LeConte Stroke Coordinator Overcomes Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A LeConte Medical Center Patient’s Journey

Having worked in the Covenant Health system for over a decade, Callie West, a registered nurse (RN) and stroke coordinator at LeConte Medical Center, knows what it means to be a member of the Covenant Health team. She also has experience as a patient after receiving treatment for breast cancer while working at LeConte Medical Center. A lifelong student and recent graduate of the University of Tennessee’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, Callie sees her experience as a blessing of sorts as it helped further her perspective about what patients may be feeling and how she can help them.

What does Day to Day Look Like as a Stroke Coordinator?

Callie acts as a conduit between the medical teams and patients at Covenant Health by providing both parties with essential and up-to-date information about the latest clinical and procedural processes in stroke awareness and treatment. “There’s a huge collaboration between all the different departments,” Callie said about the planning and discussions within the facility.

Callie West Breast Cancer Survivor

Last year, Callie visited Sevierville Primary School to read a children’s book that her and her husband created for awareness called “Can My Dog Have a Stroke?” The book provided essential information that could be shared with families, which is a particular benefit for children in Sevier County who live with or are cared for by grandparents or older guardians.

Before shifting to the medical field and dedicating herself to serving patients as a nurse, Callie graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in graphic design and taught high school for a few years.

How Callie’s case presented

In 2017, during what Callie described as “a busy month,” her husband had a cardiac event that required stent surgery, and she was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Used to being on the clinical side, Callie shared how surreal the experience was when she was diagnosed and met with her physician. “When he told me what they had found and that I had DCIS, I asked him to repeat himself,” she said.

After the diagnosis, Callie thought about her three daughters and the journey that was ahead of her. She also felt grateful to the radiology and technician team members who were able to find the abnormal cells associated with DCIS as it easily could have been missed given the placement and smaller size. Along with supplemental materials and information, Callie also was given a book about breast cancer and began her treatment.

Callie continued working and underwent treatment at the Comprehensive Breast Center located inside LeConte Medical Center. She felt a great deal of support and connection to her team at LeConte and within Covenant Health:

“It was and is an extended family of support.”

Through her journey, Callie had two lumpectomies performed by board-certified surgeon Jeffrey King, MD, and received radiation treatment at Thompson Cancer Survival Center on LeConte’s campus. Throughout that process, Callie’s medical team kept her fully informed and answered all of her questions. The friendly atmosphere combined with beautiful mountain views surrounding the hospital helped make treatment a little easier as well.

What Callie Learned from Her Experience

Through her experiences on the clinical and patient side of significant health events, Callie expressed gratitude to be where she is and to see both sides so clearly. While Callie had empathy and compassion toward patients before, being in their shoes enhanced her abilities as a nurse and advocate for patients.

Breast Cancer Survivor Callie West

“Be a self-advocate and always ask questions,” Callie said. “Read the book they give you, then highlight, underline and tag areas you want to ask about. Don’t be afraid to research your condition and bring in family, a friend or someone to support and help ask questions during your appointments. Be sure to ask about support groups as well and learn to be an advocate for those on the same or a similar path as you.”

Callie noted resources also are available to patients in the Sevierville area, such as LeConte Medical Center’s Paint the Mountains Pink year-round initiative that helps provide free mammograms. The medical center also offers resources and educational materials to community members seeking more information about breast cancer.

LeConte’s Designated Comprehensive Breast Imaging Center

We’re committed to serving the comprehensive breast health and wellness needs of the women of Tennessee and beyond at our state-of-the-art medical facility, full of dedicated, caring medical professionals who will put you at ease while offering you the very best in person-centered care services.

We are ready to offer you the comprehensive breast health services you deserve—from screening services to recovery services.

Our Breast Center services include—

  • 2D and 3D mammography
  • Stereotactic breast biopsy
  • Breast ultrasound and ultrasound-guided breast biopsy
  • Breast MRI
  • Bone densitometry

For more information about the Comprehensive Breast Center at LeConte Medical Center, click here.

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