Patient Stories

Surviving a ‘Young Woman’s Cancer’

Teamwork helps Lisa overcome triple-negative breast cancer.

In early 2021, Lisa Krause was moving back to the area after spending a few years in Pittsburgh. She had just accepted a new job, and she was engaged to be married. Life, it seemed, couldn’t get much better.

Yet a gut feeling kept telling Krause, then 34, that something wasn’t right. She felt a small lump above her right breast, near her collarbone. “It was super small at first,” she says. But then she noticed that it had started to grow.

Because she had just moved to Elverson (Chester County) and didn’t have a current relationship with any physicians, she called a friend, Shannon Romano, DNP, with Grand View Health Primary Care Lederach. Romano recommended that Krause get a mammogram.

While that mammogram came back normal, an ultrasound revealed that the lump looked suspicious. Krause would need a biopsy to determine whether or not she had breast cancer. That biopsy happened on April 28.

“I was supposed to go wedding dress shopping with a friend,” Krause recalls. “I told her I can’t go. I think I have cancer. I just knew it in my gut even before the diagnosis.”

On May 3, Monique Gary, DO, Medical Director of the Grand View Health Cancer Program, called Krause with the biopsy results. “She said I had triple-negative breast cancer,” Krause says. It’s an aggressive form of breast cancer associated with a mutation in the BCRA1 or BCRA2 genes, and it often
attacks young women.

When they first met in person shortly after diagnosis, Dr. Gary gave Krause a hug. “I told her there has to be a reason,” Dr. Gary says. “I believed everything was going to change for her, and through her profession as a physician assistant (PA), she was equipped to be able to help a whole lot of women and
men as a result of this.”

Krause did her best to remain optimistic. Her first step was genetic counseling at Grand View Health. She learned she had a mutation in the BCRA1 gene, which raised her risk for a recurrence of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Krause chose to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to eliminate her risk for ovarian cancer. Before she began active cancer treatment, however, she had her embryos frozen, a step which could give her the chance to start a family someday.

Krause began chemotherapy that June. “I thought I was going to be this warrior and chemo wasn’t going to make me sick,” Krause says. “One day I got so frustrated because I didn’t have the strength in my hands to lock one of my French doors. I was devastated. I wondered what had happened to me. But I
realized I had to be patient with myself and give myself some grace.”

While she chose to have chemo at a hospital closer to her home in Elverson, her remaining cancer treatment took place at Grand View Health. “I was born there, I grew up there, I did a lot of my rotations there through PA school, and my mom, Terry Krause, has been practice manager at Buxmont Cardiology
Associates for 35 years,” Krause says. “I felt comfortable and safe there.”

Krause’s friends chipped in to help her, raising money through Go Fund Me pages, raffles and other events. Tosco’s Pizza in Pennsburg and a local motorcycle club also held fundraisers to support her journey.

Krause completed chemotherapy in October. Then, on November 9, 2021, she had surgery with a team of providers at Grand View Hospital in Sellersville.

Dr. Gary performed a nipple-sparing double mastectomy, a procedure she first brought to Grand View Health seven years ago. Evan Katzel, MD, a plastic surgeon with Penn Medicine who specializes in breast
reconstruction, performed a procedure using implants and fat grafting. Angela Boylan, MD, with Grand View Health OB/GYN, removed Krause’s ovaries and fallopian tubes. Grand View Health’s membership in the Penn Cancer Alliance brings this national level of expertise close to home for people in Bucks
and Montgomery counties.

“When Lisa woke up from surgery, she had hidden scars beneath her breasts, she had breast forms, she looked whole, and she felt whole,” Dr. Gary says.

Just a few weeks later, during a follow-up visit with Dr. Katzel, Dr. Gary stopped in with some great news. “She said I could enjoy the holidays, because I was cancer-free!” Krause says.

Less than a year later, Krause has regained her sense of normalcy. She’s now married. Her hair has grown back. And she’s still working as a PA—something she did even throughout her treatment. “Life has big plans for her,” Dr. Gary says. “And I’m really thrilled I could play some small role in that.”