San Diego Health - Spring 2024


A breast cancer diagnosis inspired Kelly O'Connor to rethink her priorities. The once busy executive turned her passion toward giving back and appreciating the simpler things, like spending time at home with her family and dogs.

Finding Purpose BEYOND BREAST CANCER A grateful patient finds her calling helping others facing a cancer diagnosis

Despite having a mammogram four months prior, O’Connor discovered a lump during a routine self-exam. She went to see her primary care physician, who told her it didn’t feel like breast cancer, but sent her for an ultrasound to be on the safe side. “Ultimately, it turned out to be stage 2 breast cancer,” she recalls. “ Th at’s what led me to Scripps.” A friend who had been through her own cancer journey spoke highly of the team at Scripps Cancer Center. From the fi rst moment O’Connor walked into the multidisciplinary clinic, she knew she had chosen the right place and had the right team in her corner. “ Th ey were brilliant the way they did it. I met my surgical oncologist, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist on the same day,” she says. “When I got my diagnosis, I was absolutely shocked. Th is was nothing I expected. But when I met with the Scripps team, they did everything to make me comfortable. Th ey gave me so much information and support that it helped me decide what I was going to do.” SHIFTING PERSPECTIVES and PRIORITIES Because every patient is unique, so is every patient’s path to wellness. Th at’s where Scripps’ stellar multidisciplinary team shines. Meeting with her team of physicians at the start meant O’Connor was able to fully understand her diagnosis and learn about her treatment options. Th is “dream team,” as O’Connor calls them—Louis Rivera, MD, a Scripps Clinic surgical oncologist; Carrie Costantini, MD, a Scripps Clinic medical oncologist; and Anuradha Koka, MD, a Scripps Clinic radiation oncologist—collaborated on a plan based on her individual needs and speci fi c type of breast cancer.


F YOU HAD ASKED KELLY O’CONNOR in 2022 about the big C in her life, you would have been referring to the C-suite. Then 45, O’Connor had a successful corporate career working with C-suite executives at a tech company. She was healthy, active, thriving both professionally and personally, in a loving relationship with her partner,

Jessica, and her two stepchildren. Then she received the diagnosis that no woman wants to hear. The other big C had entered her life, cancer. It came as a complete shock. “I’m a healthy girl,” she says. “I always go to my medical appointments. I get my mammograms and my annual physicals. I regularly have dermatology screenings, and I go to the gynecologist. I work out and eat well. I have always been very thoughtful about my health.”


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