Jenny Mendola fights breast cancer with the help of Orange Coast Medical Center’s team.
From Caregiver to Cancer Survivor
Jenny Mendola had been clinical director of oncology services at the MemorialCare Cancer Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center for five years when, on Sunday, March 31, 2019, she assumed a critical new role – patient.
She noticed a dimpling on her right breast, and a subsequent self-exam revealed a small lump. Knowing these were symptoms of breast cancer, Jenny scheduled a next-day appointment at the MemorialCare Breast Center.
Just one day after Jenny had completed a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy at the Breast Center, Richard Reitherman, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of breast imaging at the MemorialCare Breast Centers at Orange Coast Medical Center and in Huntington Beach, delivered her diagnosis: invasive ductal carcinoma. As the most common type of breast cancer, it accounts for 75 percent of cases.
Though a cancer diagnosis can be daunting, Jenny knew she was in good hands. Her case, like all patients diagnosed with cancer, was brought to Orange Coast Medical Center’s Tumor Board for review. The multidisciplinary team of experts meets on a weekly basis to discuss all cases individually and modify or develop treatment plans. Every patient benefits from the extensive knowledge and broad expertise of the entire team.
Jenny’s plan, which included surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and long-term hormone therapy, was laid out pending further diagnostic tests: blood work, a bone scan, a computed tomography (CT) scan and a breast magnetic resonance image (MRI).
“We have a dedicated Breast Center and breast program with a very high level of experience. Every step – from diagnosis through treatment and follow-up – is synchronized, methodical and efficient,” says Jack Jacoub, M.D., medical director of the MemorialCare Cancer Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center.
Navigating a familiar road
Although Jenny knew her way around Orange Coast Medical Center and the treatment process, she was still paired with a breast cancer navigator. Patient navigators offer support throughout the entire cancer journey from diagnosis to treatment, assisting with scheduling, education, insurance and even reassurance, as needed.
All oncology services are located on the Orange Coast Medical Center campus, providing high-quality, comprehensive care in an easy-to-manage environment that’s close to home and family.
Jenny had two tumors in her right breast and the cancer appeared to be aggressive, so on April 23, she underwent a right-side mastectomy. As soon as her breast surgeon, Jane Kakkis, M.D., medical director of breast surgery at Orange Coast Medical Center, completed the procedure, a plastic surgeon implanted a tissue expander to prepare her for eventual reconstructive surgery. Prior to reconstruction, she still faced three and a half months of chemotherapy, 33 days of radiation therapy, and a period of recovery.
Now, after treatment and with her cancer in remission, Jenny’s work as clinical director of oncology services is even more meaningful. While always compassionate about the care her patients received, Jenny’s own cancer journey allows her to share her experience and connect with patients on a deeper level, offering her personal recommendations for education and support offerings. Her message to every woman: “Don’t delay care or important routine screenings like your mammogram. Detecting any cancer early on significantly improves your chance of survival. It’s essential to take care of yourself.”
To learn more about breast care at Orange Coast Medical Center, visit memorialcare.org/OCBreast.
With her cancer in remission, Jenny is back to doing things she loves.
New Breast Center
Opens in Huntington Beach
MemorialCare is opening a new Breast Center in Huntington Beach – adding one more convenient location for women to receive high-quality breast care. Led by the expertise of Richard Reitherman, M.D., Ph.D., with over 20 years of experience, the new Center gives women convenient, local access to the multidisciplinary expertise of the MemorialCare Breast Centers.
“The imaging doctors and technicians at our Centers are dedicated to breast care and have a very high accuracy rate,” says Jane Kakkis, M.D. “They’re also kind and compassionate people, so all our patients receive the highest level of care and support. That’s an exceptional combination.”
The Center is furnished with state-of-the-art imaging equipment for 2D and 3D mammography, ultrasound and biopsies. Extra safety measures have been introduced to all of MemorialCare offices and centers like frequent disinfecting, social distancing, requiring face masks and COVID-19 screenings.
“We encourage women to continue to have regular breast cancer screenings even during the pandemic,” says Dr. Reitherman. “Cancer doesn’t take a break and a delay in diagnosis can have a negative impact on the outcome of treatment.”
MemorialCare Breast Center
in Newport Beach Is Now Open
Did you know we have a new MemorialCare Breast Center in Newport Beach?
Our new location offers convenient services so our patients can get the healthcare they need:
Easy, accessible, free parking
Furnished with the latest technology, like 3D mammography
Expert, breast-dedicated radiologists
Additional measures have been set in place, such as screening for symptoms, increased disinfecting and requiring face masks, to make sure our patients are safe.