When Karelyn Lotz was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2016, she put her years as a nurse midwife into practice by staying calm, cool, and collected. “The diagnosis was a surprise,” she says, “but I’m a nurse, so I wasn’t shocked.”
In fact, Mrs. Lotz has known many women with breast cancer, and she was encouraged by their treatment outcomes. These women include her niece and clients at Gerri’s Corner, a local resource center with free supplies for women with cancer, where she volunteers.
Lotz began treatment with Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) at Ackerman Cancer Center’s Amelia Island office in February 2016, and enjoyed her experience there. “The staff and doctors were incredible,” she says.
The former nurse tolerated radiation therapy well. She has always been independently minded, so when her friends offered to help her during treatment, she graciously declined, telling them to “quit hovering.”
Mrs. Lotz also applauds the patient services offered by Ackerman Cancer Center, including the Women’s Cancer Group, which started last month. The support program is offered in conjunction with the Pink Ribbon Ladies, an on-island non-profit organization, for patients and survivors with any female cancer. “I didn’t think I needed a support group,” she says. “But the women are so nice that I plan to keep going.”
Lotz is done with radiation treatment and doing well now. She will continue to take tamoxifen for the next five years, under the management of a hematology oncologist on Amelia Island.
When she completed treatment, Dr. Ackerman presented Mrs. Lotz with an Amelia Island Challenge Coin. The doctors at Ackerman Cancer Center give these to their patients who have finished treatment. A quote from Dr. Ackerman accompanies the coin: “We will never lose sight of you or your process of recovery.”
“Getting that coin was also a surprise,” the breast cancer survivor says. “It has such an attractive logo, and I love the beach on the back.” She went to a local jeweler and had her Challenge Coin mounted onto a necklace. “I’ll wear it when I go to meetings,” she adds.
Karelyn Lotz has resumed her volunteering at Gerri’s Corner, where she now uses her cancer treatment experience to educate customers. Sometimes cancer patients come to the shop just to talk and to get their questions answered. Now that Mrs. Lotz has been through cancer treatment, people like to ask her questions because “I know where they’re coming from. I know what they’re going through.”
She laughs. “It’s like a one-on-one support group.”