Kimberlee Quinlan of Tallahassee will always remember January 26, 2013. That Thursday afternoon, she was saddling up her beloved horse Poppe’ when he got spooked and bolted. Later that same day, Kimberlee learned that she had breast cancer.
After an intensive search, Poppe’ was found two days later at the St. Marks River. The following Monday, Kimberlee began her cancer treatment with a lumpectomy performed by General Surgeon Al Deeb, MD, at Capital Regional Medical Center. “I was so happy that we found Poppeʹ before I had my surgery,” she says.
Kimberlee’s cancer journey began in late December when she had her annual exam. Her nurse practitioner could still feel a small lump in her right breast that had previously been checked out and determined as benign. This time around, however, a diagnostic mammogram revealed the lump was suspicious for cancer. It was followed by a biopsy that confirmed it was malignant. “I’ve had lots of different surgeries including open heart surgery and a partial knee replacement, but I never thought I would have cancer,” she says. “It doesn’t run in my family.” Fortunately, it was caught early and was stage one breast cancer.
After her surgery, Kimberlee began radiation therapy at Capital Regional Cancer Center under the direction of Timothy Bolek, MD, a board-certified radiation oncologist. She says her experience with the Cancer Center staff was very pleasant. “You couldn’t ask for sweeter, kinder people than Dutch Alberto, DeDe Joyner and Matt Rogers, who are the radiation therapists.
“I couldn’t have been more at ease with the team at the Cancer Center. Even though I know it’s their job, I was so impressed with how concerned they were for me. They are wonderful people and so warm-hearted, I felt like they were my personal friends. Even though my treatment there is complete, I still go back and visit.”
One of Kimberlee’s concerns was being able to keep up her active lifestyle during cancer treatment. “They seemed a little hesitant at first, but when they found out how active I was, they told me they were all for it as long as I didn’t overexert myself,” she says. “And the radiation didn’t stop me. I was still able to horse-back ride, swim, bike and go to the gym.”
Kimberlee finished radiation treatment in May and life is pretty much back to normal, although she has periodic appointments with Amer Rassam, MD, a board-certified hematology oncologist. Dr. Rassam has her on a medication regimen to treat a second type of pre-cancerous tissue that was found during her biopsy.
Kimberlee’s advice to others facing a cancer journey is to try and keep a positive attitude. “I believe that everything happens for a reason, and you have to be as optimistic as you can. Just think of it as another chapter in your life,” she says.