One day in August 1999, Maggie Powers, a 59-year-old from Swoope, noticed a tiny red spot on her breast and first thought it was a bug bite. As her workday as a social worker at the hospital continued, however, the spot spread across her breast. After initial treatment for mastitis and cellulitis, Maggie made an appointment for a consultation with a surgeon.
Joseph Ranzini, MD, FACS, a general surgeon on staff at Augusta Health, took one look at Maggie's breast and diagnosed her with inflammatory breast cancer—an often symptom-free cancer that affects only 1 to 2 percent of the population. Undetectable with standard diagnostic and screening tools, the condition is generally advanced when discovered and usually carries a life expectancy of 18 to 24 months. "When you have cancer, you have to figure out how you want to approach life," says Maggie. "I wanted to be in control of some parts of my life. Therefore, I read every book and pamphlet, did relaxation techniques, explored nutrition options, exercised, and did visual imagery. Knowledge is power. Every time I had a question the Augusta Health Cancer Center folks had an answer. They were—and still are—wonderful people in my life."