Words no woman ever wants to hear.

“We've found a lump in your breast.”

This was the news that Theresa Getter received after her normal yearly mammogram at Woman to Woman in October 2012.

“I hadn't felt anything myself,” she says. “The lump was deep within the breast and it was fortunate that the radiologist caught it. It could have easily been overlooked.”

After a second mammogram and three biopsies, Theresa was diagnosed with Stage 2A breast cancer in her right breast. It was estimated that the tumor was two centimeters.

“When something like this happens to you, you just don’t know what to think or what you’re supposed to do next,” Theresa says. “I was scared, of course, but I tried very hard to stay positive.”

Theresa got immediate support from Samaritan Oncology Nurse Navigator, Bonnie Trudeau. “Bonnie met with me right away and has been there for me every step along the way,” explains Theresa. “She does such an awesome job – you couldn't find a better person to help and guide cancer patients than her.”

After Watertown breast surgeon Dr. Deborah Norris gave Theresa her initial diagnosis of breast cancer, Theresa opted to go to Syracuse for a second opinion. After that office confirmed the diagnosis, Theresa then returned to Dr. Norris for treatment.

“The Syracuse practice made me feel like a number. I didn't feel that I was important to them. Dr. Norris, on the other hand, has been incredible. She helped explain my treatment options, she’s kept me informed, she made me feel comfortable, and she and her staff have always gone above and beyond for me. I would highly recommend Dr. Norris – and, in fact, I already have recommended her to several people I know.”

Due to her strong family history of breast cancer (her mother and great aunt both had it), Theresa decided to have a double mastectomy and then breast reconstructive surgery in December 2012. Dr. Norris performed the mastectomy, with plastic surgeon Dr. Guillermo Quetell doing the breast reconstruction.

After her surgery Theresa was told that a second, separate cancer was found in her left breast – one that had been undetected by her mammogram and other tests. The doctors also found that the lump in Theresa’s right breast was larger than initially estimated – five centimeters rather than two.

Post-surgery, Theresa underwent four months of chemotherapy and then seven weeks of radiation therapy to make sure that her cancer was completely gone. Her radiation therapy treatment was done by Dr. Daniel DeBlasio and the staff at the Walker Cancer Treatment Center at Samaritan – a group that Theresa calls “fantastic.”

Theresa’s journey has been a long one, but she recently received the very best of news. Her treatment is complete and she is cancer-free after her latest PET Scan.

“Now I’m focused on moving forward,” she says. “The support of God, my husband, my family, my friends and the wonderful and caring staff at Samaritan has meant everything to me and I’m so thankful and blessed.”


Bonnie Trudeau, Oncology Nurse Navigator meets with Theresa and her husband Steve.

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