Third time’s the charm for a cancer diagnosis

10/30/2023 - Rockford, Illinois

  • Janis Astle

    Janis Astle

  • Dr. Iftekhar Ahmad

    Dr. Iftekhar Ahmad

  • Dr. Alyssa Ceilesh

    Dr. Alyssa Ceilesh

Janis Astle Dr. Iftekhar Ahmad Dr. Alyssa Ceilesh

Janis Astle, 61, is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer at the Patricia D. Pepe Center for Cancer Care at OSF Saint Anthony in Rockford. Her journey to diagnosis, though, wasn’t an easy one.

“I felt a lump in my breast two years before my diagnosis this March,” Janis said. “I originally went to a health care system that was not OSF and all tests came back negative. The next year I went to a different provider and still had the lump. Those tests all came back negative, as well.”

Janis is the Emergency Department manager at Rochelle Community Hospital, so she knows a thing or two about health care. Still feeling that something was off with her body, she wasn’t giving up advocating for her health.

“At work, we had a new MRI machine and they needed employee volunteers to undergo an MRI scan to help set up the machine,” Janis said. “I, of course, volunteered because what would it hurt to have a scan that could potentially show any abnormalities I was experiencing. Sure enough, the scan showed up abnormal where the lump in my breast was.”

Janis decided to make an appointment at the triple-accredited cancer center at OSF. She underwent a biopsy and was confirmed to have breast cancer.

“We found that Janis had an invasive ductal carcinoma of the left breast that was estrogen receptor-positive,” said Iftekhar Ahmad, MD, medical director of oncology services at the Patricia D. Pepe Center for Cancer Care. “She underwent a mastectomy. During that, we found she had two lymph nodes positive for breast cancer.”

Janis also underwent radiation with Dr. Ahmad and hormonal therapy with Alyssa Ceilesh, DO, at OSF.

“Dr. Ahmad and Dr. Ceilesh are amazing,” Janis said. “I can’t say enough about the fantastic care you receive at OSF. All the staff go above and beyond. When you walk in the doors and look lost, someone asks how they can help, and they escort you where you need to be. I was in great hands for my cancer treatment at OSF.”

Janis’ lump in her breast was not recognized in a mammogram or ultrasound. While it’s rare, it’s not uncommon for that to happen. Long story short, advocate for your health.

“Janis’ type of breast cancer is very common,” Dr. Ceilesh said. “The best way to detect cancer in women is by getting a mammogram every year starting at age 40.”

“We also recommend you do your own breast exams in between your routine mammogram,” Dr. Ahmad said. “Ultimately you know your body best, and if you feel something is wrong, communicate that to your doctor.”

“If I wasn’t persistent with seeking treatment, I could have waited another whole year for my next mammogram and who knows how the cancer could have spread by that time,” Janis said. “Sometimes these things don’t show up on our routine scans. You must advocate for yourself if you feel something is wrong. I am so glad I did, and I am even more grateful that I chose OSF HealthCare.”


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