Inspiring Other Patients with Breast Cancer
When Tina (Pavlou) Chip was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer back in 1994, she immediately went to Rush for a second opinion. Tina, then 22, had survived Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a teenager and was at a higher risk for heart damage from prior radiation treatments. She knew she needed the best possible care to face this cancer diagnosis.
When Tina met Melody Cobleigh, MD, a medical oncologist at Rush, she assured Tina that despite her complicated medical history, she and the multidisciplinary breast cancer team at Rush would partner with her to find the best treatment plan.
“When I came to Rush, Dr. Cobleigh researched my case before I even walked in the door and conferred with colleagues nationwide to come up with a plan that would offer me the best chance of survival,” says Tina, now 48 and a mother of three. “When you are diagnosed with cancer, you enter a whole new world that you know nothing about, but you know you want to live. No matter if I was having a good day or a bad day, my care team at Rush was by my side through the whole journey with me. They became my extended family and have remained that way since.”
A new beginning
Tina's breast cancer diagnosis marked a new beginning for her. She became a breast cancer advocate and a strong supporter of Dr. Cobleigh and the medical oncology team at Rush.
Over the past 25 years, the two-time cancer survivor has voluntarily worked with Rush to raise awareness about early diagnosis and to provide support to other patients facing breast cancer.
“You don’t choose cancer, but you can come to Rush with the confidence that they are going to choose the best possible treatment for you,” says Tina. “I continue to support Rush because they are a leader in cancer care — both medically and in the emotional support they provided to me. I want patients who are diagnosed with cancer to know they should get a second opinion, and they should get themselves to an academic health system like Rush to make sure they will get the best and latest treatment options.”
Every year, Tina returns to Rush to participate in the annual Cancer Survivors’ Day to personally thank Dr. Cobleigh, inpatient nurse Lydia Bryant-Pettus, RN, and Madeline McIntosh, RN, and other nurses and specialists who cared for her. She also has served on several patient advisory panels. And, her family has joined her in the advocacy, as well. Her husband, Greg, recently raised over $5,000 for breast cancer for a local organization near their home, and her 10-year-old daughter, Sophia, is determined to become a medical oncologist.
Tina’s goal is to empower all women with enough knowledge and information about the various treatment options for breast cancer.
“I will do anything I can do to be a role model for others,” says Tina. “I feel my job is to show patients that I have lived through this and all the challenges that come with cancer including fertility issues, dating challenges and more. I’m here to say, ‘Live the best life you can with the best treatment possible.’ I want Rush patients to take inspiration from me and say, ‘I can do this too.'”