The Gazette is partnering with title sponsor Penrose-St. Francis Breast Care Center and ribbon sponsor Peak Vista Community Health Centers to bring you inspiring stories of local breast cancer survivors and a behind-the-scenes look at the care process from physicians, surgeons, nurses and volunteers throughout October.
At her first mammogram, Kelli Jensen was alarmed to hear that doctors had discovered an aggressive form of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in her breast tissue. “There was no mass, so without the mammogram, we would have never found it,” she said.
One of the most common forms of breast cancer, DCIS starts developing in the breast’s milk ducts, and while it’s not life threatening, DCIS increases a person’s risk of developing invasive breast cancer.
When Jensen learned she was HER2-positive and the cancer was estrogen-fed, she chose to undergo a bilateral mastectomy and full hysterectomy at age 40, followed by chemotherapy.
Living in Eads gave the mother of two limited treatment options. “My doctor immediately referred me to Penrose-St. Francis Health Services,” she said. “We have nothing like that out here, so even though it was two hours away, it was well worth it for the outstanding care I received.” Penrose Cancer Center is part of the Centura Health Cancer Network, delivering advanced, integrated cancer care across Colorado and western Kansas.
Jensen has completed six sessions of chemotherapy, with her last treatment scheduled for November 3. Each time she made the trip to Colorado Springs for treatment, she was accompanied by either her husband or her mom, and they were grateful for the benefit of staying at the John Zay Guest House, 2131 N Tejon Sreet. Providing a "home away from home" for Penrose-St. Francis patients who live 30 miles or more away, the home is conveniently located across from Penrose Hospital.
Jensen underwent three separate surgeries to accomplish the necessary treatment plan, but was thankful her doctors were able to coordinate with each other and complete all the surgeries in one day. “Everyone worked together to create as little inconvenience as possible to me and my family,” she said. “I was able to go home the next day and only had to miss three days of work.”