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Katherine Peck: Starting a New Chapter Amid Cancer and COVID-19

Katherine Peck

“I tell everyone to get mammograms. It’s so important, COVID-19 or not, to keep up with your screenings and physician follow-ups.”

Katherine Peck
Breast Cancer

For Katherine Peck, retirement was on the horizon in 2020. However, as she was planning the next chapter in her life, things took a different turn after her yearly mammogram resulted in a breast cancer diagnosis.

Staying Proactive

Katherine has scheduled an annual mammogram for the last 25 years, and 2020 was no different, even with the COVID-19 pandemic. She lost her mother to breast cancer, so she’s diligent about scheduling her screening every year. Her mammogram in May 2020 led to additional testing and a biopsy that confirmed her breast cancer diagnosis. That led her to Michelle Ashworth, M.D., medical oncologist, and Karen Cohen, M.D., radiation oncologist, both of whom see patients at Texas Oncology–Round Rock.

Motivated by her family’s history of breast cancer, and with her two daughters in mind, Katherine underwent genetic testing. The tests confirmed that her cancer was not caused by an inherited gene mutation – comforting news she could share with her two daughters.

In June 2020, Katherine had a lumpectomy and began radiation therapy following her surgery. As she planned appointments with her care team to discuss treatment, Katherine was impressed by Texas Oncology’s telemedicine capability, and said the virtual experience felt like she was meeting with her physicians in person.

Due to visitor restrictions at medical facilities, Katherine said that telemedicine allowed her husband, David, to be present when the overload of information felt overwhelming.

“David wasn’t able to accompany me to doctor’s appointments. It’s stressful to come out of surgery to an empty recovery room,” Katherine explained. “With telemedicine, it’s easy for him to be there by my side when I’m talking to my doctor.”

Finding Comfort Amid COVID-19

Katherine’s job as a business manager for a surgical practice in Austin gave her a behind-the-scenes perspective and confidence to know that precautions were being taken to protect patient safety during treatment.

“COVID-19 didn’t alarm me as much as others because I knew what providers were doing in the background to keep patients safe, and I feel safer now than before the pandemic,” Katherine said.

For many cancer patients, loved ones can provide a source of support and comfort through treatment and recovery. Katherine said her college sweetheart and husband of 40 years has been by her side throughout her cancer journey.

“David has been amazing. He’s completely taken on grocery shopping and helps with a lot of the cooking. He takes care of our puppy. He just keeps on going.”

While Katherine hasn’t been able to see her two daughters and four grandchildren as often as before the pandemic, they’ve safely spent quality family time together on her front lawn with masks on, and she still talks to her daughters on the phone every day.

Starting a New Chapter

Katherine encourages other women to get their screenings and to use the resources available to them.

“I tell everyone to get mammograms. It’s so important, COVID-19 or not, to keep up with your screenings and physician follow-ups,” she said.

2020 has brought a lot of change for Katherine. Now in retirement, she and David have not only adjusted to being together all day, every day, but they’ve also learned how to fight cancer head on during a global pandemic.

Despite it all, Katherine is looking forward to the future, and that means more trips to the Texas coast with David. According to this avid fisher, there’s nothing quite like a Texas beach, and an open sea is where she plans to start her next chapter.

The information included in this testimonial is based on one patient’s unique experience and is not intended to represent all patient outcomes or expectations.