SJF Website_Cancer CareOne Mother's Journey_Laurena Ketzel-Kerber

Compassionate care helps mother through breast cancer

It was on Good Friday that Laurena Ketzel-Kerber received the call from her doctor confirming the lump she had discovered a few weeks earlier was cancerous. With her mother’s history of breast cancer, Laurena always knew she was at risk, but she was still shocked, and afraid, by the news.

But Ketzel-Kerber is tough. As a a wife, mother of three middle-schoolers and business owner, she was determined not to let anyone down. Instead, she set her mind on getting the best treatment possible to survive her diagnosis.

Ketzel-Kerber put her trust in the care of Albert Wendt, MD, medical oncologist specializing in breast cancer at The Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. She underwent advanced genetic counseling, and Dr. Wendt and his team created a personalized treatment plan for her. 

How common is breast cancer?

According to the latest data from the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States, except for skin cancers. It accounts for about 30% (or 1 in 3) of all new female cancers each year.

The American Cancer Society's estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2024 are:

  • About 310,720 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
  • About 56,500 new cases of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) will be diagnosed.  
  • About 42,250 women will die from breast cancer.

Breast cancer mainly occurs in middle-aged and older women. The median age at the time of breast cancer diagnosis is 62. This means half of the women who developed breast cancer are 62 years of age or younger when they are diagnosed.  A very small number of women diagnosed with breast cancer are younger than 45.

Full range of care for the diagnosis and treatment of breast diseases

The Cancer Center at St. Joseph’s offers a full range of care for the diagnosis and treatment of malignant and high-risk breast diseases. Wendt and his team are working hard to outsmart the disease—through research, clinical trials, cutting-edge technology and personalized treatments for every patient who walks through the door.

“I was treated with the most genuine compassionate care,” said Ketzel-Kerber, who is currently cancer-free after chemotherapy and surgery. “Every member of Dr. Wendt’s team cared for me like I was the single most important person they were treating. I will be forever grateful.”

“Laurena embodies the courage, conviction and strength women muster in this all-too-common circumstance,” said Dr. Wendt.  “She gives a face to the experience so many women must endure, validates our success to this point and compels us in our mission to cure and minimize the impact of breast cancer in our world.  There is still so much to do.”

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