Sandra's Story

Three words everyone should want to hear

No one wants to hear the words, "you have cancer." These three words are life changing. And unfortunately, what started out to be a little lump under her left armpit, turned into the life changing diagnosis of cancer for Sandra Wiggins. When Sandra went to have that "small lump" examined, she left with a diagnosis of stage one triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of the disease. Fortunately for Sandra, those three words she didn't want to hear were quickly met with three words she did want to hear: Maria Parham Health. From that first diagnosis, Sandra says she knew she wanted to have her care at Maria Parham Health, her hometown hospital.

Sandra spent the majority of her childhood as a resident of Vance County. She graduated from Vance Senior High and moved only briefly to attend college. After college, she returned to Vance where she pursued her passion for teaching.  Sandra started her career as a teacher at Southern Vance High School where she taught high school history for 26 years. A devoted resident of Vance County, community is very important to Sandra. In fact, she lives by the motto, "you get out of your community what you put in." When she received her diagnosis, her community became more important than ever and the complete continuity of care offered right here in Vance made it easy for her to continue living her life with the least amount of interruption as possible. 

Sandra received all of her care at Maria Parham Health, from the diagnostic ultrasound to the last radiation treatment, every aspect of her care regiment was just minutes from her home. "I didn't want to miss a single moment of my son's senior year in high school because of my cancer diagnosis. I knew there was a possibility that I could get very sick after my treatments, and I wanted to be close to my family and as close to home as possible." 

Everyone has a unique journey through their cancer care, including Sandra. However, Sandra feels her journey was made easier because she chose the Maria Parham Cancer Center for her care. "Everyone was so good to me. The nurses were always there to listen if I had questions and made me feel completely involved in my care by listening to my input through the whole process. Dr. Altomare was exceptional. When I felt emotional, she would hug me and talk me through it. Everyone was amazing."

A diagnosis of cancer is never easy. And Sandra, along with so many others in our community, has experienced first-hand how cancer changes everything. However, through her cancer journey, Sandra says she also learned just how exceptional her local hospital, Maria Parham Health, really is. From her diagnosis, through her surgery and to the very last radiation treatment, Maria Parham Health was her healthcare provider of choice. "I am a huge cheerleader for Maria Parham. For a horrible thing to go through, I had a very good experience."