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Reasons to smile: Danville mom has new lease on life for 2022

Things still feel crazy with constant changes in the world of COVID-19. But on dark days, there are still bright spots. We highlight one in this Reasons to Smile.

DANVILLE, Pa. — While a lot of us feel like 2022 still looks and feels like 2020, people in our area who have gone through life-changing challenges see it differently.

That includes Rebecca Dressler, a mother of three from central PA.

"It's a new start—a new year. The past couple of years, years have been hard on a lot of people. This year, for me personally, going through my breast cancer treatment, it's given me a new perspective. So new year, new perspective, new me," said Rebecca. "I work full time. I have three children at home. It just gave me a greater appreciation, and it just allowed me to be the best version of me that I could be."

But just getting to this grand awakening of sorts in 2022 for Rebecca Dressler of Danville came with the scare of her life last February.

"I found a lump in my left breast," said Rebecca. "The mass in my breast was malignant.”

"It didn't seem fair that in the middle of a pandemic, we'd have to have patients like that could be told they had breast cancer," said Dr. Victor Vogel.

But lucky for Rebecca,  one of the doctors in her corner was Dr. Vogel, a physician specializing in breast cancer at Geisinger.

"Becca's cancer was more aggressive. It's the kind that we call triple negative. And what the grade means is grade is how ugly, how nasty do the cancer cells look to the pathologist under the microscope? And grade one cancer cells don't look so bad. Grade two looks a little more angry. But grade three cancer cells look very angry and very aggressive," explained Dr. Vogel. "In the past, as recently as ten or 15 years ago, about the time I came to Geisinger, we didn't have very good treatment for triple-negative breast cancer. But over the past decade, we've developed very aggressive treatment for a very aggressive form of breast cancer."

Becca ended up receiving months of chemotherapy last year and all sorts of drugs to shrink her tumor.

"Which makes the job of the surgeon easier. A golf ball-sized tumor disappeared. Her lymph nodes were negative. And that means that we probably did cure her breast cancer," added Dr. Vogel.

A prognosis that’s given this mother of three from Danville a new lease on life for 2022 and plenty of reasons to smile.

"It's a privilege to grow older. Don't take anything for granted because you don't know when it could change in an instant," said Rebecca.

Rebecca and Dr. Vogel wanted to get across one other big point: if you notice something on your body or with your health that’s different, don’t wait to talk with your doctor about it.

Even with everything going on in the pandemic, many clinics and healthcare providers are offering virtual appointments if you feel safer that way and office visits.

The bottom line is: just don't wait.

For more health-related stories from WNEP, check out our Healthwatch 16 reports on Youtube.