Dentist mom with cancer hits coronavirus snag on surgery

Coronavirus

Rachelle Elliott, 37, has Stage 1 breast cancer

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Rachelle Elliott is a dentist with her own practice in Northeast Portland. She’s 37, married and has 2 little girls.

Recently she discovered a small lump in her breast and decided to have it checked out. She’s so glad she did — doctors caught her cancer early.

“I was having a little bit of discomfort in kind of my armpit area and I stumbled upon a small lump,” she said.

A friend shared her breast cancer story and “that encouraged me to get it checked.”

She’s been working with a Portland area oncologist and this week called the health care provider — which she wants to keep confidential — to schedule a lumpectomy. But she was told they’re not scheduling this type of surgery right now.

Earlier this week, Governor Kate Brown ordered Oregon hospitals to halt all non-emergency procedures to preserve protective equipment for doctors treating coronavirus patients.

“At that time they told me they were not scheduling my type of breast cancer surgery and they did not know when they’d be scheduling,” she said. “We were upset. We understood the situation and what was going on. But in our mind we felt that cancer was still an important surgery that needed to be done.”

“Up until that point, everyone said, ‘You’ve caught this early, this is a really good diagnosis, you might avoid chemo,’ all these things that would allow me to be there for my family and my patients and have less treatment,” Elliott told KOIN 6 News. “Now we were kind of put in limbo where we didn’t know what was going to happen.”

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Family members shared her story on a radio show that caught the attention of a doctor in Vancouver. Now, her surgery is scheduled to happen next week at a hospital in Southwest Washington where, she said, they’re still doing her particular surgery.

Rachelle Elliott is a NE Portland dentist donating her gloves and masks to help in treating COVID-19 patients, March 20, 2020 (KOIN)

And Rachelle Elliott is also donating gloves and masks from her dental practice to doctors and nurses caring for patients with COVID-19, and she’s encouraging other dental practices to do the same.

“We want to get as much of that protective equipment to the hospitals so they can do their jobs and do surgeries like mine for patients.”

First responders: Please donate masks, gloves, other items

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