In December 2019, shortly after Vanessa, 38, gave birth to her fourth child, her annual mammogram showed two suspicious areas on her breasts. A biopsy confirmed that she had early-stage breast cancer.
Because she has a family history of breast cancer and tested positive for the BRCA2 mutation 10 years ago, Vanessa made the decision to have a bilateral mastectomy. Her breast cancer surgeon, Richard L. Shapiro, MD, performed the surgery at NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center in February 2020.
To discuss the next steps in her treatment, Vanessa was scheduled for a consultation with Ruth Oratz, MD, a medical oncologist and breast cancer specialist at Perlmutter Cancer Center. But then came the COVID-19 pandemic, and Vanessa had mounting concerns about making it to her appointment. That’s when she got a call from the doctor’s office.
“I was asked if I wanted to opt for a video doctor visit instead, and I immediately agreed,” Vanessa recalls. Even under normal circumstances, getting to the doctor’s office can be challenging for her. In addition to arranging childcare for her children, who range in age from 5 months to 8 years, it takes nearly an hour to drive into New York City from her home in New Jersey.
“In the past, I have canceled or rescheduled so many doctor’s appointments. With video visits, I never have to miss an appointment.”—Vanessa, Age 38
When it was time for the visit, Vanessa logged into her NYU Langone Health MyChart account and accessed the video visit using the NYU Langone Health app on her iPad. “The video visit worked out a lot better for me. I was still talking face-to-face with Dr. Oratz, and she even took a quick look at my surgery scars,” Vanessa says.
During the 20-minute video visit, Dr. Oratz reviewed the results of the tumor biopsy and genomic test, which can help determine the most appropriate treatment option based on how likely the cancer is to return or spread. Vanessa was relieved to learn that she did not require chemotherapy or radiation after surgery. Instead, she would take hormone therapy for the next five years, which Dr. Oratz prescribed during the visit.
Vanessa says video visits help ensure that she continues follow-up care after breast cancer treatment. “In the past, I have canceled or rescheduled so many doctor’s appointments because I was busy with my kids’ schedules. With video visits, I never have to miss an appointment in future,” she says.