Most would say Lynn Roemeling is a friendly, familiar face at the Sanford Cancer Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
She’s a patient access representative, which is a position she’s held with pride for 13 years.
“I’ll be checking in patients, checking out patients, making their next appointments,” Roemeling told Sanford Health News. “We also send e-referrals to on-call doctors, taking phone calls, working with triage nurses and so on.
“It’s a lot of fun; I love my job.”
In June of 2020, her job and personal life came to a pause.
“I had a mammogram that showed up abnormal. I ended up getting a biopsy and found out I had breast cancer,” she recalled. “It was a whirlwind after that.”
From patient access rep to patient
That year, Roemeling became the patient and started her care journey at the Edith Sanford Breast Center with a triple-negative diagnosis, a rare type of breast cancer.
“It’s a scary thing for anybody to get that diagnosis,” she explained. “To be perfectly honest with you, I was waiting for the day for it to come really, because my family is – and has been – full of cancer.”
Roemeling’s grandmother and sister both had breast cancer so she had a feeling it was a battle she would eventually fight, too.
“It didn’t come as any big surprise to me but still, when you hear the diagnosis, it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, what’s going to happen now? Am I going to make it through this? How am I going to feel?’
“You’re just overwhelmed with emotions,” she said. “It’s very scary.”
Roemeling started treatment right away and eventually had a double mastectomy.
“My worst enemy was fatigue. It just totally drained me,” Roemeling said. “I missed everybody. I missed my patients. It was very, very scary but I knew that I was in the best place to go through this and man, you can’t have better support than I did.”
Comprehensive cancer care
That support at Sanford Health was her comprehensive care team which included her nurse navigator, oncologist, radiologist, surgeon, plastic surgeon, infusion team – and more – to personalize her journey with advanced training and technology.
“To have the doctors here with you and helping you through every minute just made it so much better,” she said. “I can’t say enough about this place.”
Beyond her own cancer, her family has seen a few diagnoses. The disease took both of her parents many years ago. Her oldest son was diagnosed with prostate cancer, her youngest son had Hodgkin’s lymphoma and her daughter died after her fight with colon and liver cancers.
Roemeling returned to work in February 2021. More than most, she understands the value of life and knows she’s right where she needs to be.
“I knew what cancer is like with my family, but until you go through it yourself, it’s not quite the same.”
She can relate to patients in a way she never knew possible.
“I love to come back and feel like I’m in the spot where I belong, just greeting these people, smiling, encouraging them to keep fighting, reminding them we have a great team here and if anyone can get through this, they can.”
She has an attitude of gratitude that resonates with cancer patients who walk through the door.
“We let them know, ‘Hey, you know what? You’re in a good spot. It’s going to be OK.’ I am just proud to be part of that,” she added.
Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in American women. 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, which is why annual screenings and breast awareness are key components to staying healthy.
Roemeling knew after her annual mammogram in 2020, she was in the right place at the right time.
“I think it was meant to be. I just can’t thank everybody enough here. Evidently, God wanted me on this earth a little longer to do what I’m doing and I’m glad that I can do it.”
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