Lawrenceburg Mom Grateful for Coordinated Cancer Care Close to Home
Five-week-old Kaden Law immediately stops crying when his mom gently cradles him in her arms. For him, all is right with the world. His mom, however, is bravely facing the biggest battle of her life. She was 35 weeks and four days along in her pregnancy, when she was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer.
“I felt a lump and was having symptoms, so I made an appointment with my OB/GYN,” said 32-year-old Kim Law. Concerned, Dr. Stephen Kraeling immediately called his colleague, Highpoint Health surgeon, Dr. Steven Weber, who ordered a breast ultrasound. “In the middle of my test, the technician stopped and said he needed to speak with Dr. Weber,” explained Kim. “He promptly ordered a biopsy, and it was completed within the hour.”
Working Behind the Scenes
“As soon as radiology told me Kim had a suspicious mass, I went to work getting all of the insurance authorizations needed to perform the biopsy,” said Kelly Kemper, RN, FNP, Coordinator of Navigation Services at the Highpoint Health Breast Care Center. “I never want a patient to have to worry about what to do next. That’s my job.” Kemper also stayed with Kim and her husband throughout the biopsy. “I could see they were overwhelmed. I wanted to be there if they had questions and also to be their security blanket.”
Putting Together a Team of Experts
The next morning, Dr. Weber called Kim and confirmed she had breast cancer. “I knew she was nervous and I wanted to give her the test results as soon as possible,” said Dr. Weber. “There are a lot of emotions involved in a cancer diagnosis. Even more when a baby is involved. A multi-disciplinary team was quickly assembled to ensure both she and her baby received the best care possible.”
With input from Dr. Kraeling, the decision was made to induce Kim in one week. This would give the baby’s lungs more time to develop. In the meantime, Dr. Weber contacted Ivan Bedoya-Apraez, MD, a St. Elizabeth Healthcare oncologist, working in partnership with Highpoint Health, and asked him to review Kim’s case. “Dr. Bedoya put a game plan in place so I could begin treatment as soon as Kaden was born,” said Kim.
Comprehensive Cancer Care Close to Home
Before beginning chemotherapy, Kim needed to get a PET scan, MRI and an echocardiogram. Realizing the physical and emotional toll all of this was taking on her, Kemper worked with radiology so that Kim could get all of her tests done as soon as possible – which just happened to be only three days after giving birth to Kaden. “The echo tech actually came to work early so I could get all of my tests done on the same day,” said Kim.
After the testing was complete, Dr. Weber surgically implanted a port in Kim’s arm so she could begin her chemotherapy treatments. Under the supervision of Dr. Bedoya-Apraez, Kim gets her chemotherapy treatments at the Highpoint Health Professional Building. “I’m so glad I’ve been able to get all of the cancer care services I need close to home,” said Kim. “Chemo makes me incredibly tired and also gives me motion sickness. It can make even a 10-minute car ride feel like an eternity.”
Genetic Testing Provides Valuable Information
“Given Kim’s diagnosis, age and family history, I thought it was important for her to speak with a genetic counselor,” said Dr. Weber. Testing revealed Kim is BRCA1 positive. This means she’s at a higher risk for developing a second primary breast cancer. It also increases her chances of developing ovarian cancer. Armed with this information, both Kim and Dr. Weber felt it was best to perform a bilateral mastectomy upon completion of her chemotherapy. Dr. Alexis Armour, Highpoint Health’s reconstructive surgery specialist, will perform Kim’s breast reconstruction. And later in her recovery, Dr. Kraeling will also perform her hysterectomy.
Just like her oncology care, Kim’s genetic testing was made possible through a partnership between Highpoint Health and St. Elizabeth Healthcare. “I’ve never seen such excellent coordination of care between two hospitals,” commented Kim’s mother, Jenny Rohr.
Sense of Community at Highpoint Health
“It feels like home to me,” said Kim. “You just don’t experience that with the big hospitals. I’m not just a number. Everybody knows my name.” She expressly acknowledges all that Kemper has done to ease her through this ordeal. “Everything flows easily – I don’t have to worry about any of my appointments. Kelly also texts to see how I’m doing and leaves uplifting comments on my Facebook page. I couldn’t believe it when she came to visit me at my first chemo appointment. She’s beyond amazing.”
“Kim is a role model to me,” said Kemper. “Her incredible courage and determination help make me a stronger person.” She’s evidently inspired others also. After a recent appointment, together, Dr. Kraeling, Dr. Bertsch – Kaden’s Highpoint Health pediatrician – and their teams presented Kim with two gift baskets filled with much-needed items to help her and her family through this difficult time.
“I cried, my doctors cried and the nurses teared up. I can't begin to describe how amazing my medical team has been. It means so much to know there is so much support and care coming from so many people.”