Diana Gambino of Macomb,
Michigan, loves teaching.
She teaches 2nd grade in
the Utica School District.
In Sept. 2015, Diana
noticed a change in her
breast while she was taking a shower.
She was just in her early 30’s so she had
not yet started having mammograms
and there was no history of breast cancer
in her family.
At first, she felt fine; then she started
feeling some pain. Gambino thought
something wasn’t quite right and made
an appointment with her internist. She
had a mammogram and then was told
she needed to schedule a biopsy.
Breast Cancer Survivor
Patient of Karmanos Cancer Institute
Chosen to throw out the Ceremonial First Pitch
2017 Pink Out the Park
BY PATRICIA A. ELLIS
Gambino worked a half-day on Oct. 14,
2015 before seeing her doctor to get her
biopsy results. She was trying to prepare
herself. In her heart, she thought she
might hear a cancer diagnosis.
Gambino was told she had stage 3
breast cancer – estrogen receptor, HER
2 negative, which is a more aggressive
cancer. She was in shock! She never
expected to hear she had stage 3 breast
She took some time to process this
devastating news; then she started
aggressively researching medical
oncologists to see who she felt
confident with. She met with four
medical oncologists, the last being
Lawrence Flaherty, M.D., a breast
cancer oncologist at the Barbara Ann
Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit.
Gambino knew immediately he was the
physician she wanted to care for her.
She also worked closely with Pamela
Johnson, M.D., a breast cancer surgeon
at Karmanos. Gambino attributes her
treatment success to the care and
expertise of these two physicians, along
with her medical team.
Gambino decided to have both of her
breasts removed; two separate surgeries
over a period of several months. She
also had chemotherapy and radiation.
She had a wonderful support team
to help her every step of the way. In
addition to her medical team, many
friends and family took turns coming
with her to clinic and treatment visits,
and were there during her surgeries.
Fellow teachers, her students and their
parents sent special notes, cards and
drawings to lift her spirits and let her
know that she wasn’t alone. “Everyone’s
outpouring of support was incredibly
gratifying,” said Gambino.
“I’m a teacher and a planner. That’s what
teachers do,” added Gambino. “Cancer
is never something I planned for.”
Gambino choose not to be silent about
her cancer. “If sharing my story can help
educate others and raise awareness
about this disease, then it’s worth it.”
Gambino returned to her job last
spring after recovering from her second
mastectomy. She is doing well.
She remains upbeat, hopeful and
appreciative and looks forward to life
HER KEY MESSAGES:
• Pay attention to your body, if you see
something that isn’t right, see your
• If you find out you have cancer,
don’t settle for a physician you’re not
sure about. Ask questions, do your
research and find the physician who is
right for you.