Raffel, Others Honored This Month

by | Oct 21, 2021 | Features, Health

Nancy Raffel continues treatment via infusions for her breast cancer.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer and to help uplift women in need.

Nancy Raffel of Greenville is one of those women who have been impacted by breast cancer.

She was diagnosed with invasive intraductal carcinoma in her right breast in August 2020. It was in Stage 2.

“I actually had no symptoms at all,” Raffel said. “It was discovered coincidentally. In July of 2020, I had a thyroid scan. When I went to the doctor, he told me my thyroid scan was negative for what they were looking for but wanted to know if I was aware that I had two suspicious areas in my right breast.”

Raffel said she saw her family physician a week after.

“She was unable to feel any masses,” Raffel recalled. “I was scheduled for a mammogram at that time. I had the mammogram and then they had me go over for an ultrasound. I suspected the results wouldn’t be good when the technician hugged me and had tears in her eyes. I’ve known her for a long time. After that I was scheduled to see Dr. Kara Schultz and Dr. Sheth.”

Raffel is currently receiving an infusion of Kadcyla every three weeks.

“I just had my sixth infusion and have eight more treatments,” she said. “I also take a pill daily that blocks my estrogen.
I’ll be taking it for the next five to 10 years.”

She has undergone multiple ultrasounds with biopsies, scans and MRIs.

“In mid September, I had a port placed in my chest,” said Raffel. “I started chemo one week later. I received four different drugs by infusion every three weeks and completed those Dec. 30. I was given some recovery time. During this time, I had genetic testing done. Those results showed a gene mutation (chek2). This increased my risk for breast cancer to 30 percent.

The decision was made to remove both of my breasts.

I had bilateral mastectomies with sentinel lymph node biopsies the end of February this year. I returned to work mid-March. Because I had a chest port, I had to have it flushed with saline periodically. At one of these flushings it was discovered that my port had ‘flipped’. I then had surgery to reposition the port. It was at the end of April I started radiation. I received 30 treatments, Monday through Friday.”

Those treatments, she said, were completed the first of June.

“Several days later, my skin started to show signs of burns,” Raffel noted. “They got worse before they got better but everything has healed up. I did lose my hair after the first two chemo treatments. I had dreaded it but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. It started growing back in March.”

When asked what her emotions were throughout this experience, Raffel replied, “Well, I have always prayed that my family and I would never have to go through cancer. This is confession time. I did not get regular mammograms. I checked myself all the time and prayed that if cancer did develop, God would let me know. He answered that prayer! After I left the doctor’s office, I allowed myself a few tears but then decided that was enough and it was time to get on with it. I was so grateful that it was me instead of any of my loved ones and friends. I did well with my treatments. I can’t say I ever dreaded going.”

Did she stay positive?

“Yes. I still am,” she added.

What is the secret to getting through something like this? “I think a lot depends on your outlook of life, she remarked. “I am an optimistic person and try to see the good in everything and everybody. I try to live in the present. I don’t fret about the past or worry about the future. My faith and trust in God allows me take life one day at a time.”

Raffel was born and raised in Greenville, daughter of Foster and Ellen Meier. She has been married to Charles Raffel since 1977.

“He has taken great care of me as I’ve needed it,” Nancy said. “We have three wonderful children, Ann, Lynne and Matt.”

In 1972, she attended Fort Wayne Lutheran School of Nursing, graduating in June 1975 and started her career as a registered nurse.

During her illness mentor(s) who comes to mind for her are Jill Brown, cancer coordinator at Wayne Heathcare, and the oncology nurses there, in particular, Heather Kremer and Jenny Smith.

“They have been amazing,” she said. I love them all.”

Raffel retired June 30 this year from Wayne HealthCare after 46 years of service….her entire nursing career.

“For 40 of those years, I was the infection preventionist,” she said.

If she could give advice to those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, what would it be?

“I would say don’t panic,” she stated. “Be informed and educated but don’t dwell on it. Don’t dwell on the negative, look for the positive. Live your life as normally as possible…day by day. Have healthcare providers that you trust. They will do everything in their power to support you and make you comfortable. Accept there may be days you’re not at your best but it will get better. Be kind to yourself.”

Breast cancer, she and her sister, Becky Campbell, have figured out has only struck once in her family.

“There was not so much cancer of any kind on my mother’s side, but there were multiple incidences on my father’s side,” she said.

Nancy Raffel shows off her retirement cake from Wayne HealthCare. She worked there for 46 years, 40 of them as infection preventionist.
Nancy Raffel, front and center, is surrounded by her treatment pals, from left to right, Jill Brown, cancer coordinator at the hospital; oncology nurses Jenny Smith and Heather Kremer; and Dave Hopply, director of pharmacy.
Nancy Raffel continues treatment via infusions for her breast cancer.

I am a Darke County native living in the Ansonia area with my son. I have been in journalism 50+ years and enjoy what I do.

Contact Darke County Now Media Correspondent Linda Moody @ lmoody@darkecountynow.com or 937-337-1955.

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