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A Team of Caregivers and A Positive Attitude

A Team of Caregivers and A Positive Attitude

Getting Through Cancer Treatment

Carla Greene’s hair fell out on July 3, 2022. “First, I cried,” she recalls. “Then I dried my tears, put on a scarf, lipstick, and my Jackie O sunglasses, and checked out the results in the mirror. I looked cute!” She went out to the store to do her errands.

It’s this positive outlook and her strong faith that is getting her through treatment for the breast cancer that was diagnosed last year. She’s had a mastectomy and is now going through chemotherapy. Then, she’ll have 25 sessions of radiation therapy. Her response to all this? “I’m alive and grateful,” she says. “I have people who care for and about me. And I have my team at Washington Hospital.”

Carla learned she had breast cancer when she was living in Las Vegas, NV. Originally from the Bay Area she wanted to get treatment at UCSF. When she learned about the UCSF - Washington Cancer Center, where Washington Hospital patients receive academic-level care, she temporarily relocated to Fremont where she is staying with a friend while undergoing cancer treatment.

Carla recalls that she met with Washington Hospital oncologist Carlton Scharman, MD, in the middle of March. “At the same time, lab tests were ordered and appointments were scheduled for me to meet with a radiologist and a surgeon.” Within two weeks, Carla’s surgery was scheduled.

“After meeting with surgeon Dr. Kranthi Achanta, I felt confident and safe to move forward with him and the USCF - Washington Hospital team,” Carla notes. “Dr. Achanta’s years of experience, knowledge, honesty, compassion and caring played a huge factor in my decision. He told me that his mother had died from breast cancer which made me feel he was invested in his patients’ wellbeing and that I mattered.”

Her Tribe of Supporters Keeps Her Going

Carla says her favorite parts of her body have always been her hair, her skin and her breasts. Consider the devastation she felt on learning that she had breast cancer, which would affect those and other parts of her anatomy. “My skin is becoming dark in areas, with blemishes and scars because of the chemotherapy. I lost one breast. And all my hair is gone.”

But Carla says that from day one she had a “tribe” of people who have given her hope and support. “I don’t know how people without this kind of caring network can get through what I’ve been through,” she says.

She emphasizes the attentive care she is receiving at the UCSF - Washington Cancer Center. “Everyone there treats me like a person, not a patient,” she comments. “From the receptionist to the infusionist to each one of my nurses, physical therapists and physicians -- they smile, they greet me like they mean it, ask me if I need anything – everything they do shows they care.”

She recalls forgetting to ask Dr. Prasad Kilaru, her plastic surgeon, a question during her appointment. Carla called his office a few minutes after leaving. “I expected to leave a message, but they immediately put me through to him,” she says.

Chemotherapy day is filled with Hospital staff calling out “Hi, Carla!” and asking her how she’s doing and if she needs anything. “I’ve been other places for health care where I felt like I was just a number. The UCSF – Washington Cancer Center staff is encouraging, professional, honest and loving. They’ve become like family.”

Everyone is Unique

Her experience with breast cancer so far has made her understand that her body is unique, so doctors can’t always predict what the side effects of treatment may be. Her advice to others going through breast cancer treatment is to “stay on the mentally positive side, to make it better for the physical side.” And, Carla advises that depending on the type of cancer, people with cancer should keep in mind that the treatment stage is temporary. “One day you’ll look in the rear-view mirror and see this experience in the past.”

Carla’s future is bright, and her surgeon, Dr. Achanta, expects she’ll be around for another 30 years. “I have so much to be thankful for,” she says. “And my head is a really nice shape!”

Carla hopes that sharing a small piece of her journey will encourage other people to schedule regular mammograms and if diagnosed with breast cancer, try to keep a positive attitude. To schedule a mammogram, call 510.818.7410. For more information about the UCSF - Washington Cancer Center, visit whhs.com/cancer. To join the seminar “Breast Cancer Screening: When and Why,” click here.

Learn more about breast cancer program