Noreen Malaney

Early detection saves life

Noreen Malaney beat breast cancer with help from Thyra M. Humphreys Center for Breast Health.

For Noreen Malaney, 65, of Middleburg, finding a lump in her breast on her own a month before her scheduled, routine mammogram was nerve-wracking. Following the breast screening, it was confirmed the lump was suspicious. Following a biopsy, she got the call that it was cancer.

“’Shock and awe day’ is what I call the day when I heard the news,” said Noreen. “Nothing prepares you for those words, ‘you have cancer.’”

Noreen’s family doctor referred her to John Turner, MD, FACS, at the Thyra M. Humphreys Center for Breast Health.

“In the beginning you’re just overwhelmed with the diagnosis, but once you let the information set in a bit, you start to think ‘how do I take on this challenge?,’” said Noreen.

To help her in that endeavor was Dr. Turner, who took the time to explain her specific breast cancer and her options. In addition, she found comfort and support from Michele Heimbach, Patient Navigator, and Kelly Lytle, RN Coordinator at the Center.

“Those girls were fantastic. They would take my calls to answer my questions and calm my concerns, or call me just to see how I was doing. It was those touchstones of support that helped so much in my journey,” said Noreen.

Noreen opted for a lumpectomy, followed by chemotherapy and radiation. Now through her course of treatment she can reflect on her cancer journey.

“I still get emotional about it, but I’m cancer free and the disease is no longer in my body. That alone makes me feel strong,” said Noreen.

Being cancer-free doesn’t mean that Michele and Kelly from the Center are out of touch.

“Working with patients to navigate their cancer journey means so much more than just helping in the heat of the battle,” said Kelly. “It means being there for the patient in the way they need, when they need it most. For us, helping comes in diagnosis, in treatment, and in survivorship.”

Nearly a year out from when she found the lump and on the other side of her cancer diagnosis, she is grateful for the support of her husband, family, and friends.

“I’m sure cancer is different for everyone. For me, relationships helped me through all of the moments and the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with them. I can truly say, the team at the Center for Breast Health have joined my circle of support and those relationships will stay with me.”