Barbara Hull

My journey began on July 4, 2011, and I had not gotten a mammogram in 3 years, due to the fact that I was working long term temp jobs and had no insurance. I had been getting mammograms since I was 35 since I had dense breasts. I also thought I was breezing through menopause, which started 3 years prior. I awoke to blood droplets from my left nipple and contacted my PCP’s office. I saw them, was examined thoroughly and no lump or tumor was found. I was told to get a mammogram ASAP. I googled the words “low-cost mammogram in the San Fernando Valley” and Valley Breast Care popped up. I called them and was seen that same day. Three days later I received a call that my mammogram was suspicious and would need to return. Another mammogram, two ultrasounds and two breast biopsies later confirmed 5 weeks later that I had HER2 Positive breast cancer. I began to sense something was wrong during the needle biopsies and hoped and prayed for a good outcome. I felt safe at Valley Breast Care, I was on my own and many treatments were to come: outpatient surgery with Dr. Lomis; moving on to an Oncologist and more examinations and the dreaded other word than cancer: Chemotherapy. Six treatments from September through December. It wasn’t awful, but necessary and time consuming. At my first treatment, I read what to do and a friend took me and we actually sat there chatting and eating homemade ham sandwiches. The second and third treatment made me nauseous, but it soon passed. I continued to stay hopeful and prayed a lot. A follow up mammogram in January looked good so I moved on to 33 radiation treatments at Valley Presbyterian Hospital. I was also being treated by IV with Herceptin, a mono clonal antibody, for many months. A friend’s aunt had been treated with Herceptin and it was the miracle treatment of the time. Receiving multiple IV treatments was not hard for me because I had been a blood and plasma doner with the Red Cross from 1973 to 1993, so needles didn’t bother me.
I was considered cancer free several months later, still working and caring for a friend, who was elderly, and we took care of each other. The best was yet to come. I have been working in Dr. Lomis’ office, assisting his office staff for the last three years, full time. While I am late 60’s now, working is still what I want and need to do, like my dear father did, who watches out for me in Heaven.
To say I have been fortunate is an understatement. I don’t believe in luck. Most women survive breast cancer and keep moving forward. I kept it simple; I asked for and got the help I needed, followed all the doctor’s instructions and continue to get my annual mammograms and the occasional ultrasound every year. Grateful to the State of California who put me on Medi-Cal, with the help of James, Dr. Lomis’ “wingman” to cover all my treatments. For a brilliant and caring surgeon, Dr. Tom Lomis, who is now my employer. I love my job and my life, which was given back to me through the kindnesses of many at Valley Breast Care and the Grace of God.

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