At age 44, Colette Haverfield-Fleury was facing the possibility of breast cancer. A biopsy confirmed a finding of irregular, pre-cancerous cells. Even with the limited medical history she’d been able to provide, she’d been given a 28% estimation that she’d face breast cancer down the road.
She was afraid—and her first meeting with a breast surgeon is Seattle to discuss options added to her fear. She left feeling unheard or misunderstood.
So, when she met Everett Clinic surgical oncologist Dr. Steve Martinez, at first, she was on guard. “As a 44 year mother of a six-year old son, I knew exactly what I wanted. Mitigate my risk; that was my goal,” she said.
“Dr. Martinez surprised me in such a positive way. He was warm, sincere, calm and a very, very good listener. At one point I started to cry because I was so relieved to feel he understood me and honored my need to mitigate as much risk as I could. He understood I was willing to lose my breasts if that meant I didn’t have to fight cancer down the road. He even helped me feel confident and informed with my decision to reconstruct my breasts afterward.”
At the end of her appointment, she looked down at what she said was her “ridiculously huge” list of questions. Dr. Martinez had answered them all—often before she’d even asked. As she left the office, she called home to share the good news, “I found the surgeon!”
Later, another trusted Everett Clinic provider recommended Dr. Martinez as well and reinforced her decision. “That was the ultimate confirmation.” In a frightening and emotional time, finding the right surgeon was a gift. It changed her outlook from fearful to confident.
“I knew whatever happened we would be able to figure it out and it would all be OK. Dr. Martinez was able to very quickly gain my trust and confidence because he listened and was extremely professional. He genuinely wants the highest quality of life for his patients. His ability to simultaneously calm and educate was an answered prayer for me,” she said.
Dr. Martinez is a fellowship-trained surgical oncologist with The Everett Clinic's Surgery department.