Thoughts about an annual physical exam might fill some of us with reluctance, and we may come up with reasons to procrastinate. You might believe you are healthy and don’t need one. That’s what Consuelo Lopez thought.
Consuelo is a patient at WellMed at Weslaco in the Rio Grande Valley. Her daughter, Noemi Lopez, is regional manager of clinic operations in Harlingen, Texas. Noemi knows the benefits of an annual exam and regular screenings, and she had been trying to get her mom to take better care of her health.
Right after Consuelo joined WellMed in 2022, her PCP, Dr. David De La Llata, advised her to get an annual physical and several preventive screenings, including a mammogram. Consuelo resisted the suggestion at first. She had never had a mammogram, and she was nervous about the procedure. “She took quite a bit of convincing, but she finally agreed,” recalled Dr. De La Llata.
As fate would have it, the results weren’t what the family had hoped for, but the exam saved her life. After consulting with the radiologist, Dr. De La Llata sat the family down and gave Consuelo the unfortunate news: The mammogram detected a suspicious mass. Consuelo received the news calmly, whereas Noemi was visibly worried. She said, “My mom is very faithful, so I think her faith helps her to be so strong.” Luckily, they caught it in the early stages.
The next step was to schedule a biopsy with a surgeon, as the radiologist recommended.
A few weeks later, the surgeon performed the biopsy, removed the mass and sent it to the lab for analysis. The results confirmed a cancer diagnosis; thankfully, it turned out to be a common cancer that was not very aggressive. Dr. De La Llata and the oncologist concluded she did not need chemotherapy, but she did have to undergo six weeks of radiation therapy. In addition, the oncologist also prescribed medication designed to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells.
After completing her radiation therapy, it was as though a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. Consuelo cried when she rang the bell at the oncologist’s office to signify the successful end of her treatment. She also cried, prayed and thanked God when her family came together to celebrate the event.
Now, Consuelo’s cancer is in remission and she is cancer-free. Except for soreness in her arm, she feels better, has more energy and can resume normal daily activities like cooking and baking, two of her favorite pastimes. “She plans to bake some treats and bring them to the clinic to thank the team,” said Noemi.
Consuelo had a very positive experience with Dr. De La Llata and the other health care professionals who worked with her. Speaking in Spanish, she said the different teams coordinated her care very professionally and treated her with courtesy and respect. She added, “I really trust them, and I would definitely recommend them to my family and friends.”
Noemi’s initial fear has now turned to relief as she sees her mom doing well. “She still has some hurdles to overcome, but thankfully the toughest part is done,” said Noemi. “I am convinced that every preventive screening is a life that is saved. I will forever be grateful for our amazing WellMed family.”
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