Patient Profile: Trust Your Doctor

Lynn Killingbeck, UConn Health patient.
Lynn Killingbeck, UConn Health patient.

Lynn Killingbeck, age 64, of South Windsor went for her usual annual mammogram at a local imaging center near her home. A few days later, she was asked to return for another mammogram and ultrasound as a follow-up. She returned for the additional tests, and after being given a clean bill of breast health, “I walked out feeling good,” she recalls.

But less than two weeks after her clear mammogram and ultrasound results, her UConn Health primary care physician Dr. Elizabeth Appel surprisingly found a suspicious breast lump during Killingbeck’s annual physical exam.

Since Killingbeck had just had the follow-up screenings, she queried her doctor, “Do I really need to go for a follow-up?”

Appel was adamant that Killingbeck get the lump checked out as soon as possible by the breast team at UConn Health’s Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“I went to see the UConn Health breast team for an exam and within minutes I was having a mammogram and follow-up ultrasound,” said Killingbeck. She was also scheduled for a biopsy. “I then knew this lump was going to be a serious issue.”

“I was told that I had breast cancer,” said Killingbeck. “It was a shock. It was really hard to believe that I had cancer,” she says, given her family has no history of the disease.

“Dr. Appel at UConn Health saved my life! Had it not been for her finding the lump and urging me to get it double-checked, I really would have waited a year until my next annual mammogram,” said Killingbeck.“I really just don’t know what a difference a year would have made.”

Following lumpectomy surgery, Killingbeck had genomic testing of her tumor, which led her Health cancer specialists to prescribe follow-up chemotherapy and radiation – and five years of hormonal therapy with the medication Anastrozole to prevent a recurrence.

“Everything happened so quickly from my primary care doctor’s office finding my lump to my follow-up imaging testing with UConn Health’s breast team and my surgery. It was quite a team effort.”

“My message to other women is always trust your doctor,” says Killingbeck. “Thankfully, I am okay now. I am feeling pretty good.”

Killingbeck added: “It was a wonderful care experience with UConn Health. Honestly, I had never been to UConn Health before beyond my primary care doctor’s office. But, now, I will always go to UConn Health for my care… from now on.”

In an effort to support others and families who have also been affected by breast cancer, Killingbeck formed a team for the annual American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. The Red Hot Chili Steppers will participate in the event being held in Hartford on Oct. 28.