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Maria Herrera: Confidence in Her Care During COVID-19

Maria Herrera

“I always felt safe. Drs. Terry, Sri, and my entire team, worked together so well and made sure I was comfortable. You get peace of mind it’s going to be okay.”

Maria Herrera
Breast Cancer

Patient Maria Herrera’s cancer journey hit an unexpected obstacle when COVID-19 seemingly put life on hold.

In March 2020, Maria Herrera was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her treatment plan included surgery, but Maria could not move forward due to state COVID-19 restrictions. Facing uncertainty, Maria continued to fight without discouragement because she had trust in her care team and confidence in her treatment outcome.

Receiving the Unexpected News

On April 6 2020, Maria met with her breast surgical oncologist Jamie Terry, M.D., FACS, of Texas Breast Specialists–Houston Medical Center and Texas Breast Specialists–Katy, to discuss her surgery delay. In the interim, Dr. Terry carefully reviewed her case and prescribed a bridging hormonal therapy.

When Maria learned from Dr. Terry that surgeries were on hold due to COVID-19 guidelines from the Texas Medical Board, she was afraid of how the delay might impact her course of treatment. “I thought COVID-19 would change everything,” said Maria. “It was a scary moment. I had no idea what was going to happen.”

Though Maria felt uncertain, her care team, including Dr. Terry and medical oncologist Srinath Sundararajan, M.D., FACP, of Texas Oncology–Bellville and Texas Oncology–Katy, worked together to reassure her of the effectiveness of her new treatment regimen, talk her through the changes, and discuss her questions and concerns.

“Like many other patients, her diagnosis was a bolt out of the blue. But that did not deter Maria from seeking care during the pandemic,” said Dr. Sundararajan. “She courageously turned this adverse news into an advantage by pursuing swift medical care, allowing her cancer to be treated at an early stage.”

Carrying on During COVID-19

Without clear indication of when Maria’s surgery might be rescheduled, she began hormone therapy with Tamoxifen, a selective estrogen receptor modulator, at the recommendation of Drs. Terry and Sundararajan. When necessary, Maria safely continued in-person visits with her care team and was referred to a plastic surgeon for breast reconstruction options after her surgery to remove the cancer. When possible, Maria utilized telemedicine to remain connected.

“I always felt safe,” Maria said. “Drs. Terry, Sri, and my entire team worked together so well and made sure I was comfortable. You get peace of mind it’s going to be okay.”

Maria had a mastectomy on May 22, 2020, shortly after statewide restrictions were loosened. Prior to the surgery, Maria virtually discussed the procedure with her care team and underwent a COVID-19 test as a precaution, further assuring her of the decision to continue treatment.

Benefitting from Persistence

Maria’s cancer is considered in remission. She’s currently on endocrine therapy to decrease the risk of cancer recurrence. While Maria’s journey started off as a whirlwind, she said she’s relieved her care team prevented COVID-19 from interfering in her overall care and provided her safe, comfortable access to high-quality cancer care amid the COVID-19 pandemic’s many challenges.

“Maria didn’t let COVID-19 deter her – a testament to her strength. She continued to work with every member of her cancer care team at Texas Oncology, fully trusting our guidance and approach,” said. Dr. Sundararajan. “She’s now benefitting from her commitment to being proactive about her health.”

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.