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“Rays of Hope Shining Down…”

Posted on October 21, 2020

Cancer Survivor Presents Gift of Stained Glass Art to LeConte Comprehensive Breast Center

Kathy Dobson and daughter hold stained glassKathy Dobson keeps up with her preventive health appointments and always follows doctor’s orders. That’s why she was stunned when a malignant tumor revealed itself during a routine visit in March 2012.

Dobson was visiting the LeConte Comprehensive Breast Center for her annual mammogram. She remembers postponing her mammogram for about two weeks. Looking back, it’s a good thing she didn’t wait any longer. “I don’t know if it would have been seen even a few weeks earlier,” she says.

Robert Santee, MD, chief radiologist at LeConte Medical Center, noticed a nodule that had developed in Dobson’s right breast since the previous year’s mammogram. It was a small tumor the size of a pea, almost undetectable. He ordered a biopsy of the lump and an MRI to ensure no cancer cells were lurking in the other breast.

Dr. Santee was glad to see the malignant cells had not traveled to her lymph nodes.

 “I am a woman of faith, so when something happens, I look for God’s purpose in it. I saw God’s timing in it all. The timing was exactly what it needed to be.”

Jeffrey King, MD, surgeon at LeConte Medical Center, surgically removed the small tumor in a procedure called a lumpectomy. She then underwent approximately 33 radiation treatments over several months.

Age 53 at the time of diagnosis, Dobson reports no family history, symptoms or underlying risk factors related to breast cancer. Dr. Santee confirms that approximately 25 percent of breast cancer patients do not have a family history of the disease.

A Family Connection

Dobson has lived in Sevier County for more than 20 years and works as a banking officer. She has two grown children and six grandchildren, all of whom live in the area. All six grandchildren were born at LeConte, and all were delivered by Richard Love, MD, who also practices at LeConte Medical Center. Dobson’s family entrusts their care to the team at LeConte.

Through the Looking Glass

Dobson’s daughter, Kristal Powers, is a stained glass artist.

“When I went to the breast center, waiting for an appointment, I would gaze at the tall windows in the waiting area that overlooks the courtyard,” Dobson said. “I thought how awesome it would be if a beautiful stained glass piece could hang in the center that represented hope.”

Powers created a stained glass piece depicting a pink ribbon in front of the Smoky Mountains, making her mother’s vision a reality. Dobson and her daughter donated it to LeConte Comprehensive Breast Center, where it is now displayed.

“I think of her when I see it — and how many others there have been,” said Dr. Santee, referring to the approximately 80-90 breast cancer patients LeConte diagnoses and treats each year.

“It’s beautiful. I think it captures the rays of hope shining down through the ribbon,” he says. “And of course, there is the butterfly for Dolly Parton, which is an extra touch.”

Close to Home

“The LeConte staff was wonderful,” Dobson says. “They were loving, kind, understanding, and empathetic.” Dobson recalls trusting her care team to do everything they could to make her experience as painless as possible.

She emphasizes how the convenient location of her radiation treatments at Thompson Cancer Survival Center on LeConte Medical Center’s campus allowed her to get through the difficult and exhausting time. “I would not have had the energy to work full time through radiation if I had to drive to Knoxville,” she says.

Dobson urges women not to delay getting their mammograms. “It could have been a very different situation for me if I had put it off for a year, or even a few months,” she says.


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