Celebrating Resilience: Raquel's Remarkable Journey Through Breast Cancer Treatment

By: Renown Wellness Team

February 29, 2024

Raquel Fuentes at Wolf Pack basketball game

Raquel was 33 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

It was April 2023, when she found a lump in her breast and was referred to the William N. Pennington Cancer Institute. After comprehensive imaging, she was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma, which is a type of breast cancer that begins in the milk-producing glands of the breast.

Between June 2023 and January 2024, she received a total mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation at Renown Health.

“Breast cancer is uncommon in women under 40, but any woman with a mass or lump in her breast should have an exam by a physician and imaging at any age,” said Dr. Lee Schwartzberg.

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 9% of all new cases of breast cancer in the U.S. are found in women younger than 45.

“It was a pretty scary diagnosis, but I’ve been led by great people through the process,” she said. “They were so helpful and there for me throughout the chemo and radiation.”

Raquel's journey through breast cancer treatment at the William N. Pennington Cancer Institute was marked by the exceptional care provided by the Renown Health team, including nurses, nurse navigators, therapists, support teams and providers.

Among the dedicated professionals, Dr. Michelle Chu and Dr. Lee Schwartzberg played pivotal roles in Raquel's diagnosis and subsequent treatment plan. Their expertise, compassion and commitment to patient care left an indelible impact on Raquel's experience. Their thorough examination and comprehensive approach ensured that Racquel received the best possible care for her invasive lobular carcinoma.

In addition to the care provided at Renown, Raquel greatly benefitted from being connected with a mentor by Dr. Chu. This mentor, Kayla, had undergone a similar diagnosis and treatment plan, and at the same age Raquel. They texted and called each other throughout Raquel’s treatment, providing additional support through a challenging time.

As of January 2024, Raquel is done with her treatment and continues to see her care team for follow-up appointments. “I’m through the worst and ready to rebuild my life,” Raquel said.

To help celebrate this milestone, Nevada Athletics invited Raquel to receive the game ball at a Nevada Men’s Basketball game. She was joined on the basketball court for this special recognition by her husband, Raul; mother, Arlene; and two daughters, Ryleigh and Rhiannon. Racquel's journey is not only a testament to her resilience but also a tribute to the invaluable contributions of Dr. Chu and Dr. Schwartzberg in guiding her towards triumph over breast cancer.

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