Jan Martin Winn Patient Story

by Nicole Young | May 05, 2017

Jan and Peter Winn

Jan Martin Winn works an entire year to prepare for the jewelry party she hosts annually. “It’s my entrepreneurial, creative outlet and it’s fun to make beautiful things,” she says. But on the morning of the 2015 event, she received a phone call about concerning mammogram results. Before long, she sat listening to Dr. Fred Kass say the word cancer, and then everything else was a blur. “You’re reeling at that point. You can’t think of the questions to ask. I probably only comprehended 25% of what was said,” she recalls.

The notes from that meeting taken by breast care navigator Sam Howland, MS, helped Jan process and review her diagnosis. The 67 year-old would need to turn her focus from her longtime job managing The Upham Hotel to her battle with HER2 positive breast cancer. Jan decided to work during her treatment, which was challenging but a good distraction. “I didn’t want the hotel operations to fall apart,” she worried. Jan would regularly stop at Sam’s desk to talk about managing her recommended chemotherapy plan: using the medicines Perjeta® and Herceptin to shrink her tumor. “In the beginning when everything is foreign and scary and overwhelming, it’s comforting to know that you have that person in your court,” explains Jan. “You do have those dark moments and having a navigator is really critical to getting you through.”

Sam’s wisdom proved even more valuable when Jan weighed whether to undergo just a lumpectomy, or opt for a mastectomy and breast reconstruction. Initially, the latter idea seemed brilliant. “Who wouldn’t want a flat stomach and a perfect chest?” laughs Jan. But when Sam consulted with radiation oncologist Dr. Lindsay Blount, she discovered that Jan could not receive necessary radiation after a reconstruction. “She saved the day on that,” says Jan. “I really feel like it would have been a very different outcome without Sam’s help.” With chemotherapy and radiation behind her, Jan is back at her hotel post, planning for her 2017 jewelry party. Her body may still be healing, but her outlook on life is changed. “At first I didn’t like the word journey but there is no better word to describe what all of this is,” Jan explains. “Thank God you have these wonderful people who take care of you and help you with your fears. I just feel so grateful.”