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Coordinated Care Kicks Cancer

How a patient quickly received peace of mind despite a scary diagnosis.


breanna and dr. herrera

This story and quotes were created in partnership with the patient. With respect to her privacy, the patient's name has been changed to Diane.

“I couldn’t talk. Barely a whisper.”

After waking up one morning with severe hoarseness and unable to speak or swallow, Diane immediately called The Iowa Clinic and met with ENT specialist Breanna Orona, PA.

Breanna observed what looked like a “dead” left vocal cord with no direct cause.

“It was just kind of gone,” described Diane. “Not working at all. I was perfectly fine the day before — and then I just couldn’t talk.”

Breanna ordered a CT scan of the head, neck, and chest, and arranged for Diane to be seen the next day, despite a typical 10-12 day waiting period. She worked closely with medical imaging to explain the urgency of this matter and ensure she’d be seen in short order.

Following the expedited results of her testing, they discovered that Diane had metastatic papillary thyroid carcinoma, otherwise known as thyroid cancer. Cancer. A word no one wants to hear.

She met with radiologist Dr. Rodion Herrera, DO who explained her scans and worked closely with Breanna regarding the best path of care possible.

“My job is to be accessible for the patient, concerned by the findings of a CT scan,” Dr. Herrera said. “We were able to accommodate the patient’s concerns with rapid resting – and a rapid diagnosis.”

Because of the coordinated care and proactive communication between Breanna and Dr. Herrera, Diane was seen in The Iowa Clinic on a Friday, and by the following Wednesday, was referred to Mayo Clinic. Due to the swift efforts of medical imaging, pathology, and ENT staff, results and referrals were sent through quickly for expedited care, helping Diane through the difficult process. Diane had surgery within just days.

Following surgery, Diane was given an injection of her vocal cords to improve her speech.

“I really appreciated Dr. Herrera. He was very good about explaining everything we asked,” said Diane. “He assured me I wouldn’t feel anything, and he was right. I can’t talk great now, but I especially couldn’t talk great before.”

“Everyone played an important role in getting this efficient care that was very important for the patient’s care and outcomes,” said Breanna.

Learn more about The Iowa Clinic ENT and Radiology departments at iowaclinic.com.

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