By Michelle Rotuno-Johnson

The Marion Star

Friday, October 18, 2013

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is a scary experience, but a second opinion clinic offered by OhioHealth may give patients some peace of mind.

It certainly did for one Marion resident.

Three patients a week are admitted to the free clinic, held at the OhioHealth Bing Cancer Center. There they have an opportunity to have other professionals look at their case, after they receive a preliminary diagnosis.

Patients who sign up will have an entire day to meet with a breast surgeon, plastic surgeon, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, pathologist, genetic counselor, breast health nurse, breast cancer survivor and a fertility specialist if needed.

While the medical professionals review the case, the patient meets for lunch with survivors, and then will go back to discuss further options with doctors.

Pam Rudmose, breast health nurse and second opinion clinic coordinator, said people feel much more at ease after meeting with a team of doctors.

“Their anxiety is through the roof when they come in,” said Rudmose, who has been with the program since its inception in 1999.

She said Dr. Tom Sweeney, an oncologist, started the program after patients in a focus group asked for the opportunity to meet with several professionals at once.

There is no charge for the clinic. Rudmose said some physicians recommend the clinic, but that some patients just decide to sign up on their own.

“It’s a community service offered by OhioHealth,” Rudmose said. “We don’t want care being delayed because people have to go through their insurance companies or can’t afford it.”

Ann Concepcion, a Marion resident and a former employee of The Star, said the second opinion clinic helped her come to the decision to have a double mastectomy.

She found a lump in her left breast during a self exam.

A biopsy showed it to be cancerous — and there was something in her right breast that doctors at Riverside found and recommended it be removed.

It turned out to be cancerous.

“In my opinion, it was an amazing second opinion,” she said.

“If you can go and meet with all the doctors in one room and ask all the questions and have it be free, why not?” she said.

She hasn’t quite had the surgery scars for a year: her double mastectomy was Oct. 23, 2012. Friends are still helping her pay medical bills. Last week, Powell-based actor Kevin Farrell, who is best known, in drag, on YouTube, as Tupperware saleswoman Dee W. Ieye, called bingo at a fundraiser for Concepcion.

“It’s insanity,” Concepcion said of the community support. “It’s so humbling.”

Some of the money also goes to the American Cancer Society and to the Susan G. Komen Fund.

“I’ve grown up in Marion,” Concepcion said. “I had some insane support, more than I ever could imagine and ask for.”

People who have been diagnosed with cancer and want a second opinion can call OhioHealth’s second opinion clinic at 614-566-4321.

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