MID-CITY ‚Äî Nicole von Riesen, 43, didn‚Äôt want to wait a month for her MRI.
She didn‚Äôt even really want to wait another hour.
At the end of May, von Riesen went in for a regular mammogram. Then another. Then a biopsy. After that, the doctors scheduled a MRI ‚Äî for June, maybe July.
“My heart sank,” she said.
Von Riesen decided to reach out to the UCLA Breast Center Santa Monica. They got her in the next week, she said.
“Everyone pulled together and that was basically a lifesaver,” she said.
Von Riesen had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and would spend the next few months working with a team of doctors to undergo surgery, breast reconstruction and chemotherapy.
Every Wednesday morning, the team of doctors working at the Breast Center huddles together in a conference room crowded with chairs in the back of the 16th Street clinic.
The team of nine, plus patient navigator Robyn Dvorak, will see five to seven new breast cancer patients every week at what co-director Dr. Amy Kusske terms the “multi-clinic.”
“The patient‚Äôs images are reviewed, their pathology reviewed, everybody gets to hear collectively what‚Äôs going on with their patient and then come up with the best plan,” she said.
As von Riesen met with the string of specialists on her Wednesday not too long ago, she said she appreciated hearing the information all at once, rather than having to make different appointments with different doctors.
“It‚Äôs not the ‚ÄòC‚Äô word, it‚Äôs not the death sentence,” she said. “By the time you leave you get a good picture and it feels somehow more manageable.”
Patients come to the center looking for second opinions, Kusske said, but they also see new patients who like the team approach, or people already in the UCLA health system.
“It‚Äôs stressful enough just processing the fact you have cancer,” von Riesen said. “But if I had to go around and find a different person for every thing it would be very overwhelming.”
Von Riesen‚Äôs mother was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago, she said, and had a harder time coordinating her treatment. Von Riesen is still paddle boarding and running marathons; last week, she completed her fourth chemotherapy treatment of six.
“As the patient you don‚Äôt really know how to drive the boat,” she said. “I have the chance to take some time, figure out what I want to do now.”
For more information about the UCLA Breast Center Santa Monica, visit¬†http://breastcenter.ucla.edu¬†or call (424) 259-8791. The center is located at 1223 16th St., Suite 1100.