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Breast cancer patient must wait indefinitely for reconstructive surgery due to overcrowded hospitals

Donna Julich feels for the families of COVID-19 patients and all that they are going through with the virus. She hopes her story might help those get vaccinated.

WELLPINIT, Wash. — A Wellpinit woman who had a mastectomy last week is now waiting indefinitely for reconstructive surgery. It's just one of the many impacts of electives surgeries getting cancelled during the surge of covid-19 cases.

"I don't know what kind of wakeup call it takes, but a lot of people sure need surgeries about now," Donna Julich said.

Julich was diagnosed with breast cancer in June and had a mastectomy September 10. Donna was prepared to spend the next several weeks recovering.

"It's like a therapeutic thing for me to do art," Julich said. "I knew I'd not be doing much for about six weeks. And so I went and bought new acrylics and I've got an acrylic easel that I can put them on."

She was supposed to get reconstructive surgery Friday. Doctors would have also taken out additional tissue so she would be cancer free. But it's considered an elective surgery. And now she is waiting indefinitely.

"If we wait too long to get that piece out, then I have to do radiation," Julich said. "So the whole point of the mastectomy was to not have radiation or chemotherapy."

She said this kind of waiting is harder than the mastectomy.

"It is frustrating because in my mind cancer is bad and you want it to go away, right now," Julich said. "And it's always been that way. Hurry up and get that taken care of, and then we'll be done with it. So, to wait, it's a little nerve wracking."

Julich feels for the families of COVID-19 patients and all that they are going through with the virus. But she hopes her story might help those who are not vaccinated see the impacts this has on other's health. 

"It's a two-sided sword," Julich said. "I feel really bad for the people that have COVID-19 and are in there because it must be miserable. I imagine it's miserable to have a tube in you helping you breathe. I'm hoping that the families who have people in the hospitals go and get a COVID-19 shot because it's real. And nobody wants to be sick. Nobody wants to be in there because it's so bad."

Donna and her family are hopeful she will complete her breast cancer treatment soon. But in the meantime, she will be painting and waiting.