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Surviving Breast Cancer Swimmingly

By |2023-01-05T16:39:48-05:00January 9th, 2023|Categories: Cancer|Tags: , |

Nancy Pollio of Freehold first turned to swimming for solace in the wake of her husband’s passing in 2014. She joined the CentraState Fitness & Wellness Center and goes three to four times a week to swim, sweat, and lift. The center’s team and the friends she’s gained there have also seen her through knee and shoulder surgeries, and most recently, breast cancer.

“Exercise, especially swimming, keeps my body and mind healthy,” says Nancy.

In March, her annual mammogram at the Star and Barry Tobias Women’s Health Center at CentraState revealed a small tumor in her left breast. A subsequent MRI and biopsy confirmed it as cancer. The diagnosis was a surprise, “like a smack in the face,” she says.

But thanks to early detection, the cancer was very treatable. She had a lumpectomy at CentraState, performed by breast surgeon John Pellegrino, MD, medical director of CentraState’s Comprehensive Breast Cancer Program. Following her recovery, she began 21 consecutive days of radiation treatments to ensure that all the cancer cells were eradicated from the area.

Pathology results showed that Nancy’s tumor was estrogen-receptor positive, meaning that the breast cancer cells can grow in response to estrogen. She did not require further treatment, but she’s taking letrozole, a medication used to block the production of estrogen in her body, daily for the next five years to keep her cancer at bay.

“With this approach, the likelihood of Nancy’s cancer returning is small,” says Dr. Pellegrino.


Back to the Pool

Radiation treatments rendered Nancy unable to swim for most of the summer, but she recently returned to the pool, victorious once again in the face of hardship.

“I’m happiest in the water – to be able to swim again is an amazing feeling,” says Nancy, who at age 75 has more energy than she did at 40. “I just can’t sit still.”

Her goals are to stay committed to her workouts, spend time with her four children and grandchildren, relax, and travel as time allows.

“Breast cancer was very unexpected and overwhelming,” she says. “I am ready for my next chapter, feeling stronger and able to tackle whatever life has in store.”

For more information on the Statesir Cancer Center at CentraState, visit or call 855-411-CANCER (855-411-2262).

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