had experience with fluid-filled cysts in her right breast, and this lump felt different; it felt tender to her touch.
“I kinda knew. I saw my oncologist and got a new mammogram ordered,” she said. She had an ultrasound guided biopsy, and she learned it was solid tissue. “I was not feeling good about it.” Her surgeon, Dr. Glenn E. Graybeal, explained the biopsy reports and informed Albanese that she had stage 2 cancer. “When they tell you that you have cancer, your head is spinning. They tell you to ask questions, but you don’t know what to ask,” Albanese said.
Her oncologist from her prior cancer explained that the breast cancer was probably radiation induced and recommended a double mastectomy. Dr. Graybeal performed the surgery in January, and Mrs. Albanese chose to have reconstructive surgery immediately after. “Nobody wants to lose their breasts,” she said.
The surgery was followed by chemotherapy at Milford Memorial Hospital’s Cancer Center. “They are wonderful. Some of the volunteers are breast cancer survivors. My experience here at Bayhealth was great. I could call the oncology nurses, and they would answer right away. I never had to leave a message,” said Mrs. Albanese. “I was not sick at all. It was different than when I had it in ’94. I was able to eat. They had a port-numbing cream so I didn’t feel a thing. I had already been through it before, but this was wonderful because I could do stuff.”
Following her diagnosis and surgery, she developed a relationship with the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, and completed mentor training. In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Bayhealth partnered the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition for an educational event to help promote awareness of breast health for men and women and provided free screenings and informational displays. Local vendors such as the Cancer Support Community, Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Easter Seals, Bayhealth’s Education and Nutrition Departments shared products and information related to healthcare services in this area.