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PATIENT STORIES

From Dark to Light

Olivia first came to BVMI back in 2014. During her initial screenings, our team of clinicians would try to ask about her personal life but Olivia was rather guarded. All Olivia would say was "life is hard but I'm making the most of it." However, Olivia was an extraordinarily compliant patient and would always come for her general appointments as well as her well-woman visits.

Then, in October 2015, BVMI's nurse practitioner, Mary Granholm, was conducting a physical exam and noticed a small lump in Olivia's breast. A few days later, Olivia had a mammogram, with a follow-up MRI and surgical consultation.

A few weeks later, the results were in: Olivia had Stage 2 breast cancer. Dr. Harold Bruck, a long-time BVMI volunteer and highly-esteemed breast surgeon, broke the news one afternoon here at BVMI.

Olivia was devastated. She cried on our exam room floor for hours. Mary and Vicky Fliman, BVMI's nurse navigator, stayed with her, comforting and consoling her. Besides being upset about the diagnosis, Olivia was worried about her adult daughter, who had been sexually abused as a child and depended on her for support.

"I can't have cancer! I have to be there for her, my baby girl," Olivia wailed. 

Olivia then confessed that she had been in an abusive relationship for many years. She’d finally kicked her partner out of the house but after hearing this news, all she wanted was for him to come home. 

Mary and Vicky were finally able to calm Olivia down and talk her through her options. Olivia left that day feeling empowered.  She has since beaten her cancer after undergoing surgery and chemotherapy.   Her partner has moved back in and has stopped drinking alcohol, which Olivia believes was the reason for the abuse. 

According to Vicky, Olivia is the happiest she has ever been and is able to be there to support her daughter.  What started as the worst day of her life was one of the most empowering - thanks to the team at BVMI.  
 

Olivia with BVMI Nurse Navigator,

Vicky Fliman