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Physician Collides with Cancer

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year alone. These statistics mean that physicians deal with cancer a lot and are continuously studying the treatments available for their patients. However, for OBGYN Nicole Gress, the lessons have gone beyond clinical care. This past year, she not only assisted her co-worker, Dr. Ka-Widmann, cope through her battle with Breast Cancer, but also fought alongside both her mother and mother-in-law in their own battles against this painful disease. “I felt like I was surrounded by breast cancer,” said Dr. Gress.

gress2Cynthia Moskal, mother of Dr. Nicole Gress, always knew she had a high risk for both Ovarian and Breast Cancer. Since her sister past away at 30 from breast cancer, Cynthia decided to get the BRCA Screening. Unfortunately, she tested positive for the Triple Negative BRCA gene, increasing her risk for cancer to 87%.

“I was always waiting for WHEN I would get cancer, not IF I would get cancer” said Cindy “It was only a matter of time.”

In January after discovering her BRCA status, she had a surgery to remove both of her ovaries. After surgery she had the recommended breast MRI screening, which showed an abnormality. Silver Cross physicians moved very quickly to perform a biopsy and diagnose the cancer. A few weeks later she underwent a double mastectomy. Her treatment was, and continues to be aggressive. Despite this, Cindy is hopeful. “I couldn’t have asked for a better team to take care of me. Everyone, from the nurses and staff to the physicians were phenomenal at Silver Cross,” says Cindy.

For Jan Gress, mother-in-law of Dr. Nicole Gress, the chance of breast cancer seemed slim. She was young, healthy, with no family history of the disease as well as she never missed her annual physical and mammogram each July. However, while Cindy was first learning of her extremely high risk of breast cancer, Jan discovered an odd lump in her underarm. Concerned, she immediately scheduled an appointment with her physician. Within a few days, she received a biopsy with Dr. Gamagami and the worst was true, Jan was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. She then had a lumpectomy and completed chemo and radiation therapy. She had her last radiation treatment the day after Cindy’s mastectomy.

“Initially, I would go on-line and get so scared reading the information I found. I felt so isolated in my diagnosis, and the more I read, the more scared I became.” says Jan. “You just have to deal with it day by day and you can survive.” For Jan, Cindy, and Nicole coming face to face with women who understood the journey and struggles of coping with breast cancer and all of its side effects, really helped guide them through the process.

“It was really important for me to guide my mother-in-law through her biopsy, and support my mom while she was having her hysterectomy,” says Nicole. “As a physician, I understood the clinical data, but the challenge was guiding them through the chemo and all of the side effects, that was something I couldn’t really explain, and something the Silver Cross Breast Cancer Support Group could do.”

About the Breast Cancer Support Group
I Can Cope, offered by the American Cancer Society and Silver Cross Hospital, is an educational program for women facing breast cancer. This program covers topics relevant to the cancer experience and offers practical help in coping with some of the emotional issues resulting from a cancer diagnosis. It is women supporting women, and meets the last Tuesday of each month at the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health from 7-9 p.m. For more information or to register to attend, visit or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).

About the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health 
The Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health represents a unique concept in women’s healthcare. The Center was the first in the region to provide an advanced level of diagnostics coupled with specialized care for women in one convenient location. The Center is located at 1870 Silver Cross Blvd. Set in a soothing, spa-like environment, the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health offers a variety of healthcare services designed around a woman’s needs and lifestyle. The Center’s crown jewel is full field digital mammography—the latest breast cancer testing available. In addition to digital mammography, the innovative center offers women diagnostic breast ultrasound and breast biopsies, bone densitometry, and baseline heart screenings. Take a video tour of the center at schedule an appointment at the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health, call (815) 740-7076. A physician’s order is required. If you don’t have a physician, call the free Silver Cross Physician Referral Service at 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).





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