Counsel and hope for breast cancer patients

Categories: Donor Stories

May 2006.  The changes Madonna Sacco experienced that month remain all too fresh.  In the seconds taken to speak a few words, Madonna’s life shifted from lawyer providing legal counsel, to breast cancer patient in need of medical counsel.

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“I represented Bridgeport Hospital and its physicians for 25 years before I was ever a patient,” said Madonna, a partner at the Bridgeport law offices of Heidell, Pittoni, Murphy & Bach (HPM&B).  That role changed with her diagnosis of breast cancer.  “But with the support and experience of the Norma Pfriem Breast Center staff, I stayed hopeful from beginning to end.”

Her surgeon, Dr. Mary Pronovost, medical director of the Breast Center, recommended a mastectomy.  Madonna also consulted with Dr. Anke Ott-Young, the center’s oncology plastic surgeon, about breast reconstruction. “Dr. Ott-Young had just pioneered a new form of reconstruction done during the mastectomy, with excellent cosmetic results,” she explained.

Three months of chemotherapy followed and life began returning to normal, until conversations with distant relatives in early 2007 revealed a family history of breast cancer.

Dr. Neal Fishbach, the Breast Center oncologist who administered Madonna’s chemotherapy, suggested testing for the BRCA gene, which can be linked to hereditary breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Tests came back positive.

“I had the BRCA gene, so I chose a prophylactic mastectomy and hysterectomy to reduce my risk of developing further breast and ovarian cancer.” Madonna’s BRCA test also led her sister to have genetic testing – with the same results and preventive surgery.

Now, almost nine years later, “I am cancer free,” said Madonna. But the positive attitude Madonna maintained throughout her treatment did not end there. It led to her role as an active Breast Center supporter.

“As a lawyer representing the hospital or its medical staff, I’ve always known the excellent care provided at Bridgeport Hospital. But once I was a patient at the Breast Center, I became even more dedicated to supporting their excellent care, especially at the Breast Center.”

In addition to a private fundraiser by her law firm following her treatment, Madonna and HPM&B sponsor the Breast Center’s annual Rose of Hope luncheon, one of many places Madonna shared her story. “I’ve also spoken for the Breast Center elsewhere, one-on-one with patients, even to my co-workers affected by breast cancer,” said Madonna. “Wherever I can help, I do.”

Those close to Madonna know well that can-do attitude. It permeates everything she does – from medical community legal counsel to breast cancer patient seeking her own medical counsel and now advocate for Breast Center patients in need of encouragement and hope.

Those close to Madonna know well that can-do attitude. It permeates everything she does – from medical community legal counsel to breast cancer patient seeking her own medical counsel and now advocate for Breast Center patients in need of encouragement and hope.