Make a Crucial Catch
When it comes to cancer, offense is the best defense.
Sarah Jepsen's Crucial Catch
“She’s My Rock:” Sarah Jepsen’s Crucial Catch
Sarah Jepson’s 2019 breast cancer diagnosis wasn’t exactly a surprise. The 57-year-old from Auburn noticed a large lump in her left breast two years earlier and immediately suspected cancer. But without health insurance, she didn’t know how she’d afford breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
It was a plea from Sarah’s daughter Melissa Perreira-Robinson, a 35-year-old mother and Army wife fighting her own battle with breast cancer, that finally persuaded Sarah to seek medical help. “She told me she needed her mom for this,” Sarah said. “She asked me to get checked out, so we can support each other.”
A customer at the gas station where Sarah works as a clerk told to contact the King County Health Department for information on free or low-cost mammography. She learned about the Breast, Cervical and Colon Health Program (BCCHP), which provides free breast, cervical, and colon cancer screening to eligible people in Washington state. “That customer was like my guardian angel,” Sarah said.
Though the BCCHP, Sarah arranged a mammogram and ultrasound. Afterward, a biopsy revealed that Sarah’s tumor was an eight cm invasive lobular carcinoma, an aggressive form of breast cancer fueled by Sarah’s own hormones.
Sarah knew she wanted to receive cancer care at St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way, and soon connected with a care team there. Sarah’s breast cancer surgeon Michelle Haslinger, MD, helped map out a treatment plan for Sarah. “She told me that before my surgery, I’d need to be nicotine free for at least six months,” said Sarah. “I quit using nicotine that day.”
By early fall 2019, Sarah was nearing the halfway mark in her chemotherapy treatment. Despite feeling tired and nauseated, Sarah hasn’t missed any work for cancer treatment, and spends as much time as she can with Melissa, whose mastectomy took place at St. Joseph Medical Center in September.
“My daughter is leading the way,” said Sarah. “She’s my rock — an amazing wife and mother and just all-around incredible person. She’s showing me how to be strong, and I couldn’t go through this without her.”
She’ll spend her spare time cheering for the Seahawks, she said: “I’m a huge Seahawks fan, I have Seahawks stuff everywhere.”
Sarah’s own cheerleaders are the regular customers at the gas station, she said. “My customers are like family. They’re all rooting for me. They bring me cards and hats and well-wishes and sometimes just come in to check on me.”
She and her daughter share the same fighting spirit, she said. “I’m a fighter, and we’re going through this together.”