Strong-Arming Cancer

Having world-class services in her backyard helped Surprise resident tackle breast cancer

By Candace Hoffmann

When she read that 85-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg does 23 pushups each day, Doris Westrack, 85, of Surprise, took up the challenge. After all, if one octogenarian can do that so could she. Doris added pushups to her exercise routine that includes yoga, Pilates, biking, walking and general workouts at the gym. She has now added 23 pushups to her daily routine. Take that Justice Ginsburg! But then, breast cancer came to call with a challenge all its own – survival. 

Doris went for her yearly mammogram when the screening test showed something was not quite right, but as she says, “at 84 you don’t think you’re going to get cancer.”  Further testing showed that indeed, that was the case.  Doris was paired with Tracy Griffith, R.N., an oncology nurse navigator with Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, who helped Doris sort out all the next steps, including finding a surgeon. 

While Doris’ mother and sisters all had had breast cancer, she said she really didn’t have a clue of what she needed to do. “I was kind of in la-la land.” 

But Tracy was there and helped Doris find a surgeon, Kelly Rosso, M.S., M.D., a breast surgical oncologist with Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center. While thrilled to have a Banner MD Anderson surgeon, Doris didn’t want to drive all the way to Gilbert, where the medical center is located. Imagine her surprise to find that all the services she needed are available right in Sun City West. 

Dr. Rosso and Doris met and talked about her care plan and decided a lumpectomy followed by radiation would be the best course. “I was so impressed with Dr. Rosso; she took a lot of time,” Doris remembers. 

Doris also found out she had an entire team on her side deliberating over her care, including a Tumor Board. “At Tumor Board, we review the patient’s mammogram, pathology and then talk about the best treatment plan going forward,” Dr. Rosso says. “We also discuss clinical trials available to our patients, which is a big benefit of having Banner MD Anderson involved.” 

The Banner MD Anderson Comprehensive Breast Cancer Clinic opened at Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center last November. It brings together medical imaging and surgical, medical and radiation oncology expertise in one location for highly coordinated care and enhanced patient experience. 

Dr. Rosso notes how this puts the needs of the patient first. “Through this model, we are able to provide a multi-disciplinary treatment plan for each individual patient and her specific type of cancer,” she says. “We are able to focus on the whole patient and meet all of their treatment goals in an efficient and compassionate manner.”

Banner Boswell Medical Center will also see renovation and enhancements to its oncology offerings. The Endoscopy department will be expanded to accommodate the growth of lung cancer treatment and thoracic care by providing new minimally invasive options for patients.  

The oncology expansions on both campuses are part of a $2.14 million campaign by Sun Health Foundation. “Our Northwest Valley communities are invested in these medical centers. They brought them into existence in the ’70s and ’80s and now see the opportunity to bring the world-class care of MD Anderson to their doorstep. It’s an exciting time to be spearheading this campaign and building on our long history of supporting oncology care on these campuses,” says Gina Ore, Sun Health Foundation’s chief philanthropy officer.

Doris, now a year out from her treatment, is back to her exercise routines and continues to challenge Justice Ginsburg. “I lucked out on everything and can’t say enough about Banner MD Anderson and Dr. Rosso,” she says. “I’m grateful to have them close by.” 


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