Lisa Campanella-Coppo is more than a SMG emergency medicine doctor. She is a friend, a mother, a wife, and a breast cancer survivor, and she is sharing her story to spread awareness, share advice, and inject hope into those who may be taken down the same unexpected path.
In November of 2018, Dr. Campanella-Coppo underwent a routine screening mammogram, and just a few days later, as she and her husband were headed out of town to hit the slopes for a “date day”, she received the diagnosis of invasive breast cancer. She cried all the way to their destination. “That was a terrifying, confusing moment,” she says. “Just one year earlier, there was zero evidence of breast cancer after my routine mammogram. Then you get the call, and it’s just surreal,” she adds.
After allowing the news to sink in, it was time to make the critical decision on where to go for care. Feeling awkward at the thought of her colleagues treating her, she made the decision to not be treated at SMG. Looking back, she realizes that the only people who should be at your side on such a journey are those who truly care about you, and for her, that would be her colleagues.
Fortunately, Dr. Campanella-Coppo’s breast cancer was treatable, and thankfully, the medical care she received was technically perfect. However, her treatment resulted in many physical and emotional complications and side effects that her care team (however brilliant and kind) was simply not equipped to deal with. Although she owes her life to the amazing group of doctors who treated her cancer, she is most grateful to her SMG friends and colleagues who truly cared for her as a person. “Being a provider within this Group has opened my eyes to what true care coordination is and should be,” she says. “When I could not find the resources, support, or compassion that I needed, I turned to my friends and colleagues at SMG for help,” she adds. “I’m incredibly grateful to Drs. Jadeja, Papish, Shindle, Turner, Cardamone and Zornitzer, who helped me manage the many complications of my treatment. I’m also so thankful to the UCC leadership team and staff for their compassion, support, and understanding.”
As Dr. Campanella-Coppo learned, all patients, even those who are normally the caregivers, need to feel supported throughout their cancer journey. “It’s important to be able to continue living while managing a diagnosis. We need treatment, but we also need help coping with side effects, the way the disease impacts our work, personal relationships, and the relationships we have with our bodies,” she states.
Dr. Campanella-Coppo’s advice for those newly diagnosed would be to not put your life on hold. “Do not sit around being sick while waiting to be healed. There are amazing treatment facilities, where the doctors, nurses, and entire team truly care about you as a person; where they will work around your schedule and comfort levels, not theirs. After my experience, I realize SMG is one of those places. Their care and organizational support is second to none, and I’d recommend my friends to them in a heartbeat.”
Most people diagnosed with breast cancer will never have a return of breast cancer. However, there is always risk of recurrence. Today, Dr. Campanella-Coppo is back to having the same risk of breast cancer returning as the general population. As she continues her journey here as a physician, she looks forward to becoming more involved with cancer care initiatives so that our patients can benefit from her experience.