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A Fremont Woman's Breast Cancer Journey

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A Fremont Woman's Breast Cancer Journey

While most people are shocked to hear they have breast cancer, Kathy Laidlaw took the news surprisingly well, replying to her radiologist, Dr. Mimi Lin, “OK, so what’s the plan?” Back in 2011, Kathy had been airlifted from Yosemite with a stroke and in 2017, she was diagnosed with and treated for thyroid cancer. After what she had been through, stage 1 breast cancer seemed like a mere inconvenience–but it turned out to be more complicated than she expected. Thanks to her resilient attitude, comprehensive medical team, and a world class UCSF - Washington Cancer Center near her Fremont home, Kathy is now cancer free and has quite a story to tell.

Kathy has been getting annual mammograms since she was in her 20s because she’s in a higher risk group for breast cancer. After her recent 3-D mammogram in May, she got “the call” from Dr. Lin who wanted to see her back at the Washington Outpatient Imaging Center for an ultrasound biopsy. That’s when she got the news.

“My experience with thyroid cancer treatments had been pretty brief and straightforward, so I thought it would be the same with breast cancer,” said Kathy. “But it was overwhelming at first because I had so much to learn and so many appointments. Luckily I had a team that helped lead me through it.” Kathy first met with a nurse navigator who scheduled all her appointments, including a visit with Washington Hospital’s Lymphedema Services and HERS Breast Cancer Foundation which provides post-surgical products and services. “While it was a bigger deal than I thought at first, I felt well cared for and the communication was great. The process is complex, but they made it as simple and straightforward as humanly possible.”

Next Kathy met with Bogdan Eftimie, MD, a UCSF hematologist-oncologist and medical director of the UCSF - Washington Cancer Center. Dr. Eftimie recommended lumpectomy surgery, radiation therapy, and hormone-blocking medication to treat Kathy’s cancer.

In mid-July, Kathy’s lumpectomy was performed by Dr. William Dugoni, Washington Township Medical Foundation surgeon and medical director of the Washington Women’s Center. “Of course it’s nerve-racking to undergo surgery,” Kathy shared. “But it was as good an experience as possible. Dr. Dugoni’s office prepared me with a binder full of information so I could stay organized with all the details that go along with breast cancer treatments. It gave me peace of mind during a difficult time.”

Next up was 15 radiation therapy sessions over three weeks at the Washington Radiation Oncology Center. Kathy’s UCSF radiation oncologist, Emi Yoshida, MD, met with her to explain everything about the process and how she should expect to feel. Because of a partnership with UCSF, cancer patients in the Tri-City Area have access to state-of-the-art radiation technology close to home. A new, advanced linear accelerator allows for more targeted therapies based on three-dimensional images of the tumor, which in turn minimizes injury to the surrounding tissue.

“I’m grateful that all my doctors and treatments are conveniently located near my home in Fremont,” Kathy pointed out. “My friend’s husband, who was diagnosed with cancer several years ago, had to travel to San Francisco for all his UCSF oncology appointments and treatments. Now we have the luxury of not having to commute for treatments.” Kathy added that she is excited to attend Washington Hospital’s Top Hat Gala this Saturday evening, since proceeds of the event will support the new UCSF - Washington Cancer Center opening in 2025.

“I am thankful my doctors at Washington Hospital encouraged me to be proactive and continue getting my annual mammograms,” concluded Kathy “At first I didn’t expect this to be a ‘journey,’ but it was and I truly felt supported every step of it. To any local women who consider going across the Bay for academic-level cancer care, I would say don’t waste your time and money, because what we have here in Fremont is truly exceptional. You can be confident you are getting the best care possible right here at home.”

To learn more about the Washington Women’s Center, visit For more information about the UCSF - Washington Cancer Center, go to