As an x-ray technologist at Winona Health, I know that we provide compassionate, high quality care to our patients. But it wasn’t until my breast cancer discovery that I realized what that really meant to the patient (me). All I can say is throughout my journey at Winona Health, I truly felt cradled in care by everyone I encountered. That’s when I discovered the most wonderful, caring and compassionate staff at Winona Health.

On Father’s Day morning in 2016, I felt a lump in my right breast. I had my screening mammogram appointment that week, Friday. But, Monday when I went to work I talked to “my girls.” These ladies in the Winona Health Mammography department have taken care of me for years. My appointment was changed to diagnostic and moved up in the week.

During my mammogram appointment, I was able to talk with the radiologist, Dr. George Ripeckyj, and he confirmed that I needed to have a biopsy. He answered all my questions and was so meticulous – in fact, I’d call him a perfectionist. He made me feel very comfortable and confident, and I knew I was in good hands. I was able to schedule my biopsy right then and there. When ready, Dr. Ripeckyj gave me my cancer results and set up my surgical appointment for me.

Feeling scared and not knowing what was next for me, I met an amazing woman, Sandy Gruszynski, Winona Health’s Cancer Care Navigator. Sandy connected with me right away and walked me through the next steps including meeting with surgeon Dr. Matthew Broghammer. Treatment and decisions needed to be made and Dr. Broghammer was my shining star. He was very thorough in explaining all my options and factors I should consider. He was excellent!

I felt a whole team was working for me. All my questions, no matter how many times I asked, were always answered. I had all the information I needed to make the best decision for me. I decided to have a double mastectomy.

The day of surgery was an emotional one, but the entire surgical team was so professional, supportive and wonderful. I knew I was in good hands from pre-to post-surgical care. They also took special care of my family during this time. My sister, Michelle, was with us and just couldn’t believe how professional, warm and genuinely caring everyone was. She actually told me she wished she lived closer so she could come here for
her healthcare!

To my co-workers, family, friends and most loved and missed caregiver, my husband Mike, thank you with all my heart. I only hope I can pay it forward as well.

Today, I’m cancer free! I will be forever thankful to the Winona Health staff who caught my cancer early so I can live on to share my story. With great pride and joy, I can say I’m a survivor and love working with caring professionals at Winona Health.

“The team that helped me survive to tell my story.” – Kelly Jo: Seated in center: Kelly Jo Lynch surrounded by (l-r): Cancer Care Navigator, Sandy Gruszynski; General Surgeon, Matthew Broghammer, DO; Director of Imaging, Claudine Van Meeteren; Diagnostic Radiologist, George Ripeckyj, MD; Radiology Technologist, Kara Nelsestuen; Radiology Technologist and Imaging Supervisor, Brenda Markegard.

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