A new town and a new challenge


Wendy and her husband had just moved to Pittsburgh six weeks before what she calls the best day in their new town so far. Her two sons were away at college and her 15-year-old daughter was at school, so she hit the gym for a few hours thinking that because she didn’t have a job or new friends yet, she could concentrate on getting in shape. She went home, showered, and as she was blow-drying her hair in the mirror, she saw a lump in breast. Wendy panicked – she didn’t have a doctor, and didn’t know a soul in town. So she called 412-DOCTORS, burst into tears with woman on the phone, and got an appointment with OB/GYN Dr. Maria Udrea at Wexford Wellness Pavilion – located two miles from her new house – that afternoon.

Dr. Udrea ordered a mammogram and ultrasound right away, and a biopsy a couple days later. The doctor called Wendy the following Sunday morning, a holiday weekend, with the diagnosis: stage 1 breast cancer. Wendy had to hand the phone to her husband because she was so shocked and shaken – she was 45 years old, super healthy, nobody in her family had cancer, and she says she just didn’t fit the mold.

From there, everything moved quickly. The cancer was caught early enough that Wendy didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation. As a self-described type-A planner, Wendy felt like she couldn’t have been better informed, organized, or cared for throughout her treatment.  

“All of my appointments were set up for me, sometimes immediately following the one I was at. Even the pharmacy was in the same building, which was great because I didn’t have one yet. I love MyChart – I can log in, see everything, and send messages. I call the nurse navigator anytime I need to. They took care of everything. I’m sure I drove them nuts, but nobody pitied me – I never felt like I was just somebody’s job.”

Wendy has one surgery left and she’s still on medication, but she’s not as scared as she was in the beginning. She says she went from not knowing a soul in town to knowing nearly everyone at the Wexford Wellness Pavilion, where people treated her and her family like they had been there for years.

“I think there’s a reason why we moved here, and I think this is it. If I was going to be dealt this hand, I’m glad I was dealt it here. I am looking forward to the day I wake up and don’t think about it – when a parent gets cancer, an entire family gets cancer. I’m also looking forward to finding the purpose in this, and the way to give back. But for now, the best advice I got was go back to the gym, get on with my life, and they’ll call me when I need to do something. ”