When Rose McKinley of Pine Bluff had her annual mammogram in late 2019, she had no reason to be apprehensive. With no previous problems and no history of breast cancer in her family, the exam at Jefferson Regional was just routine healthcare maintenance. Even when she was told something on the image looked suspicious and an ultrasound was ordered, she wasn’t too concerned. “In my mind, I thought, ‘there’s nothing to this; they’re going to call and say everything is fine’. So when they contacted me and said it was malignant, it was a total shock.”
An appointment was made for Rose to see Jefferson Regional General Surgeon Michelle Eckert, who did a needle biopsy and confirmed that it was cancer. Surgery was the next step but scheduling was a challenge because Rose was already scheduled for kidney surgery. “I was very pleased with how they coordinated my care during that time,” Rose said. “Dr. Eckert worked closely with my kidney surgeon so all of my needs could be met in a timely fashion.” Within the next two weeks, Dr. Eckert performed a lumpectomy and also removed a lymph node. “The node was not cancerous, and neither was the tissue around the lump, which was a relief,” said Rose. The breast surgery took place in December of 2019, and Rose began radiation treatments in February of 2020. “I had close to 30 radiation treatments,” she said, “and thankfully I was never sick. I was just extremely tired, and took a lot of naps during that time!” Rose completed her radiation in April of last year, and because her breast cancer was estrogen driven, she now takes an estrogen inhibitor on a daily basis.
Throughout the journey, Rose said she has been extremely pleased with her experience at Jefferson Regional. One memorable experience took place right before her breast surgery. “I remember so well; the interventional radiologist was inserting the wire that guides the surgeon to the affected area. He was so kind, so understanding. I was crying the whole time and he kept saying, ‘this is all good, they found it early, you’re going to be just fine.’ That was such a help at such a difficult time.”
Rose is now feeling great and back to her normal routine, including regular mammograms. Following her surgery, Rose was being checked every six months, but her doctors have now switched her back to annual exams, and her most recent visit took place at Jefferson Regional’s newly remodeled breast center in the Professional Building. “It’s just wonderful,” she said. “I was so impressed with all of it. I have shared pictures of it with many people on social media. It was a very positive experience, right down to the warm robe I was given to wear. They make you feel special.”
“I know some people think you have to go to a larger city for care, but I have been very, very pleased with the care I received at Jefferson Regional.”