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The Heroes Project 2018: Trish

Meet Trish Lowrie—a newly enrolled college student, a mother to three spunky children and a wife to a husband that she thinks is pretty incredible.

She is also a breast cancer survivor.

That last one is something she never expected to be, but from the moment she found out she had cancer, she was determined to not let it define her.

In April 2016, after celebrating her 15th wedding anniversary, Trish scheduled her yearly mammogram at Gwinnett Medical Center’s GMC Imaging Center-Hamilton Mill for what she thought was a routine screening. But, after hearing things like “let me look a little more closely” and “extra images,” she knew it was anything but routine.

A few days later, she found out what they saw—two tumors in her breast and a suspect lymph node. She needed dreaded biopsies.

“I’d heard so many stories about the pain, so I was not excited,” she says. “But Dr. Kimberly Hutcherson was amazing. She put me at ease instantly, and honestly, I almost fell asleep during the procedures.”

On May 18, Trish received the call from her OB/GYN—it was cancer. Trish was diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer—an aggressive cancer that responds well to targeted treatment. She first met with a breast surgeon who recommended GMC Center for Cancer Care for chemotherapy which was started only three weeks after her diagnosis while waiting until October for surgery.

“When I called to get my first appointment, I was scheduled with Dr. Krishnamachary—affectionately known as Dr. K,” adds Trish. “And he was exactly what I needed. In fact, he told me that day—and throughout my treatment—that he wasn’t going to be a part of my life, just a speed bump. The treatment would be rough, but my prognosis was great.”

“I didn’t know how I would take this,” adds Trish. “I thought I’d be a crying, whiney mess. But I was able to fight this with strength, humor, grace and faith. I’m proud of myself. I just put my head down and weathered the storm.”

To Dr. K., Trish’s unfailing positivity impacted everyone around her. “She inspired me!” he says.

Throughout her chemotherapy, Trish said that she was treated like family. From the front office and the lab technicians, to the nurses and Dr.K, everyone was upbeat and positive. Even on her worst days, they lifted her spirits, including the time she showed up four hours early by accident. She was embarrassed, but Dr. K told her, “this is your clinic, we are here for you,” and worked her in.

The compassionate care she received was unlike any she had experienced, and it was a breath of fresh air at a time when she desperately needed to breathe.

“They treated me like a person, like Trish, not a breast cancer patient, and it was so great,” she says.

One of the ways GMC Center for Cancer Care provided this level of care for Trish was by offering a variety of support groups and classes. One of those classes that Trish recommends to anyone in her situation is called Look Good Feel Better, which helps women in active treatment cope with the appearance-related side effects of cancer.

After six rigorous rounds of chemotherapy, Trish was officially finished with treatment on June 20, 2017, and declared cancer free. But, her cancer story doesn’t end there.

Before her diagnosis, Trish, a licensed massage therapist for 26 years, had been discussing a career change with her husband. During one of her infusion sessions, she told her husband she knew what career she wanted to pursue—oncology nursing.

“I watched my nurses and knew that I wanted to do for others what they had done for me,” says Trish. “And true to form, they all supported and encouraged me to do it, including Dr. K.”

This past winter, Trish started classes at the University of North Georgia and is looking to apply to nursing schools in the next few months. And though Dr. K promised he wouldn’t be a permanent part of her life, there’s a chance that may not be the case—Trish’s goal is to someday soon work in Dr. K’s office along side the same people who helped her fight and win her battle with cancer.

When it’s her time, Trish knows she’ll have unique empathy and insights to share. “Allow yourself the pity parties,” she advises.  “Be angry. Be sad. Feel those feelings… and then get out of it. You can get through anything.”