Whirlwind Week Ends in Reassurance for Breast Cancer Patient

Katie keeping a smile through treatment
Katie keeping a smile through treatment

It was a Monday when Katie Lazdowski got the news no 33-year-old mother expects to hear: “You have breast cancer.” Waiting is never easy, but waiting to find out what’s next after a cancer diagnosis can be excruciating. After meeting with a local oncologist in Amherst, Mass., about two hours west of Boston, on Wednesday, Katie called Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. The next day she met with her treatment team, and had both a plan of attack and a sense of reassurance.

“Once I met my team, I knew Dana-Farber was where I wanted to be,” says Katie, who met her medical oncologist, surgeon, and radiation oncologist from Dana-Farber’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers within a four hour window on that first Thursday. The three had already conferred regarding her diagnosis and were ready with a plan. “I wondered, ‘What gives me the privilege of getting this great care?’ I felt very grateful.”

“Katie’s experience is exactly the point behind the Next-Day Access Initiative,” says Craig Bunnell, MD, MPH, MBA, chief medical officer at Dana-Farber, who is spearheading the program. “We have worked very hard to make it easy to come to Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. All patients need to know is to call, and they will quickly be in good hands.”

Next-Day Access allows patients to speak with a new patient coordinator at Dana-Farber one day and meet their care team the next business day, or any day they choose. Patients also receive a call back from a nurse within a day to learn more about what to expect during the first visit.

“Having that human contact so early on was really reassuring,” says Katie. “Just having someone know I was coming, and Dana-Farber reaching out to my local hospital for my biopsy so quickly, really put me at ease. Navigating the medical system is hard enough, so that assistance was great.”

Katie's family
Katie’s parents and her son

Katie was encouraged to call Dana-Farber by her father, Paul, who was treated at the Institute previously for melanoma. He, and her mother, Joanne, accompanied Katie throughout her treatment. Finished with active treatment now, Katie and her husband Artie are looking forward to growing their family; the couple is fostering children, with plans to adopt.

Looking back, Katie says her experience at Dana-Farber is one she won’t soon forget.  “I am still in awe of the professionalism and the warm and caring nature of the staff; you really feel like you’re being taken care of – body, mind, and spirit.”