Kirchner’s journey began in December 2016 when she was diagnosed with malignant neoplasm of the breast. She was stage 2, meaning the cancer was growing but had yet to spread to other areas of her body.
Dr. Craig Brackett, medical director of the Tidelands Health breast health program, gave her the news.
“He said, ‘It is cancer.’ And I had cold chills, and I started to cry and everything,” Kirchner says. ”He said, ‘Andrea, you are in good hands. Nothing will happen to you.’”
Kirchner began her first round of chemotherapy with Dr. Sara Adams, a leading oncologist with Tidelands Health Oncology, on Jan. 13, 2017.
Chemotherapy is used to treat cancer by preventing cancer cells from dividing and growing. The treatment helps save lives, but it can also have side effects, so physicians must closely monitor their patients.
“When I was getting the treatment, Dr. Adams kept asking me, ‘Are you having any tingling in your hands, or your feet?’” Kirchner says. “I said, ‘No, not right now. I’m not having that.’ I could walk fine, absolutely fine and everything.”
Dr. Adams was concerned about the possibility Kirchner might develop a common side effect of chemotherapy called peripheral neuropathy, Dr. Adams says. Symptoms can occur suddenly or build with each ongoing chemotherapy treatment, which is why the team at Tidelands Health closely monitors patients as they continue through the chemotherapy treatment process.
“Chemotherapy is an effective way to kill cancer cells, but it presents an inherent risk of side effects,” Dr. Adams says. “Some of those side effects are mild, but in other cases they can be more serious.
“That’s why one of our top priorities is to maintain an open line of communication with our patients so that we can respond promptly to any concerns that may arise.”