Dionne Parmer describes her 5-year-old daughter, Brionna, as her sidekick – her “Mini-Me.” The mother-daughter bond is evident when you see them together. That bond is strengthened even more by the fact that Brionna is Dionne’s only daughter – the youngest of her five children.
Dionne wants to be there for all of the milestones that Brionna will reach as she grows from child to teenager to adult (her four sons range in age from 18 to 24).
At age 42, in early 2012, Dionne scheduled her first mammogram. The result showed an unusual finding. Though “instantly scared,” she scheduled a follow-up mammogram, which confirmed a finding of breast cancer.
Upon hearing a diagnosis of breast cancer, Dionne shed a few tears and set about to fight the disease.
“You think about your family and children,” she says. “I wasn’t ready to leave; I knew what I needed to do to live longer.”
Because Dionne took the initiative and scheduled a mammogram, the cancer was caught in an early stage. “Catch it early, you can live longer,” she emphasizes. “I never realized how much it matters.”
Surgery was scheduled at Summa Barberton Hospital’s Parkview Center, where Dionne says she had a lot of support.
Support began with Dionne’s surgeon, Lee Anne Sprance, M.D., FACS, medical director of the Breast Care Program for Summa Barberton Hospital, who provided a very personal approach when discussing her care. She walked Dionne through each step of the treatment process – surgery, where a small tumor was removed, followed by chemotherapy and radiation.
“Dr. Sprance was very thorough in explaining the process and that I would have to be available for treatment for the next five years,” Dionne points out. “She wanted to make sure I stayed on top of my treatment plan.”
Dionne also saw a type of personal care in her relationship with nurse navigator Kari Kovach, BSN, RN, OCN, CBCN, , whose job is to provide a warm relationship of support and coordination of care for patients.
“Kari held my hand through my treatments,” Dionne says. “She was warm and comforting, always calling to ask if there was anything I needed – medical or personal.”
Two years after surgery, Dionne continues to keep her appointments with Dr. Sprance, and her oncologist and radiation oncologist. She feels good and maintains an optimistic outlook. She knows that staying healthy is her most important task. Her daughter is a constant reminder of that task.
“I have a purpose; I have stuff to do,” Dionne stresses. “I’ve had my time with my older children. I want to be a part of Brionna’s future.”