‘I attribute all my success in treatment to God and Dr. Potluri.’ — Barbara Williams

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Barbara Williams, right of Alvarado says she’s thankful to God and Dr. Vinaya Potluri for saving her life.

Most women are diagnosed with breast cancer after they feel a lump in their breast or they have a mammogram, but not Barbara Williams, 63, of Alvarado. No, her breast cancer diagnosis started an unusual way — with a visit to the dermatologist in August 2014.

“I had a spot on my neck for three or four months that looked like a mosquito bite, but it wouldn’t go away,” Williams said. “So when I went to my primary care physician for my check up and my nurse practitioner asked if anything else was going on and I told her I had a mosquito spot on my neck with a black dot in the center, she sent me to a dermatologist.

“The dermatologist discovered I had the same kind of spot in the center of my back so he did a biopsy on both. Then, he told me it came back with cancer cells — but not skin cancer, but breast cancer, so he said I needed to see an oncologist.”

Williams said she initially didn’t want to see an oncologist so she put it off before making an appointment with Dr. Vinaya Potluri of The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

“Of course, I was terrified, but when she walked in the office and she held my hand with both of hers and when she touched me, all my fears went away. It was magical. I lost all my fear
and anxiety and everything.

“I told her: I’m going to tell you straight up, I’m not going to have surgery, and she said let’s do a PET scan first and see what happens.”

Potluri said the PET scan revealed stage 4 breast cancer.

“She said it’s in my bones, lungs, pelvic area and part of my lower back, so she said let’s do some chemo, but I told her I don’t want to be sick or in bed or anyone to have to take care of me.”

Williams said she reluctantly agreed to the chemotherapy, and even though Potluri had given her two prescriptions for nausea, she never got sick.

“I did chemo from September to February and when I came off it, Dr. Potluri said you should consider having a mastectomy done, but maybe we could do only a lumpectomy; just think about it.”

As Williams came to trust Potluri, she agreed to have the mastectomy.

“I talked to the surgeon Dr. Potluri recommended and felt very comfortable and I said let’s do it. She asked what changed my mind and I said you and Dr. [Kari] Frano said you think it would
be best to have it and since I trust you so much, I’m going to do it.”

Williams had the surgery in September 2015 and is no longer on chemotherapy, only a pill.

“She told me last week how thankful she was, because she had felt that breast mass for over a year, but didn’t tell anyone,” Potluri said. “If her cancer hadn’t been discovered by the dermatologist, she would have died by now.

“Now she goes on vacation and does whatever she wants and has a good quality of life. The misconception is: ‘I’m going to die, so there’s not much anyone can do.’ But there is! Barbara is
a great example of that.”

“Dr. Potluri says I’m doing terrific and it’s all because of her,” Williams said. “She’s always got a smile. She tells you what to expect — and in a way you can understand. I attribute all my success in treatment to God and Dr. Potluri.

“You can’ get well without listening to your doctor and doing what your doctor asks you to do. I’ve done everything she has asked of me and look at me now!”

Dr. Vinaya Potluri is a medical oncologist with The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, located inside Texas Health Huguley Hospital, suite 201. For more information, call 817-551-5312.

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