Amber Pharmacy Senior Care Coordinator Stephanie Parker works with cancer patients on a daily basis. She reminds them to refill their medications and checks on how they’re doing. Up until August of 2016, she never thought at a young age she would end up being one herself.
It started after Stephanie had her daughter. She noticed a lump in her breast but thought nothing of it. “I didn’t have it before I had my daughter, so I thought it was a clogged milk duct or something,” Stephanie said. “You put it off and think it’s nothing. It never got bigger or smaller. I didn’t have any other symptoms and have no family history of breast cancer.”
Luckily, Stephanie had co-workers who kept after her to get it checked. She started to have a bad feeling after her healthcare team conducted multiple tests. These bad feelings were confirmed when a tumor was found in one of her breasts. Her treatment plan included six months of chemotherapy, followed by a double mastectomy and then radiation.
As you can imagine, undergoing chemotherapy while working full-time and having a family at home exhausted Stephanie. “The first round of chemo knocked me out to where I missed a week and a half of work. When I came back, I could only work four hours at a time,” Stephanie said. “It’s amazing how much of my energy was gone.”
Stephanie was fortunate enough to have a dedicated oncology team looking after her throughout her treatment. She is especially thankful for the oncology nurses that stayed by her side. “When I was on the operating table, I got scared, so I held the nurse’s hand. She didn’t move. She just stood there with me,” Stephanie said.
As a Senior Care Coordinator at Amber Pharmacy, she knew the impact healthcare professionals can have on patients’ lives but now she has a new perspective. “I know we’re keeping these patients alive and in some cases, we’re their lifeline,” Stephanie said. “I knew it already but now it has a different meaning to me.”
After her surgery, the day finally came when her doctors told her that her cancer was gone. In spring of 2017, Stephanie had won her fight. In total, she had sixteen lymph nodes removed. She was now in remission. Adjusting back to normal life was a bit odd for Stephanie. She was so used to seeing doctors and nurses constantly that not having to see them seemed strange. “You’re going to the doctor all of the time and it’s go, go, go. All of the sudden you’re just hanging out. I’m still processing it,” she said.
Now when Stephanie talks to patients, she applies her experience with cancer and lets them know she understands what they’re going through. She knows how it feels to be in the fight of your life. Stephanie is also grateful to have a strong support system here at Amber Pharmacy. After she finished her last chemotherapy treatment, the company organized a “pink out” and sold pink lanyards to help Stephanie pay for medical expenses. The “Pink Out for Parker” ended up raising $500 for Stephanie and her family.
This October is Stephanie’s first Breast Cancer Awareness Month as a breast cancer survivor. With her new perspective on cancer, she has one message to share. “It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, check yourself regularly and know your body. Both men and women get breast cancer. If you’re due for a mammogram, stay on top of it.”
Being aware of how your breasts normally look and feel will help you notice any changes. Any change is worth mentioning to your doctor, even if you think it’s nothing. You can learn more about the importance of self-awareness and detecting breast cancer from Amber Pharmacy Clinical Pharmacist Jill Raybourn.
Amber Pharmacy’s Oncology Center of Excellence is a dedicated team that provides consistent and exceptional care and clinical expertise for all patients and caregivers dealing with cancer and cancer-related concerns.
Our Oncology Center of Excellence is led by oncology-trained pharmacists and includes clinical pharmacists, nurses, pharmacy technicians and supportive staff. This team has extensive experience with oncology patients and provides support for the clinical, physical, financial, educational and emotional needs of patients and their caregivers.
About Stephanie Parker
Stephanie is a senior care coordinator and has worked at Amber Pharmacy since 2014. She loves interacting with patients and making a difference in patients’ lives. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and traveling.