When Elizabeth Amireh’s son was away at college when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2014, she hesitated in telling him.
“I didn’t want him to see everything I went through; I didn’t want him to worry,” she explained. “My mom did the same thing for me. She tried not to make her situation seem as bad as it was.”
Because of her mother’s battle with ovarian cancer, the disease was present in her life long before her diagnosis. Still, she developed an attitude of optimism when her mom survived for several years beyond her prognosis.
Although Amireh got annual mammograms, she admits to being lax in routine self-examination. “I would tell everyone to do self-examination now.”
Nevertheless, one day, she found a lump. Immediate diagnostic tests ordered by her doctor revealed her cancer.
“I was in shock. It was only two months after my mom passed. I had a very aggressive form of breast cancer. My oncologist recommended we start chemotherapy immediately.”
Her oncologist, Dr. Shruti Trehan, was the same physician who treated her mother.
“She’s amazing,” said Amireh. “I can’t say enough wonderful things about her.”
Chemotherapy treatments took their toll on her, mentally and physically. Treatment at Aultman Hospital continued after her double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery at Cleveland Clinic.
Through it all, she continued to work at Vita Boutique, the shop she owns in Hartville.
“It helped me. It gave me a reason to get out of the house,” she explained.
Experience at Aultman
Her faith guided her through the struggle. Family and friends helped her remain positive. But her sources of strength also included the staff at Aultman, she said.
“I felt fortunate to have such a good hospital so close to me. There was a familiarity that made me feel more comfortable,” she said.
“It’s really important to be able to trust your medical team. A lot of decisions have to be made, and having that confidence helped. Everybody at Aultman was wonderful. Compassionate. Very caring.”
In the time that has passed since her battle with cancer, Amireh continues to support the hospital through projects of Aultman’s Women’s Board, such as the Angel Auction and other events that support the Compassionate Care Center, an in-patient hospice facility on the campus of Aultman Woodlawn.
She’s “feeling fantastic” today, Amireh said, but she views life differently now.
“There’s a big transformation,” she said. “I don’t sweat the small stuff. I try to slow the pace of my life down. I’ve learned to live in the moment. I’ve become more grateful, more compassionate and less stressed.”