CINCINNATI — When Dr. Beth Shaughnessy, a UC Health breast cancer surgeon, found out that she had cancer, she used her diagnosis as an opportunity to share her path toward recovery and shed some light for others who might find themselves in the same situation.
It was a “role reversal” chronicled in print at UC Health.
After she learned the lump she felt in the shower in January 2019 was indeed malignant, she made sure to capture her response to the diagnosis every step of the way.
“I saw so many patients who were scared to death, and I wanted to show them it wasn’t so bad,” Shaughnessy said.
So, she chronicled her cancer journey in pictures.
Wearing her “warrior chick” socks into surgery.
Ringing the gong after her last treatment.
Though the journey was hers, she didn’t do it alone. Family and friends walked with her.
That includes Doctors Chantal Reyna and Jamie Lewis, both of whom practice medicine with Shaughnessy. She chose them to do her bilateral mastectomy.
“And the funny thing is, she kind of took care of us in doing it – she knew it was gonna be a challenge for us,” Lewis said.
They made an operating room playlist and did something for Shaughnessy that she always does for her own patients.
“As I was going under, each one held one of my hands,” Shaughnessy said.
Like other cancer survivors, she looked for inspiration wherever she could find it. In this case, Shaughnessy just had to look down.
She found socks with messages like “I AM AMAZING,” “STRONG,” “GRATEFUL,” and “COURAGEOUS.” And her favorite, “I have hope.”
That’s her wish for patients who are in the midst of their own cancer fights.
“Take a deep breath and count your blessings,” Shaughnessy said. “You found it. You have everything in your power to move forward.”
Following surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, she said the experiences have allowed her to fully appreciate what her patients are going through and reassure them that they can get better.