Accident Turns Out To Be A Blessing in Disguise

July 23, 2015

MODESTO, Calif. – July 23 2015 – Things happen for a reason. Sandra Harris always believed that, but even more so after a gardening accident helped save her life.

The 68-year-old Modesto retiree was trimming trees when her hands slipped, causing a pair of heavy pruning sheers to fall on her chest. After the swelling went down a few days later, she noticed an abnormality on her breast.

It turned out to be stage 2 breast cancer. The tumor was nearly 4 centimeters.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 25,270 women in California will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. In the United States, the number of new cases is expected to be 231,840. The vast majority of cases are expected to be found in women older than 45.

In Harris’ case, discovered in March of 2014, she and her doctors decided she should take oral chemotherapy for several months to shrink the tumor before surgery. When she had surgery in January, she said her tumor was about 2.7 centimeters.

In March, she started six weeks of radiation therapy at the Modesto cancer treatment center Peter K. Sien MD, Inc., a 21st Century Oncology Affiliate, to ensure that no cancer cells remained.

“They were absolutely awesome,” she said. “They walked me through everything. I went in a week ahead and they gave me a guided tour to see the equipment and how it worked. They relaxed me and answered any questions I had.”

Her care was overseen by David Lowther, M.D., Board Certified Radiation Oncologist.

“He checked on me constantly,” Harris said. “We had a meeting once a week and he’d explain and check and make sure it was going ok.”

It’s important to make sure patients fully understand their condition and treatment, Dr. Lowther said, to ensure their experience is as stress free as possible.

“I treat each person as an individual, taking whatever time is needed to educate them on their diagnosis and treatment options,” he said. “I go out of my way to make them feel comfortable with our facility and our staff so that we can systematically eliminate any possible confusion and limit the sources of anxieties patients feel at this challenging time of their lives.”

For Harris, she found that maintaining her active lifestyle during treatment helped her cope.

“It does make you quite tired, and when I got tired, I would exercise,” she said. “Exercising helped.”

She also found comfort in her family and faith, embracing the love and prayers that were sent her way in her time of need. She also met a new member of her church congregation that she didn’t know before – the receptionist at Dr. Lowther’s office.

 Despite the health scare, Harris said she came away with a renewed appreciation for life. She encourages other women in her situation to stay positive. “Don’t give up,” she said. “All things are possible.”

For more information about our services, visit or call (209) 575-5870.

About 21st Century Oncology:

21st Century Oncology is the largest global, physician led provider of Integrated Cancer Care services. The company offers a comprehensive range of cancer treatment services, focused on delivering academic quality, cost-effective patient care in personal and convenient settings. As of March 31, 2015, the company operated 182 treatment centers, including 147 centers located in 17 states and 35 centers located in six countries in Latin America. The company holds market-leading positions in most of its domestic local markets and abroad.



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