Sandy Schapansky, wife and mother of two grown daughters.

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. Approximately one in eight U.S. women (roughly 13 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
Sandy Schapansky, like thousands of other women diagnosed with breast cancer, never imagined she would be one of them.
A wife and mother of two grown daughters, Schapansky is like many women in their mid-50’s – enjoying an empty nest, watching grandchildren play sports and traveling as much as possible. She has a friendly, outgoing personality and beautiful smile. If you met Sandy on the street, you would never guess the hardships she has confronted over the past 12 months. (story continues below)

Nov. 5, 2021 | INTEGRIS HEALTH Nurse Hiring Event
Nurse Hiring Event
Meet hiring managers, interview and potentially receive an offer for available RN positions with INTEGRIS Health.
Friday, Nov. 5
7 to 11 a.m.
One Corporate Plaza
3520 NW 58th Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73112
Breakfast will be provided and prize drawings will be held throughout the event. INTEGRIS Health considers all qualified applicants regardless of protected status as defined by applicable law, including protected veteran or disability status. AA/EOE.
INTEGRIS considers all qualified applicants regardless of protected status as defined by applicable law,
including protected veteran or disability status. AA/EOE.

Schapansky’s story really begins 25 years ago, when she was just 30 years old. “I had just had a baby, and I discovered a lump in my right breast,” she said. “I had it checked out, and it turned out to be what is called macrocalcifications, which are small calcium deposits in the soft tissue of the breasts. These are usually noncancerous, although some patterns can be a sign of cancer.” Schapansky went on, “It looks kind of like glitter on a mammogram. It can be completely normal, but is something that can turn into cancer, so I began to get screened for breast cancer every one to two years.”
She continued her screenings throughout her 30’s and 40’s without incident. No new lumps. Nothing to be concerned about.
In late 2019, Schapansky, then age 55, was working for INTEGRIS Health ENT Jerome Dilling, M.D., as a medical assistant. “Things were very busy at work and busy in my personal life, and I felt like I didn’t have time to squeeze in my mammogram, so I put it off. I told myself I would do it after the beginning of the year, when things started to slow down.” Then COVID-19 hit, sending everything into a tailspin.
A few months later, in September 2020, Schapansky felt an unusual lump in her left breast, which she thought to be somewhat odd, because her right breast was the one with the microcalcifications and the one she always kept a close eye on. She immediately scheduled a mammogram.
An hour after the appointment, the clinic called and asked her to come back in for additional views and an ultrasound of her left breast. While she was there, they also scanned her underarm, which Schapansky knew was not a good sign. They told her at that time the abnormality that was found appeared to be cancerous.
The next step was to undergo a guided biopsy. The results came back confirming that she in fact did have cancer – invasive ductal carcinoma, which is the most common type of breast cancer, representing about 80 percent of breast cancer cases.
An MRI further confirmed that the cancer had spread to Schapansky’s lymph nodes, meaning that her cancer was designated as stage three.
Schapansky said she felt more comfortable with a female srgeon and chose INTEGRIS Health’s Stephanie Taylor, M.D., located in Yukon, to perform a lumpectomy and remove two lymph nodes to which the cancer had spread.
Following her surgery, Schapansky began chemotherapy treatment with Sumbal Nabi, M.D., and her team at the INTEGRIS Cancer Institute of Enid in December 2020. “They are the kindest, best support system you could ever imagine,” she said. “When you’re scared to death of the unknown, they put you at ease.”
Schapansky continued on about her experience, “Throughout the process I was sick, I cried, and I asked if I was going to lose my hair. Dr. Nabi told me I would. That first day of chemo was the hardest, most emotional day I have faced. I got really sick. The thing that got me through is knowing the hurt others have faced, like losing a child. Chemo was bad, but I know there are worse things that I could have faced.”
In April of this year Shapansky finished her treatments and went back to work. Dilling retired, so she ended up working with OB/GYNs Michael S. Jackson, M.D. and Andrea Partida, D.O., at INTEGRIS Women’s Health Enid. “I feel like this is exactly where I’m supposed to be,” Schapansky said of her new role. “I feel like God put me here for a reason, and I’m really enjoying it.”
Two weeks after her chemo treatments ended, Schapansky began taking radiation therapy each day after work at the INTEGRIS Bass Radiation Oncology Clinic, completing 33 treatments. “It was scary to get started, just like chemo, but the girls in the clinic really helped make me feel comfortable and at ease. Their care and compassion made such a big difference for me.”
It’s been a long year for Schapanksy, and this month she will go for her final CAT scan to see if she is now cancer-free, although her tumor markers indicate that she is.
After her experience, Schapansky’s message to other women is simple. “Know your breasts. If you are familiar with them, then you will be more likely to recognize changes if they do happen. Be proactive.”
She emphasizes that communication with your physician is important as well. “If you think something might be amiss, call your doctor. Phone calls are free,” she said with a smile.
And, of course, she wants to encourage women who are the appropriate age to get those mammograms and not put them off. Don’t skip them. “Had I not waited and put my mammogram off, I feel like I probably would have caught my cancer sooner, before it had moved into my lymph nodes,” she said.
Sandy has inspired her sister and both daughters to become more proactive in their own breast health with mammograms and self-exams, something that she feels good about.
“I never dreamed I’d have breast cancer. It came out of nowhere,” Schapansky said. “But today, I am 56 years old and looking forward to the future. I can’t live in fear.”