Patient Stories


Breast Cancer

When Jeanette was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39, she opted for a double mastectomy in hopes of avoiding radiation treatment. When things didn’t work out exactly as she’d hoped, Jeanette discovered proton therapy, a treatment she says allowed her to maintain her busy life of work and motherhood.

A mother of two and sales representative for a pharmaceutical company, Jeanette discovered a lump in her breast while showering – a “complete fluke,” she called it – and ultimately discovered she had stage 1 ductal carcinoma.

“It was a devastating blow,” said Jeanette. “I had no family history. The whole thing is scary. And then I just decided, ‘Okay, let’s do this. We’re just going to check this off the list.’ You just do it. I don’t have another option.”

When the initial surgery failed to remove the cancer, she came to Dr. George Webber with the Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center, who recommended further surgery, followed by proton therapy. Proton therapy is a form of radiation therapy, concentrated to target the tumor while sparing surrounding healthy tissue and nearby organs from radiation damage.

“I didn’t know a lot about proton therapy,” Jeanette said. “But after meeting with the doctors at Provision, I was completely sold. I sell a cardiovascular drug, so I’m very familiar with that part of the body and how traditional radiation would damage my heart and lungs. I thought, ‘There’s no way I can do anything but proton therapy.’”

For Jeanette, the cancer journey was exercise in patience and endurance. It took a total of three surgeries to remove the initial tumor with adequate margins to prevent its spread. Then her insurance company refused to cover proton therapy, despite her age and the fact the cancer was located in her left breast near vulnerable organs. Although her case was still on appeal with the insurance company, Jeanette decided to go ahead with treatment at Provision regardless of whether her insurance company ended up approving it.

“Because of my girls, because I’m so young, I wanted to give myself the best possible chance at a long, full life,” she said. “I may be in debt, but it’s worth it.”

Jeanette said the level of personal support she received from the Provision staff also helped make her cancer treatment feel less clinical and more comfortable.

“The people have been outstanding,” she said. “I feel like everybody knows who I am. Everyone takes such good care of me. It makes me feel like this really is no big deal.”

Provision helped Jeanette beat breast cancer

Learn more about proton therapy treatment

Speak with a Cancer Care Expert

Find out if proton therapy is right for you