When Dana Ingoglia was diagnosed with breast cancer, she had three important reasons to seek a second opinion at Wake Forest Baptist Health’s Comprehensive Cancer Center—her daughters, all under age 5 at the time. Dana was still nursing her youngest daughter when she learned the news.
“As a mom, I would do anything to be here for my children,” says Dana, a Winston-Salem resident and a dietitian. “I was terrified that I wouldn’t make it and my girls wouldn’t remember me.”
After her initial diagnosis at an area hospital, Dana was offered a standard treatment option with three chemotherapy drugs. Her husband, John, an oncology-trained pharmacist, recalled reading new research indicating that some oncologists were now recommending an additional fourth chemotherapy drug. Wanting to know more, John contacted Wake Forest Baptist’s Comprehensive Cancer Center about its Second Opinion Program.
There, they met Dr. Alexandra Thomas, a leading breast oncology specialist who led Dana’s care team.
“What I like about the Second Opinion Program is that it allows very rapid access for patients who are coming here from another site,” Dr. Thomas says. “We are able to get the patient in to see a specialist in their cancer and develop a custom treatment plan within days of the initial visit. In cancer care, that’s critically important.”
Dr. Thomas, Dana and John discussed treatment options and determined that adding a fourth chemotherapy drug was the right approach to Dana’s aggressive breast cancer.
“They are a bright and beautiful family, and Dana is a very engaged patient,” Dr. Thomas says. “Ultimately, the cancer journey is the patient’s journey, and they have to feel they did everything reasonable they could do to beat their cancer.”
Dana says she felt she had an ally and advocate in Dr. Thomas.
“I felt that Dr. Thomas and her team wanted to be just as aggressive fighting this cancer as we did,” Dana says. “I left that appointment so hopeful. I felt like God had led me to the right provider who could give me the best treatment and the best chance of beating this.”
Dana also took part in a clinical trial, which involved adding a high-dose protein pump inhibitor that researchers believed would make chemotherapy more effective. According to Dr. Thomas, it carried relatively low-risk with a high potential for reward.
“I felt from that very first day that Dr. Thomas really cared about me,” Dana says. “Being a mom, she understood how important it was for me to be here for my girls. At every appointment, she is always so empathetic, and I truly believe she would do anything she could to help me.
“Getting that second opinion made the difference for me. The additional chemotherapy not only improved my outcome, but for me it was important that I do everything I could. I always tell my girls that our motto is, ‘You do your best, and let God do the rest.’ Having the best possible treatment course allowed me to do my best.”
As her treatments progressed, Dana and her care team could see that the tumor was shrinking. She completed chemotherapy in February 2019 and finished her surgical care that June. She now follows up with Dr. Thomas every six months, grateful that she reached out to learn more about her options for cancer care and the Second Opinion Program at Wake Forest Baptist.
“With a second opinion,” Dana says, “you have nothing to lose and possibly everything to gain.”