Healing by Design
When patients and visitors first walk through the Health and Wellness Pavilion at Orange Coast Medical Center, they are greeted by an indoor waterfall, fine art and calming colors – part of the collaborative vision of former breast cancer patient, artist and interior designer, Marcia del Toro.
She meditated daily, ate well and had no family history of cancer, so at age 40, when Marcia discovered a tiny lump in her breast, she was in shock. Marcia – who was visiting her other home in San Diego from Hawaii and supporting a close friend that had recently been treated for breast cancer – knew what to do. She scheduled a mammogram the following morning and, when the results showed an abnormality, she underwent a biopsy the day after that. The result came back positive for cancer.
Though she was living in Hawaii at the time, the close friend she was supporting with breast cancer referred Marcia to Richard Reitherman, M.D., medical director of breast imaging at the MemorialCare Breast Center at Orange Coast Medical Center.
Dr. Reitherman conducted additional tests and soon called her with more devastating news: not only was the lump malignant, but it had already metastasized, spreading cancer into other parts of her body.
According to the American College of Radiology®, annual mammograms have helped reduce breast cancer mortality in the U.S. by 40 percent since 1990.
“Learning that the cancer had metastasized was worse than the cancer diagnosis itself,” says Marcia, “Because at that point, you don’t know where it’s going.”
Dr. Reitherman; Jane Kakkis, M.D., medical director of breast surgery; and the rest of the multidisciplinary Tumor Board developed an aggressive treatment plan for Marcia that included five months of chemotherapy, a mastectomy with breast reconstruction, and six weeks of radiation therapy.
“I’m neither a hero nor a victim. I’m just resilient,” says Marcia. “There were a lot of ups and downs, but I did what I had to do. With cancer behind me, I had to move on.”
Moving forward, giving back
Marcia has a background in real estate with a signature talent and eye for interior design. With renewed spirit, she immersed herself back into her passion for design and art. But this time, her passion came with a higher purpose.
“Cancer sent me on a path toward personal growth,” says Marcia, “I’ve always been a spiritual person, but through this journey, I developed a higher awareness of my life and the direction I wanted it to go. Philanthropic work became an even more integral part of who I am today.”
During one of Marcia’s checkups, Dr. Reitherman mentioned that he planned to remodel the Breast Center. That’s when Marcia jumped at the chance to help.
“Dr. Reitherman went above and beyond to help me feel at peace throughout my cancer journey, so I was eager to give back in any way I could,” says Marcia, “I told him to give me a budget and resources, and I would donate my time and expertise.”
After completing the Breast Center, she was invited to help out with other interior design projects. In just the last few years, she’s brought her calming aesthetic to many of Orange Coast Medical Center’s high-profile projects: the new Postpartum Unit, the Health and Wellness Pavilion, the Emergency Department expansion, and one of the MemorialCare Breast Centers.
“The Breast Center was a special project for me,” says Marcia, “I wanted to create a space that was calming for women, because I know firsthand just how scary breast cancer can be.”
Her spaces are modern, warm, welcoming and interesting. She combines natural elements – like the preserved moss wall inside the Health and Wellness Pavilion – with extensive artwork, including sculptures, murals, and wall art in a variety of mediums. Sometimes the artwork serves as a distraction; other times, it serves as a message.
“When I was going through chemotherapy, I envisioned butterflies lifting the cancer from my body,” says Marcia. “That came back to me when I was designing the Postpartum Unit. I installed a custom-made, eight-foot butterfly sculpture on the wall to remind women that they will emerge as vibrant and beautiful as ever.”
Marcia del Toro revisits a breast center whose interior she recently designed.
Orange Coast Medical Center
MemorialCare Breast Center at
The MemorialCare Breast Center at Orange Coast Medical Center is known for its state-of-the-art technology and outstanding multidisciplinary care.
Honored with the American College of Radiology’s Breast Imaging Center of Excellence designation since 2011, the Center offers leading-edge 3D mammography, recommended for women with dense breast tissue, and every mammogram is interpreted by a radiologist who specializes in breast imaging. High-quality breast ultrasounds, breast MRIs and biopsies are also available on-site for accurate diagnosis.
In addition to diagnostic imaging, the Center also provides genetic counseling. Services include a personal and family history review, risk assessment, genetic testing recommendations, and personalized options for screening and prevention.
Earns ACR Accreditation
for all Modalities
The American College of Radiology® (ACR) recently added a prestigious new designation to its list of facility accreditations. The new designation – Diagnostic Imaging Center of Excellence (DIOCE) – recognizes facilities with the highest level of imaging quality, safety, and patient care in the nation.
The MemorialCare Imaging Center at Orange Coast Medical Center is now one of just two Orange County facilities to advance through the rigorous DIOCE application process to meet a fundamental requirement – earning ACR’s three-year term of accreditation for Comprehensive Imaging Modalities. The modalities include positron emission tomography (PET), computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
“Patients who come to us for their imaging can do so knowing the benefits we provide,” says Richard Wasley, M.D., medical director of the MemorialCare Imaging Center at Orange Coast. “We invest in top-quality technology, employ excellent technicians and optimize our procedures. We adhere to the highest national standards and provide every single patient with the best possible image at the lowest possible radiation dose risk.”